Readers' novels no 9: June Plums

Rear view
Image caption At first, Stevon thought Shayla was just another illusion.

The Magazine previously published a story about people who attempt to write a novel in a month. Readers shared 350 word extracts or their novels. Here is Katherine Friedman's June Plums.

Stevon saw her for the first time in over twelve years through his rear view mirror. She was walking in between the stopped traffic, selling bags of june plums. At first, he thought that she was just another illusion. For the first year after she had disappeared from his life, any beautiful dark-skinned girl that he saw out of the corner of his eye would look like her. Then, he would turn and get a closer look and it would be someone completely different. It had happened so many times that he had eventually abandoned the idea that she would come back to him. But this time, any doubts that it was her left his mind when she showed up next to his car window, her face only a foot away from his, holding up a bag of plums. In some ways she was still beautiful, but she was missing her look of confidence and determination. Now, she looked worn.

"Shayla!" he exclaimed, loudly enough for her to hear him through the glass. He rolled down the window and felt the sticky, languid heat seep into the car. "Shayla," he said again, unable to form a coherent sentence.

Shayla also stood frozen for several seconds, staring at him with a look on her face that Stevon could not read. "Good morning, Stevon," she said finally. She diverted her gaze to the tires of his Subaru Forester.

He tried to think of something to say next, but his mind was a jumble of thoughts, trying to reconcile the past with the present.

Shayla looked back up at him. "You're a doctor now."

It took Stevon a few puzzled seconds before he remembered that he was wearing his hospital badge. "Yes."

"Congratulations. I always knew you would be."

"Thanks." He never thought that Shayla would end up selling fruit on the street, but he decided not to say that out loud.

She held up a bag. "You want june plums?"