Frank Meets Francine
Foster Trecost

The storm snuck in like a random thought. Drops slammed the sidewalk and made a sound I’d heard before, but wasn’t sure where. I interviewed in an hour and didn’t have an umbrella, so I ducked through the next door I passed. It didn’t matter what they sold, I wasn’t there to buy.

I took one step in and turned around to look through the glass door. It rained harder and I checked my watch. Then the sound of rain took over and I got lost looking for it.

That’s when she spoke: “Can I help you?”

Her tone made it clear I had no business in her store. I spun around to beg her pardon, ask permission to stay a few minutes more, but she wasn’t there. My focus went to the things around her, the things that blended her into the background. Then two words snuck in my mind, but they weren’t random at all: “Fried eggs,” I said.

I’m not sure if she was more confused or agitated.

“The sound,” I said. “The rain sounds like eggs frying.” I had found the sound. And I had found something else, too. In that moment, everything made sense, the whole world seemed clear, and it sparkled before my eyes.

I’m not sure what she thought, but she softened, both her features and her tone. She spoke with her expression and it said everything would be okay. I looked at my watch, but the interview was no longer a concern. “Do you see something you like?”

I did. I saw lots of things I liked. She spent the next two hours helping me decide what I liked best. She totaled our selections and asked my name. I nearly came out with out Frank, but said Francis instead. Francis sounded better, softer, more appropriate, but she wasn’t convinced. “How about Francine?”

That rainy afternoon sprang upon me four years ago. I’ve been Francine ever since.

Foster Trecost began writing in Italy and he still writes, but now from Philadelphia. Sometimes he works paying jobs that involve corporate taxes. When he’s not doing that, he usually goes back to Europe.