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Writing Fiction - Chapter 33
Here's where Chapter 32 left you.
A lot of the nasty words I directed at my husband had been concerning our son. “He’ll think we don’t love him,” I’d argue, “‘Oh, great father you are, can’t even support your son when he needs your help!” Recalling these words, I felt an odd sense of familiarity. Hadn’t Jay’s wife said something like that? Darn, maybe I was as bad as Jay’s EX-wife.
I thought about stopping at a friend’s house to talk this whole confusing mess over, but I realized I didn’t have any friends left. I’d spent so much time pushing them all away, I think they’d finally given up on me. I thought about calling my daughter, but I’d been pretending that everything was just fine, thank you very much, for so long now I wouldn’t have the faintest idea where to start. Maybe I should go knock on Millie’s door.
I drove into my driveway feeling alone and lonely and miserable from my tender calf muscle, hangover, and damp butt. I was so busy immersing myself in a giant flare-up of ‘oh poor me’, that I almost hit the two people standing in front of the garage.
If I didn’t know it was biologically impossible, I would have thought that Millie and my daughter were related because the “O’s” their mouths made in surprise were totally identical.
AND NOW WE CONTINUE WITH CHAPTER 33
Darn! Darn, darn, darn! Obviously they’d seen me. There was no way to back out of the driveway now, and, to be completely honest with you, I think I was too exhausted to even try to put the car into reverse.
I tried to work up a happy, ‘everything is just great’ smile, but it was impossible. Opening the car door was another difficult task that eluded me.
Instead, I just sat in my car and leaned my head against the cool glass of the window.
Jessie came striding across the driveway. That girl has legs up to her armpits. I never understood what particular genetic pool that trait came from. It was obviously not the stubby-legged one that had contributed to mine.
Millie tottered behind Jessie on another pair of her ridiculous high-heeled, feather-trimmed slippers. Today’s pair was turquoise blue. I’m sure they’d been chosen to accent the skin-tight blue and black cheetah printed sweater. Princess was accessorized with blue nail polish and a blue bow with black polka dots on it.
Millie looked surprisingly energetic. Obviously she was able to hold her liquor a whole lot better than me.
In the last micro-second before their small tsunami of concerned humanity reached my car, I glanced down and wondered how bad I actually looked.
I think my body was still frozen from sitting on the damp grass in the cemetery, because I almost fell out of the car when Jessie yanked open the door. I had only to watch her smile morph into worry, to realize I looked bad. Very bad. Very, very bad.
“Mom, are you okay?” Darn that big-mouth Millie! She’d obviously blabbed. She must have told Jessie everything about my little journey into ‘beer can emptying and stacking.’ That woman! I have never, ever liked THAT woman!
“It’s not a big deal, Jessie, it’s not like I’m not a minor or anything…” I started to explain.
Jessie looked puzzled. Behind her back Millie shook her head silently, “No, no, NO!” and pantomimed for me to keep quiet by placing her finger in front of her toxic orange lips.
I was confused.
Poor Jessie looked even more confused than she had a few seconds ago.
And then I got it. Millie, God bless her soul, hadn’t blabbed at all!
“What do you mean, minor? What are you talking about?” my daughter asked. Her perfectly plucked eyebrows arched up in question. Her sweet little nose wrinkled up in concern.
I started to get out of the car. Think, Pearl! Think!! Experience has taught me the best defense is an onslaught of diversionary questions, so I opted for the tried and true: “Jessie, are you pale? Are you okay? Is everything all right? What are you doing here? Are you taking your vitamins? Did you ever get those new sheets you told me about? How’s work? What’re you…”
During the barrage, I extricated myself from the car, trying not to wince from my sore calf muscle. I pulled my coat closely around me and made sure to keep my damp butt away from my daughter’s scrutiny. I continued, “Did that girl you told me about at the gym find out if she was pregnant? Did you try that recipe I sent you for your Grandmother’s, God rest her soul, tapioca pudding? Have you…”
It was working! Jessie’s eyes started to glaze over. I breezed by her, “Why are you standing out here in the cold? Did you lose your key? How long have you been here? Did Millie…”
I took advantage of her temporary ‘question onslaught paralysis’ to gimp by her to the back door, Still talking, I unlocked it, told her, “I need to run to the potty really badly…don’t just stand there, come in!” and limped through the door as quickly as I could.
One glance at Millie’s wide-eyed stare behind those rhinestone studded glasses, reassured me that my diversionary plan had worked well. I almost laughed out loud again, as I realized how much Jessie and Millie resembled one another. I knew it was biologically impossible, but honestly, the stunned looks on both their faces were one and the same.
Leaving the door wide open behind me, I hobbled up the stairs to my bedroom as quickly as I could. I closed the door firmly behind me and locked it. I needed a minute to pull myself together before the inquisition began.
I threw my coat onto the chair by the window and got a good whiff of myself. Yikes. I definitely needed to take care of my eau du throw-up perfume before I went back downstairs. I started the shower running, stripped, and threw the smelly clothes in the hamper. I washed my hair and the stench off my tired, old body. The steamy water warmed me up, and for the first time all day I felt almost human. I rummaged futilely for aspirin, then slathered on cookie-scented lotion and dressed in clean, cozy sweat pants and an old flannel shirt of my husband’s.
I dawdled. I pretended my daughter was not waiting downstairs for me. I slowly brushed my teeth. And my hair. I was just getting ready to fire up the blow dryer when she knocked on the bedroom door.
I ignored the plaintive, “Mom? Mom, can I come in?” for a second, and then my instinct to protect my baby kicked in.
“Jessie, I’ll be right there,” I shouted toward the closed door, “Hold on, I’m coming.”
Taking one last glance in the steamed-over bathroom mirror, I reassured myself that I didn’t look too frightening. I leaned against the door frame for a few brief seconds gathering my courage, and then I turned the knob and opened the door.
“Mom? What’s going on?” I saw her eyes sharpen as she noticed my still wet hair. “Was that your shower running? Did you take a shower?”
Darn! That girl is as sharp as a tack. Before her dad had ‘gotten his wings’, he and I used to converse about that very thing. We’d always discussed her becoming one of those tweed-suit wearing lawyers like you see on TV. I think we’d always imagined her steely gaze cross-examining jay walkers and murderers. But now that steely gaze was fixed on me, I wasn’t sure I liked it very much.
I stopped thinking for a moment and just took in my sweet daughter’s presence. Oh, I love that girl! I just love her! I pulled her into a hug and resisted the urge to tell her she felt too skinny. I took her cold, thin hand in mine and started leading her downstairs. “I’m really glad to see you, sweetie. Let me make some lunch and a pot of coffee, then we can visit.”
“Lunch, Mom? Don’t you mean dinner? What’s wrong with you?” I told you, that girl is as sharp as a tack. “Sssshhh…” I said, “I have a wicked headache. Let me find some aspirin and something for us to eat, and then you can ask me all the questions you want.”
To be continued, Tuesday, May 3.
(c) 2010 Jennifer R. Matlock
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