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Living Fiction - Chapter 37 (unedited)
Writing Fiction was always my working title, but a few weeks ago I realized I want to change it to 'Living Fiction'. It's still the continuation of the same story, but I will start using the new title from this point forward. I've made quite a few minor changes to earlier chapters to accomodate this shift in title. Thus the unedited version of this chapter...since I'm working from the beginning and moving the changes forward
Here's where Chapter 36 left you.
“Jessie,” I said wearily, “I don’t expect you to understand, but I was trying to protect you. I didn’t tell you those things to…”
“Mom? Really. This is just too much to process. I’m going home. Maybe we can talk in a few weeks. It’s hard to even look at you when everything that comes out of your mouth is a lie.” And with that harsh pronouncement she strode off...long legs taking her away from me too quickly. Shoulders set in a rigid line that warned me not to try calling after her.
As tears crept down my face I wondered how my good intentions to protect my daughter had gone so awry. My mother, God rest her soul, had always told me, ‘The road to hell is paved with good intentions.’ Maybe she was right. Maybe I was in hell.
Standing in the lonely night air and watching my daughter’s car speed down the street a few moments later, I realized how badly I had messed things up. “Jessie,” I said to myself to quietly, “Oh Jessie. Not everything I’ve told you lately has been fiction. I really do love you…and that is the honest truth.”
My husband was dead.
AND NOW, CHAPTER 37 CONTINUES...
Slowly I made my way to the kitchen door and just as I got there I heard a car turn into the driveway. “Thank God, oh, thank you God for making her come back.” I turned around ready to do a full-on mea culpa, but instead of my daughter’s car, there was Jay’s silver SUV. With Jay in it. And beside him on the front seat was Edgar. I mean Spot. The second Jay opened the door, Edgar streaked to my side! Oh, he was a happy, happy dog! His bright, chocolate brown eyes were shining with joy! His little creamy gold feet barely touched the ground in his exuberant elation.
I forgot all about my headache as I scooped him into my arms. We were both shaking in excitement.
Jay had remained beside his open car door while Edgar and I had our own little love-fest. Jay did not look happy. There was nothing elated or joyous about him. He looked exhausted. And sad. And beaten down by life. And kind of ticked off. Probably at me. The love-fest was definitely over.
“How did you know where I live?” I wondered aloud. Jay pulled a crumpled piece of paper out of his coat pocket and held it up for me to see. I was surprised to recognize my own handwriting and then I remembered. “Oh yeah, that’s right. I gave that to you the time you called me a jerk and certifiable. You told me I was pompous and self-righteous. You called me a big, FAT…”
Jay held up a hand in surrender. “Pearl, okay, yeah, maybe I was a little bit of a jerk…”
“Little bit of a jerk! Are you crazy? You…”
“Pearl, stop. Listen. You were right. Okay, maybe you weren’t right about everything but you were right that I need to figure out how to get my life back together. Or maybe I should say …how to get a life, period. This one isn’t working. Nothing is working. Everything is all fu… I mean, messed up. I told my boss I was going to take a few weeks off but then I thought…I really need to take a few fu…ummm…weeks off from everything. And everything includes Spot. No, no. Don’t even start on me. I know he’s my responsibility, but you offered…and to be really honest here, Pearl, I don’t have anyone else to leave him with and...please? Please, just stop being angry and help me out here.”
Darn! Darn, darn, darn. I hate when anyone appeals to me for help. I cannot resist any plea like this. I’m the lady you see jump out of her car at the red light to give money to the people holding cardboard signs asking for help beside the road. I’m the woman who goes back into the grocery store to get cash from the ATM so I can donate to anybody collecting money outside the sliding glass doors.
How was I supposed to resist this? How was I supposed to keep angry at Jay when a) he needed my help and b) I was holding the cutest dog in the history of the world?
So I didn’t.
“Tell me what I need to do, Jay? I don’t want to interrupt Edgar’s…I mean Spot’s…routine.”
