Prompt 3: Two friends meet after 20 years apart. One admits to having killed someone.*
As always, I encourage you to respond to the prompt in the comments, your own journal (but please link back so we can share in your genius!), or the privacy of your imagination.
To see Frankie again in her class, of all places, shook Martha to the core. He was just Frank now, with a longer face; he'd grown himself a hooked nose and broad shoulders. She missed his long hair and silently counted all the hidden tattoos under his collared shirt and black jeans.
Oakdale stretched out behind her like a forest path long grown over, though Martha still spent one or two Christmases in her lonely apartment at two am, feeling grit under her fingernails and hearing Daddy's bootfalls in the hall. The smell of alcohol made her nauseous. If, standing at the lectern, she were foolish enough to call up that state of mind, Frankie would feel like an oasis, a safe island in a sea of indifferent freshman faces. Even now, a hundred years later.
At the end of session, Frankie waited until the cloud of students waiting to talk to her dissipated, until it was just she and him, Frankie and Martha, transposed from the Qwikstop parking lot to the university lecture hall.
"'Ello, Professor Turner."
"Frank Gellert." She didn't know what else to say. "You got taller."
"You cut your hair." He looked her over. She pulled in her stomach.
"I guess I did. . . . Did you have a question about the lecture?"
"I wanted to thank you, Martha. You saved my life. If it wasn't for you, I would have gone to prison. The army was good for me, it straightened me out. Thank you."
Martha turned her gaze to her sheaf of folders and papers. She wasn't that girl anymore, she wasn't working on roller skates at the In-N-Out, she didn't live in a town where the worst men at home rose to the most powerful level of town government.
"It wasn't your fault Trina Addams was in the car that night of the big snowstorm, Frankie. You're lucky Councilmen Addams' heart gave out before it went to trial."
Martha wasn't a candy striper any longer, and hospitals locked up their digitalis. Sometimes when she caught a late night movie, the detective still mentions that the sweet drug is undetectable in soda pop.
Frankie ducked his head. "Yeah. Sure am. You take care now."
Frankie didn't show up to another lecture, though Martha saw him around campus. When it came time to defend his thesis, she sat on his defense committee approved him without question. There's just some things you do for the people who really, really know you.
Prompt credit: Summarized from The Writer's Book of Matches, by the staff of Fresh Boiled Peanuts, Writer's Digest Books, Cincinnati, OH, 2005. Photo credit.