“Great, just great,” Penny murmured to herself as she pushed her feet into her low heels black shoes.

Penny was a little taller than average and wore long black cotton-made pants and a long black-sleeved shirt under her red and grey sweater.

“I’m running late for work, and now the rain has decided to fall?”

“If you listen to the forecast, you would know it was going to fall,” her younger sister, Jenny, said from the living room.

“Why should I? They are wrong most of the time, and how did you hear what I said anyhow?”

“That’s because I’m not as old as you,” her sister replied with food in her mouth.

“I’m only three years older than you,” Penny exclaimed.

“Three years, five years, old is old. Don’t be a hater, Sis.”

Penny walked back to the living room entrance and peeped at her sister. Although they were not twins, they were a splitting image of each other. Long black hair, brown eyes, and high cheekbones and many family members say, “You guys are a combination of both your parents.”

“How do you do that?” Penny asked.

Her sister, eating yesterday’s vegetable pizza and watching Disney Plus on her computer, looked over at her.

“Do what?”

“Make me laugh when I am in a state?”

Her sister smiled and bit into her pizza before saying, “if you leave now, you’ll still have five minutes to spare.”

“Okay, okay, I’m out of here, and thanks,” she said, laughing and turning on her heels.

Jenny was right. Penny had five minutes to spare by the time she got to work. The rain, as unexpectedly as it began, stopped while she was on the public bus travelling to work.

She has been a dental assistant for It’s All About the Mouth Dental for the past five months, and so far, her employers are pleased with her work. Yesterday, the mother of a little boy who was in for his yearly check-up said to one of her bosses about her, “she’s a keeper.”

They had a full schedule of dental work for the day, and around twelve thirty, when she took a break for lunch, she was starving.

Penny quickly reheated her lunch of sliced pepperoni pizza and baked chicken in the cream microwave in the small yet spacious lunchroom.

Three of her coworkers occupied two of the five cream and circular tables in the lunchroom, and the wall-mounted t.v was tuned in to the local news. The volume was low, though.

Penny sat at an empty table, and only after she had eaten one slice of pizza and was drinking from her can of Sprite did she slowly exhale and allow her body to sink slightly into the cream, shell-shaped chair.

Her eyes travelled up to the t.v in time to see the words “Breaking News” across the screen.

Penny glanced away from the screen long enough to put down the Sprite can and pick up her pizza. On the screen, a fire was raging in a neighbourhood and in a familiar area that she recognized but could not place her hand on where it was.

She continued to look at the t.v as the reporter began interviewing a recognizable face. It was Mr. Brown, one of their neighbours.

Penny jumped out of the chair and hurried over to the t.v. She grabbed the remote hanging on the wall beside a bag of wipes and turned up the volume.

The raging fire was in her apartment complex, and while some people made it out of their apartments, others still were making their way out.

Penny scanned the people in the background for Jenny but, unfortunately, she could not find her.

Penny could vaguely hear one of her coworkers asking her something.

“I have to go home,” she said, “my complex is on fire.”

Although her coworkers volunteered to drive her home, she refused their offer and found herself on the twenty minutes bus ride to her house.

“Please, O God,” she silently prayed on the bus, “please don’t let this happen again. Please don’t take her away from me too.”

Penny was ten years old when a new driver crossed paths with her parents, who were in the middle of a crosswalk. They were on a date night.

Jenny, although she was old enough to remember them, the loss of them was so much for her that she almost completely blocked them out of her mind. The only memory of them that remained for her was their overwhelming love for their two daughters.

One of Penny’s and Jenny’s father’s aunt and uncle, who had no children of their own, took them in and raised them as theirs. Their aunt and uncle were several years older than their parents, and although they could never replace their parents, they were and continued to be wonderful parents to them.

When Penny decided to move out at twenty-three years old, two years ago, Jenny moved out with her. While their aunt and uncle were not too happy about Jenny leaving home so early, yes, they said early, they would not separate them.

Penny returned to the present, got off at the bus stop, and started to speed walk the additional ten minutes to her home, but her shoes were hampering her progress. So she took them off, took her black strap bag off her shoulder, and ran home with them in her hands.

Noise, fire trucks, police, residents, strangers, animals, news trucks and everything she saw on the t.v she was witnessing live. She scanned faces, looking for her sister. She saw a few neighbours and asked them for Jenny, but they did not see her.

“More people are coming out,” Mr. Brown shouted.

Penny strained her eyes, pleading with God to direct her eyes to her sister, and suddenly, she was there, walking with a baby in her arms. A woman ran over to her, hugged her and took the baby from her arms.

Jenny then turned her head, and as if she knew where Penny was, they locked eyes, and Jenny ran to her. The police barricade kept Penny from meeting her halfway, but they embraced each other for several minutes when they met.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you,” Penny silently prayed.

Then slowly, Jenny left her sister’s embrace and looked down at the black shoes in her sister’s hand, and then her eyes travelled to her bare feet.

“How are your knees?” Jenny asked.

“My knees?” Penny asked, “they are fine. Why?”

“Well, seeing that your shoes are off, you must have run some or all of the way here from the bus stop, right?”

“Yeah,” Penny said, “but I’ve never had any knee problems, even during my school days as an athlete.”

“Well, that’s good,” Jenny said, her eyes twinkling with mischief, “because I heard that old age can be brutal to the knees.”

Penny burst out laughing but quickly covered her mouth with her free hand as she looked around to see if anyone was looking or videotaping in their direction.

“Girl, come here and leave me alone,” she said, chuckling, as she reached out to grab Jenny in another embrace.

The End.

A. M. Linton is a wife and mother of two. She is also the author of Torn Between Love, Religion and Responsibility, A Little on Puberty for Boys and A little on Symptoms Associated with Menopause. A few of her short stories were also published in The Barbados Advocate Newspaper.

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