Here's a very first draft of a short story based on the prompt of a woman dumping out her purse. Comments/suggestions welcome!
It had been one of those mornings. Sarah woke up late, thanks to a middle-of-the-night power outage that messed with her alarm. Then she and Ben got into a snippy fight over who was hogging the bathroom, and he stomped off to work without saying goodbye. Now, standing at the bus stop, she is frantically searching for her pass. Her coat pockets are empty. The pocket in the lining of her purse: empty. The bus pulls up with a loud creak and sends a spray of dirty snow Sarah's way.
"I just need a sec to find my pass," she says to the driver. She smiles at him, but he just stares at her.
"What, you think you're special or something? No pass, no ride."
Sarah thinks all sorts of nasty thoughts about the guy, whose shirt is busting at the buttons and whose hair doesn't look combed.
"Listen, buddy," she says. "I have a pass. I just need to find it. Give me a sec."
"Oh sure. Go right ahead. Look away. Me and all these passengers will just wait til you find it. Then we'll all be on our merry way."
Sarah knows she should just get off the bus, that she should wait for the next one, assuming that that driver wouldn't be such an ass. But now she's pissed. And, as Ben knows, she never backs down when she's pissed.
"Fine," she says, barely opening her mouth to throw the word at him.
She puts her purse--a big leather thing with way too much stuff in it--on the floor next to the driver, and sqauts down next to it. She takes out the bigger items and puts them on the wet, dirty floor. A book. Her planner. Her wallet and a pack of tissues. No pass. Then she takes out the many papers lining the bottom of the bag--receipts, business cards, stamps. Still no pass.
Her heart is beating loudly in her ear, but she can hear the sounds of the passengers getting restless. A few are asking, “What’s going on? Why are we just stopped here?” She looks up and gives a smile in their general direction.
The busdriver is staring at her. "It's in here somewhere," she says in a fake cheery voice. "Just give me one second!" And with that, she dumps her purse over. Out pours a roll of lifesavers, two lipsticks, a handful of change, some sample-sized lotions, her cell phone. No pass.
The driver is laughing now. A deep belly laugh that sounds to Sarah like a laugh the devil would have. "Still so sure it's in there lady? Like I said, no pass, no ride."
“Oh yeah?” she says. “I’ll just pay cash. What’s a ride cost? A dollar fifty? Here!” She is kneeling on the ground now, water soaking through her beige pants. She opens her wallet and takes out six quarters—-the quarters she had planned to use to buy Twizzlers out of the vending machine. Those bright red sugar swizzles are the one snack that can always get her out of her foul mood. Raising herself up into a high kneel, she blindly shoves the quarters in the bus’s slot.
“Now look what you’ve done! You’ve jammed the machine? What are you some kind of idiot?” Sarah tries to take a deep breath. She tries not to let her anger get the best of her. But who the hell was he, this mean, mean bus driver, to be calling her an idiot? Try as she might, she can't help herself.
She pulls herself up to standing, stepping on her book and a few other items from her purse. “Here, just take your stupid quarters and start driving.” She plucks up the quarters that are stuck in the machine’s coin reservoir, and, with a quick overhand flick of her wrist, throws them at the driver. They bounce off his meaty chest. One makes a "tink" noise as it hits the metal of his seatbelt.
“Alright lady. Just get your stuff, and sit down.”
“Thank you,” she says as if nothing out of the normal had happened. She squats to pile her stuff back into her purse. She gets most of it in before the driver pulls away from the curb, but a few things roll out of her grasp. “No big deal,” she says to herself, trying to get her blood pressure down.
She pulls out her shoe-print-covered book and opens to the bookmark. There, holding her place, is her bus pass.