Creative Non-Fiction Short Stories. :) Travel, Oldsters, Love, and Compassion.
A sheepish lady tourist examines a plaque in Mostar’s Spanish square. It seems a good place to pause, fan herself, gaze around without being noticed. Half a block beyond the inscribed names and rock of memorial, a still-standing structure looks more like an ongoing Jenga game than an office building. There are no windows, what remains standing is shredded. There are no helpful tour guides to ask if this was part of the war “ruins,” noted in town with large signs warning people not to trespass, usually paired with souvenir stands selling plastic Kalashnikov key chains. She turns away without snapping a photo and waits at a crosswalk.
On the other side of the street, a shirtless local man, tanned to the point of redness, rubs his shaved head while waiting to cross. His shirt is draped over one shoulder as he faces the oncoming meekness.
The woman jaywalks to the median. She stands in a beautiful city still full of bullet holes and tries to act as if she knew her way, tries not to let her eyes linger on what had not been repaired.
The shirtless man is inspired to jaywalk as well. As he approaches her, he swings the shirt from his shoulder like a matador. The shirt flies toward the woman who ducks to avoid being smacked by the stranger’s sleeves. They stand shoulder to shoulder where he pauses, facing opposite sides of the street, smirking. She tries the local hello, “Dobar dan,” and receives no reply–but no reply may have been a good sign, as though she is someone he can say hello to on another day. Suddenly rule-abiding, they wait on the signal permitting them to leave the median and part ways beaming.
Safely on the other side, she turns to watch him go and takes the opportunity to snap a photo of his pleasant departure. Only vaguely looking back, he waves his shirt over his head several times, chuckling at the souvenir of this day that they had so easily exchanged.
-Mostar, Bosnia, Herzegovina.