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No Such Thing as an Unimportant Day · Original Minific ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 400–750
Show rules for this event
A Day Off?
The cool lake breeze blew playfully through my hair. I tugged the ponytailer loose and left my hair free to wave into my face if it wanted to. Waves lapped happily against the shore and made the world seem... right. As the sun rose over the waters and its first rays warmed my skin, I strolled along the roadside. Despite the traffic that zoomed by and the jogging suits and bicycles, I felt anonymous, unburdened. Like tea kettle taken off the flame with whistle fading, pouring its waters to make a fragrant camomile tea—purpose fulfilled. Pressure released.

I felt very good. Very good indeed.

I don't consider myself that special.

My parents brought me from the old country on a Japanese freighter. I grew up working in an ethnic grocery that also sold imported rice cookers, silk clothing, lacquered boxes, and bright colorful dishes—a business that allowed my parents to send their daughter to university where she dutifully learned how to make life better her family and their five employees.

The only secret I know is that if you help people get what they want, most make sure I get what you want. It started when Taki the son of our rice cooker supplier was looking for essential oils and I hooked him up with a Kelly who who distilled some for his for soap and candles. Soon it was, oh, you know that person, do you? She is connected with a firm that does what? That village in the old country makes what?

Deliveries that father had to pick up at the warehouse soon came by truck. Other trucks soon arrived with deliveries to be picked up by others to be freighted via container across an ocean or continent.

Soon, you had to speak to Rinn. Rinn knew whom to speak with, who in this city or that need what, people who traded me gossip for project projections, accountings of harvests for news of factory overproductions.

All I've ever done is be friendly, found what people wanted, and shared.

That doesn't make special, just human. I help people help people. Many do the same in return

Keeping track of it all can be exhausting, though. Sometimes....

Sometimes there's so space for me.

Today was for me.

Off the grid. Non-consequential.

Thirty-nine hours ago, there'd been an avalanche. The village wasn't well known, the country neither poor nor wealthy. I was asked. You know people: can you find us medical supplies, get food up there? I found the bags of dried staples and water bottles. My friends found the medical teams and air transports. Friends of friends found the customs and transportation officials to make it happen.

All it took was calling and begging and chatting up so that volunteers offloading planes stocked helicopters as I walked by the lake, admiring the sun.

So, now I could have time to myself, right? Nothing to feel guilty about. A day to be nobody, sneakers hitting cement, going nowhere fast. A day that didn't matter.

A woman can't be on all the time, can she?

That didn't mean that... when the young man in blue sweats with a big wheeled pram with his son in sunglasses jogged by... that I didn't smile.

Or when the blond guy on red bike waved...

Or when the old lady with a black lacquer cane looked up and nodded as we approached, passing cars grabbing at her pink velour clothes and gray hair...

I beamed back.

With bikes zipping by on our right and cars on her left, the old woman's cane stuck in a crack and she tripped.

In a heartbeat, she twisted sideways toward the roadway.

I jumped forward, grabbing her wrist before she did more than gasp or begin to windmill.

It took no more than a tug—though I had to shoot out my other hand to catch her cane.

"Are you all right?"

"Oh, my! I'm sorry."

I chuckled, heart racing as she pushed locks of hair back behind her ear and accepted her cane. Bloody images flashed through my mind. Had I not be here... or reacted!

"Do you need me to call you a car?"

She smiled, but stepped away from the road as bike riders pedaled around us. "Oh, no. Thanks. I'll just watch better where I'm walking!"

I waved. She waved.

I watched her take a few dozen steps, then continued on my way, shaking my head.

I guess I had my place in the world.
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#1 · 3
I really like the easygoing flow of this piece. Even though there's not much in terms of plot here by design, this still does a great job of building up the pace of its mood/tone.

What I think is the biggest issue that I have with this story is that the two halves don't seem to intersect as much as they should. On the one hand, you have a "hardworking immigrant" tale, but on the other is "right place, right moment" storyline that doesn't seem to have much to do with the international aid bit that caps off the first half. I get why the second half exists, because it adds some much-needed conflict and also helps tie things to the prompt. But I really think it could have been tied into the other themes more closely.

On a smaller note, "ponytailer" kind of threw me off, on my first readthrough. I'm no stranger to the first sentence/paragraph typo myself, so I definitely feel your pain. :P

Overall, the piece has a nice low-key vibe to it, but it doesn't quite build up a coherent narrative, conflict, or theme for me. You've got some moving pieces, and they're not playing as nicely with each other as they could be.
#2 · 1
Atmospheric, but felt wordy at times. For example, 'Blew playfully through my hair' versus 'Played with my hair'

The protagonist has an interesting personality, though how she's seemingly fallen into a life and a career didn't see partially effortful. Not that that is necessarily unrealistic or a negative, but it doesn't build up towards the core 'day off' theme as the burden of 'organization' is more hinted at than explored.

Nevertheless, I liked the message of the story, and it felt on-point. The title also did a good job working with the theme.
#3 ·
As Ratlab said, not much happens here and it’s more a piece of introspective talk than anything else. It left me a bit unconcerned, because I didn't really connect with the central character. The text seems to suggest she rose from an insignificant position to one with clout (as implied by the fact that she arranges for powerful help to be sent after a catastrophe, something that requires knowing powerful folk – an assumption strengthened by the fact that people wave at her as if she was quite known), but nothing is really said about how she rose to that position. I feel there’s a big gap in the story here.

Otherwise, yeah, helping people can make you feel good, sure. But somehow, if that’s the only takeaway of the story, I find it a bit too… naive, maybe? Or boyscout-like. Or sirupy. Inevitably, there will be people you don’t want to help, so you can’t really be defined only by your altruism. Just a personal feeling, though; you’re 110% allowed to disagree with me.