Morning Fruits from the beginning of #RiverNovel

"Lemon tree very pretty
"And the lemon flower is sweet..." 
plays on the radio.

My alarm buzzes. I smash its snooze button. My body fights to go back to sleep while I wrestle my sluggishness into getting up to confront another day, and lose.

"Beneath the lemon tree one day my love and I did lie,
"A girl so sweet that when she smiled --"

It's buzzing again. Del strides out of our bathroom, and I melt from the smell of the coffee that Stacey started, so I force my body to levitate, and slip in to use the toilet and then the shower. Jet-spraying water moves my blood to wake me up. I scrub off the sleep, and breathe in a new day. As I towel dry, my shivering tempts me back to the warm water or bed, but I push forward to my room to put on my uniform and face, while Stacey takes her turn with the plumbing.

I pull out our bread, mayo, lettuce, pickles, and cheese, and put together our lunches. I pack them in baggies, add oranges in a paper sack, and we're ready to stumble into the rush hour.

We plod down the stairs. As we step over Alice, sprawled in the foyer, I slip a Tiger's Milk bar into her pocket: a calling card to let her know that I was here.

We stop at Lily's to pick up our morning danish (eggy this week for Easter), then proceed to our bus stop. We blink the sleepiness out of our eyes as we wait. Jimmy comes out of his shoe repair shop, and sweeps away traces of the night. He progresses to the edge of the concrete slab that we are standing on, and comes no closer, as always. A breeze rolls along the avenue, bringing a candy wrapper to dance around my feet. I turn the other way, looking up the avenue, ignoring the wrapper as it settles on his freshly-cleaned pavement.

Glimpses of the bus come into view through the rush hour traffic. Its height accentuates its rocking side-to-side with a dramatic emphasis. The rest of the traffic just bobbles across the cracks and manhole covers. We finish our coffees and danishes. Since I'm closest to the trash can, I toss it all in.

Someone blows cigar smoke out a taxi window just as I get back to Del and Stacey. Ugh. I back up the best I can, but can't get out of his cloud, with the people lined up behind me. Someone mutters about someone stepping on their foot. There goes my freshly laundered smell. My eyes burn from his smoke. Great. I'll have to put in some eye drops when I get there, too.

As the bus pulls up, Del, Stacey and I claim our places at the front of the line by holding our handbags wide at our sides. We are just about to take the closest seat that fits us, but it looks like it has fresh chewing gum on it, so we continue back to hold the farthest available grab handles. We keep some distance from each other, to give us breathing space, as people behind us pack in.

Bus and street noise drowns out mumbling conversation between an adult and child behind us. A man down the row a few seats is asleep, leaning back against his open window, legs sprawled into the aisle, as usual.

Sun beams reach in along West 40th Street, and bounce a ray into my eye. A pool of red blood glistens beside the glint. I refuse to notice it, afraid of the conflict that it might imply. Concealed murder? Suicide attempt? Ghastly accident? As my stomach threatens to toss up my breakfast, one of my eyes wanders to let a sliver of the puddle turn into the red skin of an apple. A gasp escapes from me, and catches Del's attention. I gesture my eyes toward the knife and whisper, "I thought it was blood." She smiles, shakes her head, and looks back out the window. The pocket knife blade is pale juicy yellow now, resting on the man's thigh, as he eats the crisp flesh that it sliced for him. Its redness remains in my eye like a stray eyelash that won't blink out. The man wipes the blade with his handkerchief, and stuffs both in his shirt chest pocket. The balding top of his head has several fine strands, stubbornly refusing to shed off. I'm tempted to offer to peel the top of his head. A little bit of a giggle escapes my lips. Stacey's eyes are closed, and Del's attention is still out the window. I'm alone with my amusement. I strain for a whiff of scent from the fresh fruit, but it is suffocated by laundry and personal care fragrances that fill the morning air.

The bus stops to let more people on. Pigeons strut on the sidewalk, pecking at breadcrumbs beside a bakery door. As one wanders around the corner, its head gleams with iridescent copper, burgundy, and emerald.

The woman is getting on who has blue hair that used to be salt-and-pepper. The guy is waiting who throws a good morning kiss to us. He always looks like he's just getting off work: grisly 5 o'clock shadow, hollow cheeks, his dark hairy hands grasping the backs of the seats, like the bus would toss him out a window, even though it is still stopped to let on passengers. I turn away from him, but I hate not knowing what he's looking at.


Del and I nudge Stacey, and we get off at the West entrance to the medical center. Up the elevator to the 9th floor. Down the hall, and through the door that reads, "Employees Only".

Everyone who "Likes" and makes suggestions motivates me to continue exploring this story. Some of the most effective comments ask for more detail about a moment, event or character.

This is a #SaturdayScenes from the beginning of my #RiverNovel .

#SaturdayScenes is a Google+ community giving authors constructive feedback every week on work in development. You can ask to join us. Click on the link below and then click the red Ask to Join button.

See links to all of the excerpts that I've posted by going to

Photo credits:
Ukraine dnepr at krementchug, by Lutz Fischer-Lamprecht Licensed by Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 3.0 Unported. 
Kissing Crane Leg Knife, by James Case Licensed by Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.
Modified by Grace Buchanan.
#RiverCuts for #RiverNovel by Grace Buchanan.
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