She said I would be seeing stars by the time she finished with me, so I ran as far from her as I could get.
Now I’m lying in the field behind the high school, looking up at the night sky – it’s full of twinkles of light.
Perhaps she’s finished with me.
I wish that she would just come out and tell me when she was angry but that never has been her way.
She likes things to smolder. She likes to keep me on the edge. I think that it’s part of my punishment for upsetting her – first I had to suffer, then she could freak out, then I could apologize.
I’m tired of the whole mess though. The routine has gotten to me.
I have a stack of books and a purse full of snacks. This time I can wait her out.
(I wrote this yesterday but couldn’t post it.)
He had been watching her every since he had taken the seat across from her. He must have been working up the courage to speak.
“Hey, Joanne! So good to see you! What have you been up to?”
“I’m not Joanne.”
She kept reading, she didn’t want to encourage him.
“Don’t be so foolish, Joanne, I’d know you anywhere.”
She gave him her coldest glare.
“I don’t know you.”
She reached for the cord to get the driver to stop at the next corner.
Joanne got up off her seat, walked down over the steps and onto the sidewalk. She clicked her way along toward her house down the street.
He might have called her by the right name, then and now. but he never did know who she was.
My gum was useless. The flavour was long gone and my jaw was getting a workout from chewing it.
I didn’t want to litter, so I grabbed a piece of paper out of my purse and wrapped my gum in it before tucking the neat little package into the pointless pocket in my jeans. It seemed fitting, since I could never find anything else to go in there.
I forgot all about the whole thing until I was pulling my jeans out of the dryer this morning. Not only was that tiny pointless pocket full of gum and bits of paper, but one of those bits clearly showed the number 5.
That’s when my mind scrolled back past the useless gum to the reason I had been chewing gum in the first place. The guy doing my interview had offered it to me. And, right before that, he had given me the number for his direct line – written on a yellow post-it note.
The light from the fire smoothed out the lines on everyone’s faces, made them look a little less harsh.
Jenny looked from person to person, drinking in every detail.
She wanted to remember this night forever.
Sure, once the cops got there, she’d probably be dragged off to jail, but at least she had finally gotten to meet her neighbours.
We haven’t been getting along lately.
Nothing serious, just usual mom and teenager angst. Him trying to be more grown-up than he is, me forgetting that he is more grown-up than I think.
This morning’s argument was about a sweatshirt, of all things. I thought he should bring it, just in case. He insisted it was too warm to need it.
This time, I managed to stop before I yelled.
Sadly, that doesn’t mean I took the high road. I imagine my exhaled ‘Fine.’ conveyed just as much exasperation as yelling would have.
I washed the breakfast dishes and watched him as he ambled down the driveway. The sight of his bare arms chilled me, but I didn’t knock on the window and demand he come back for his sweatshirt. Time for him to face the consequences. It’s not like he would actually freeze at this temperature.
He was passing our neighbour’s driveway when he stopped and eased the strap of his book bag over his head. He opened the flap and started digging for something.
I couldn’t help rolling my eyes. What was he after forgetting now? Was there ever going to come a time when I could trust him to look after himself?
He stood up, his sweatshirt in his hand. He put his arms through the sleeves and pulled up the zipper before looking back toward our house.
I blew him a kiss. He grinned and gave me the thumbs up before picking up his book bag and strolling away.
I think we’re both going to be just fine.
Lisa knew the perfect ritual of cold cloths and matte powder that would disguise the fact that she had been crying.
She got lots of practice.
She would sit in the car and have a little cry before she went into the office every morning. She repeated the performance before going into her house at night.
But she always made a point of telling people she was fine.
It was better to keep that shield up.
Fine kept people from asking more questions, kept her from asking herself more questions.
She didn’t want to figure out why he had left. She didn’t want to ask herself what she was going to do next.
She just wanted everything to be fine.
‘Come in and close the door.’
Her voice was soft, she was clearly trying to keep me calm.
‘Would you like to sit down?’
She was still using that tone. I suspect they taught that in some psych class along the way. It probably had a euphemistic name like ‘Patient-Counsellor Connections’ or something like that.
There was no tone, no psychologist magic that was going to calm me down today. I had something to say and I needed every ounce of anger to stay brave enough to say it.
I perched on the edge of the leather chair across from hers. I leaned forward, my elbows on my knees, my hands clasped to keep them from shaking.
‘Why don’t you tell me what’s troubling you?’ The worst was that she sounded sincere, I almost believed she cared.
What was troubling me? Where did I start? Did I complain about how she reported our sessions back to my mother? How she and Mom had portioned out their advice so it would seem like I was hearing the same thing from two independent sources? Did I tell her about the frustration? The feeling of betrayal?
The words bubbles into my throat and clamoured to get out of my mouth. I swallowed them down and let a single phrase escape.
She loved her house but she had always hated her neighbourhood.
Her neighbours were obsessed with keeping tidy lawns, but hers was a dandelioned haven for the bees.
Every family on the street had at least two cars, but her driveway was full of planters. Her bike was just chained to the fence.
Every single one of them owned a fire pit. Instead of getting together at one house on summer evenings, every single family had their own fire with their own music blaring.
Those nights were the worst but, really, they were all making noise all the time. Car doors slamming – did no one just close a door any more? Kids squealing – had they never heard of quiet games? Lawn mowers growling – does the grass really need to be cut that often?
It was exasperating.
She had often thought of moving but she didn’t figure she could afford a new house in this market.
When the whistling noise started this morning, she thought that her neighbours had expanded the hours of their tyranny. But this was something else entirely.
She sat on her step with her morning smoothie and surveyed the damage.
She wouldn’t go so far as to say that her undamaged home was a sign of her virtues, but the fact that every other house had been essentially vapourized was definitely a sign of their sins.
These shoes pinched her toes but they looked great, and that was key.
She could feel everyone’s eyes on her so she glanced at them, remembering to keep her smile small so she would look a little nervous.
He reached for her hand so she let him take it. No point in ruining all her hard work over a little physical contact.
After 10 minutes of droning, the minister was getting to the important part.
“If anyone here knows of any reason why these two should not be joined in holy matrimony, let them speak now or forever hold their peace.”
One one thousand, two one thousand…she counted out thirty seconds in her head. That seemed long enough.
No one had said a word so the minister started droning on again.
She was in the clear.
She has gotten away with it.