The Boulevard ~ Short Story

The forecast was for a warm, sunny day on the boulevard.  I had in mind some shopping I wanted to do, and decided today was a perfect day to be out.  Honestly, though, I didn’t feel myself when I woke up this morning.  Like one of those days where you just can’t put your finger on it, I tried to shake it off, but no luck.  But I decided to persevere, not let it prevent me from enjoying the day.  Besides, I had shopping to do. 

I found myself on the east side of the cobblestone boulevard by mid-morning.  Though many of the buildings had been renovated and upgraded, the little village still held the charm and character from its beginning over one hundred years ago.  There is a lot of history in the trees along this street, and as I walked I could almost hear them whisper their secrets to me.  At one point, as I stood in the sunlight window shopping (as I often do!) the whispers I heard sent a chill running through me.  I must not be myself today I thought again and quickly passed on to another store. 

There isn’t a great deal of variety in this little village, with regard to shopping, but it has been more than adequate in times past for me to find what I’m looking for.  I knew today would be no exception.  The trick to successful shopping is to enjoy the village itself, dedicate your morning to a casual stroll and eventually you will find what you need.  Since the day seemed to be perfect for it, and I had no other plans as it were, a casual stroll would suit me just fine.  However, I was having trouble removing the whispers from my head.

I stayed in the sun, often passing up opportunities to get in some choice window shopping in the nook of many storefronts to my right.  Once or twice I even found myself looking about me, wondering (foolishly!) if I was being followed.  Common sense got the better of me, and I continued on, attempting to push forward in a carefree manner. I must have looked absurd to those around me.  Admittedly, I was becoming concerned.

After some time I found the distraction of the whispers had prevented me from discovering the perfect store for what I needed.  Still shrouded in shadows, the east side of the street was rapidly becoming a gauntlet for me to navigate.  I came here to accomplish something and I wasn’t returning home without doing so!  I charged back to my starting point and began forcefully gazing into each store, my thoughts screaming to shop, shop, shop.  Indeed, no longer a casual stroll!  My heart rate had increased, my determination fixed.  I was unsettled, but continued forward. 

The whispers continued, to my dismay.  At one point in my journey I forced myself into the shadow, a doorway of a woman’s clothing store to my right.  The whispers amplified themselves, invading my every sense.  I rushed to the sunlight, to the security of sidewalk where the whisper was a vague nagging in the back of my mind.  I took a breath, and then held it.  I counted to ten, the throbbing of my heart hurting my chest and blurring my vision.  I released my breath and attempted to take successive deep breaths.  Was I hyperventilating? 

I was at the far end of the boulevard again, the point at which I turned around previously in what seems like an eternity ago.  I stared straight up hoping to catch a glimpse of the sun but it was obscured by the tree to my right, branching its limbs directly over me.  The trees!  I hurriedly looked about again, was I being followed?  Was this someone’s idea of a joke?  I have shopping to do!  In a huff I stormed back to my starting point to challenge the street again. 

It was at this starting point that I noticed the other side of the street.  To my left, I could see clear sidewalk, and open storefronts.  Each nook was basked in the glory of sunlight, each window celebrating the day with incredibly glare.  It looked warm, inviting.  I stared at my side of the street, cocking my head to one side like a curious dog.  Why was my side of the street so different?  Was it possible for me to salvage my day by venturing to the other side of the street?  I must try, I exclaimed to myself, and pushed the button for the cross walk to my left. 

The steps necessary to get to the other side of the street were few, but therapeutic.  With each forward landing of my feet I began to feel lighter, more at ease.  The air even seemed to become more comfortable.  My breathing was working its way into a settled cadence, working in concert with each step.  I was becoming relaxed, and already I could see a store that I wished to visit. 

The west side of the boulevard was almost identical to the east side, lined with neatly trimmed ficus trees and handmade benches.  There was no specific order to the shops, each side decidedly random in their offerings.  However, to my left as I stood was a store filled with all sorts of goodies that I needed; the local proprietor more than happy to relieve me of my money.  I was on my way to preserving what had been a trying morning.  I spent the next few hours satisfying my wishes, the whispers in my head becoming a distant mirage I faintly remembered.  I stopped for a bite to eat before too long, and decided to begin home.  My belly full and my shopping complete, my day had become a success. 

While standing on the corner, patiently waiting for a change in the light, I recognized what had ailed me this morning.  The boulevard, the tiny village.  I was in need of something this day, in need of something fresh and new.  My desire this morning when I woke was to discover something witty and exciting, and the expectation had placed a burden on my unsuspecting mind.  The west side of the boulevard had been my salvation, after a troubling start to my day.  It was as the light turned in my favor and I began the journey home that I realized that I had started my morning on writer’s block, and it prevented me from discovering what I sought.  I smiled as I stepped off the curb, confident in the lesson that sometimes it’s as simple as crossing the street to explore something new.

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