|The neighbors are starting their lawn mowers. The sound is not by any means soothing, but the spring breeze seems to carry it away down to the main stretch of town, much like papers being carried away in the wind. The sound carries all across the neighborhood and echoes down the main street where they are eventually drowned by the mid-afternoon traffic. The warmth ferments the smell of blossom and jasmine. Several kids are leaping through the bushes on the sidewalks and likewise the older woman across the way is mumbling to herself about her garden and the shovel she left at Ralph’s the other day. The day is pleasant. No one seems to mind the mild heat and the light wind. Most would expect only a handful of these days to appear during the year, for good reason too. Here, in this strange place, half way between rural and some significantly populated town, the amount of bearable days are seldom. The tourists will no doubt be taking to the town this afternoon until late into the evening. Smocked in their khaki shorts and light weight blouses they will soon plague the town with their slow mobility and awful commentaries. The mild days provide even more native-foreigner tension than the absolutely unholy hot days seen in mid-July. So, with the town overrun with city savages, most of the locals tend to sit on their porches and enjoy the one day they get each year. A short lived silver-lining from this spiteful place.
A glass drops. The sound it makes, a deadening thud and some clings of the broken glass.
Not these girls again. Since last week she had been followed by them. On the way back from trips to the grocery store and even back from work late at night. She only knew one of them; Avery, a bird-looking young woman with inset eyes and a nice scowl.
There’s no chance of avoidance now. Best drop everything and run.
Make it around the corner and then sprint through the yard—then back over the fence—turn—up the street—hop the neighbor’s five and half foot fence—through the back door next to the garbage cans. If the assailants are too close behind, make a run down the main street—jump over the two cars parked neatly in front of Sam’s—dash through the sidewalk construction—into Ed’s Liquor Mart.
A few more steps… until the corner where the sidewalk—ends. Run. But, behind the fence? How lovely she looks, but she doesn’t step forward to apologize for her misstep. A mistake was made. How angelic and welcoming the line of an anglerfish looks before the first bite. And then, the plan becomes tarnished. How awful things seem to be going right now, looking up instead of looking behind her. Fists soon proceed, feet thereafter. All sound is muted, and even the traffic transfixes itself in time. She is beside herself, she can see Mrs. Leonard’s shovel in Ralph’s yard. That shouldn’t be there; hopefully they don’t catch a glimpse of it. A critical hit to the ribs and then back followed by a clearly tactical swing to the nose. The nostrils bleed hatred. A hatred so deep and intrinsic that it frightened her more than the brutal and animal nature of each hand that reached out to grab her. She would ask God to help her—she knows better though—a foolish request made by a foolish woman being reprimanded for god only knows what. Such a request was comical; especially in this place where although the children played and sang, the birds remained still and silenced. God couldn’t hear her here.
She can only see one thing in clear light: her fingernails. A pastel baby blue in color, chipped and riveted. Just like the kicks and screams riveted her bones. It’s a shame, she just painted them. The blood is running from deep within her bones to her cells, leaking out through the skull, trickling like a light rain down to the cheekbone. Next, the torso. Each girlish woman takes her turn. Pain is no longer a factor; either by means of adrenaline or shock, her body feels none of it. The lights fade, the sun sets, and all vision is lost. Senses shutting down. Maybe the shovel had been employed; maybe she had simply passed out. But that’s all she can recall. For now.
An amount of clarity seems to awake her from her daze that is shielded beneath her sunglasses and sundress. Lemonade all over the porch, she rolls forward to get the broom. Off the front porch—skid from the bristles of the broom—fly off the steps—into the ashy dirt. Into the dirt.
Pain is still not a factor; the worse of it was chased away by the mild day. Children are singing and playing across the street. Mrs. Leonard is still griping about her shovel, nothing has changed in the last five seconds. And now, as this mild day melts away—now, in the sunlight, she paints over her nails the same pastel blue, not even bothering to remove the result of the previous evening.
Straight no chaser, paint right over.