A short for the NYC Midnight 2019 Micro Fiction Challenge: a 250 word story in 24 hours.
The genre was Romance (go figure), the prompt “Climbing a Tree,” and the required word recover.
Contains old wounds, an oak tree, and upholstery fabric.
Celia followed her new client down the paved path, clutching her rucksack of swatch books. She’d stitched the bag from scraps of previous upholstering jobs, handy examples of piping, braid, flat-felled seams. One outside pocket held scissors, the other held pepper spray.
“You’re not scared of heights, are you?” Walt called.
“No.” She wasn’t afraid of him either—his wheelchair increased personal space, and gave her a height advantage—though he was handsome, and the interest lurking in his glances made her nervous. She forced herself to make conversation. “I loved climbing trees when I was little.”
His house perched in an enormous oak, twelve feet above the ground. Cedar shingles and mismatched windows met bark at organic angles, as if the tiny cabin had sprouted there.
Walt pivoted at a knobby root, below a disabled parking sign nailed to the trunk. He reached into the branches, piked at the waist and swung his legs up over the next limb in a smooth athletic arc. His body twisted up a higher bough in another fluid movement, then he turned back. “Can I take your backpack?”
She stepped away from the open hand too near her face, swallowing her gasp. His forearms were muscular, intimidating with their masculinity, their power.
Walt’s expression flickered with concern, then understanding. “I can wait down below, if you’d prefer.”
Celia took a deep breath, recovering a piece of herself that had once enjoyed men with strong arms and gentle smiles, and handed him her bag.