I could see Jay visibly relax before my eyes. He actually smiled briefly at me before heading around to open the trunk. He dragged a few boxes out of it and set them on the driveway. “Lead the way, Pearl!” he said in a voice that actually sounded nice!
I put Spedgar down and headed for the back door. Jay staggered up to the porch under the weight of the boxes while the dog danced around his feet barking in delight.
“Geez, Jay, did you bring the entire pet store over?” I joked as he walked by me.
“If this is too much, Pearl, just say so. Don’t beat around the bush…if you don’t want to watch the fuc…”
“Jay, calm down. I was teasing. As in kidding. As in…you know?...giving you a rough time for fun.”
I couldn’t believe how incredibly ackward this whole thing was becoming. I’d agreed to watch the dog! I’d told him I was excited about seeing the dog! I’d practically squished Spedgar in front of him in my excitement over seeing the dog! What part of that joy could Jay have misinterpreted? Seriously.
I gave Jay a moment to compose himself, and busied myself rubbing Spedgar’s wiry little ears.
I could hear Jay moving things around and when I finally turned toward him I was surprised to see what appeared to be the actual pet store I’d been teasing him about. Then he handed me a typed up list of instructions and inquired, “Is your husband going to be okay with this whole thing? Or wait? Are you divorced?”
Darn. I tried to recall what I’d actually told Jay.
“Ummm….” I stalled.
Jay raised his eyebrows.
“Ummm…well…” I hesitated again.
I swear there must be some kind of law in the universe about me having conversations with Jay, because just as I started to tell him what my situation really was, someone knocked at the front door.
Leg cramps! Misunderstandings! Interruptions! I swear that Jay and I were doomed to never have a complete conversation.
Since the knock had come from the front of the house, I figured it was just somebody wanting me to buy girl scout cookies or an entertainment book. Imagine my surprise, when I saw a red-eyed, mascara-raccooned Jessie framed in the glass of the door!
Puzzled, I opened the door and raised my eyebrows in query. “I am NOT coming to visit you, Mother. I am coming to straighten a few things out! Do you have time to have a discussion right now?”
Mother? Discussion? What was this snippy, formal bossy stuff? Before I could enquire in a Motherly way what she wished to discuss, Spedgar came bouncing into the room. He stopped short, looked up at Jessie, and then starting going berserk. He barked. He jumped. He rolled onto his back.
“Is this...?” Jessie raised her own eyebrows in an unfinished question.
My mother, God rest her soul, had always told me to mind my manners. So I did. “Jessie, meet Spedgar, previously known as Spot and then Edgar. Spedgar, meet Jessie.”
And then when Jay walked into the room to see why Spedgar was so excited, I introduced them as well. “Jay, meet my daughter, Jessie. Jessie, this is Jay…Spedgar’s ummm…owner.”
Jessie looked confused. “Mom? I thought you said a little boy lost Spot?”
I did? I said that?
I couldn’t remember. “Jessie, I don’t remember saying that.”
“Yes, Mom. You did. Say that. You said when you returned the dog there was a little boy who cried. And you went to dinner. And they gave you a reward. And the little boy had named the dog Spot because that was the only dog name he knew. Ding, ding, Mom. Is this ringing a bell at all with you?”
Jay looked puzzled. “Reward? Little boy? Pearl?”
Jessie and Jay stared at me with the same look of confusion on their face. Spedgar just rolled around on his back by their feet. It took me a few seconds to remember my tall tale. It took me about 1.2 seconds after that to start praying for the floor to swallow me. It didn’t. I figured the way my life had been going lately there would be a knock at the door any second giving me time to figure out how to wriggle out of this mess. There wasn’t. Where in the heck was a good interruption or leg cramp when you needed it?
I took a deep breath, “Okay, calm down everybody. I can explain.”
In unison, just like they’d practice the sarcasm for months Jessie and Jay replied, “Yeah, I just bet you can.”
I opened my mouth to start talking but instead of words, wails came out instead.
To be continued on Tuesday, May 31st.
(c) 2010 Jennifer R. Matlock
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