A woman who is unable to see who she really is and may just get her just desert.
|Laura Crimmon smiled reliving the ribbon ceremony at the church bake off. She adjusted the volume of her radio. She did not like distractions while driving, even if it was Pastor Evans sermon. Now, that was a good honest man, she thought to herself. Unlike that good for nothing Jim Hodgins, next door. She had seen the empty bottles of beer in his trash. His wife Julia was probably too embarrassed to remove them from public view. Perhaps she herself would wait until dark and take them out of the garbage, put them into the recycle bin. Just because the neighbors were sinners, did not mean she could not show neighborly love. Laura narrowed her small grey eyes. Maybe she would call Sister Evelyn and invite her to dinner; they could have her famous Vanilla Blackberry cake for desert. She glanced over to the passenger seat where the prim white box with the big blue ribbon sat and patted the lid lovingly. If Sister Evelyn just happened to notice the empty bottles, well that certainly could not be any fault of her own. Maybe Julia would think twice about bragging about those two snotty boys of hers. Laura had never found the time for children herself. After all, the Lords work was never done. Laura pursed her lips thinking about the obnoxious family letter they sent out each year at Christmas. Jim did this at his job, we went on vacation here, we are so proud, blah, blah, blah, we are so blessed, blah, blah, blah. She would not know a blessing if it bit her on the end of her nose, Laura thought pursing her lips tighter. It had been a habit since high school and small deep lines were beginning to form around her mouth. No matter, she would not have any need of the devils surgery in heaven.
She clicked the the ends of her short stubby fingers against the leather steering wheel, admiring the clear polish of her neatly manicured nails. Laura frowned, that just reminded her of Patricia. Patricia Sherman, that bitch had been waving her skinny little fingers in front of her face all day at the church. Pretending to be so busy, directing everyone here and there. A gaudy French manicure on each pointy tip. Whore. She was sure she was just rubbing her nose in the fact that she had lost out to her as event planner. Well she was not going to make it easy for her, no sirie. She was still president elect of the Harrisonville Baptist Women’s Charity Group and the all-final vote had to pass by her. She would rather strip naked, dip herself in honey, and dangle over an ant’s hill before she would let that hussy bring down the church. The look on Patricia’s’ face when they announced first place was priceless in her good book. Laura stole another look at her prize-winning confection, smiling smugly.
She did not notice the squirrel protectively hovering over an acorn in the middle of the road. Some people think of squirrels as nothing more than a rat with a fluffy tail. Not Laura, when she had taken up ceramics three years ago, her first project had been a baby squirrel wearing a small flower cup turned over as a little hat. She had carefully painted the petals Blushing Pink, and made sure to paint the fur as realistically as possible using individual strokes of her brush. She even used two different shades of brown. The instructor, Molly Hemsworth, had marveled at her work, calling the rest of the class around to see. She actually told her later that she had been concerned the project was too much to take on as a first project, but that she had been wrong. Indeed. So began her love of all things squirrel. She still had that piece. It holds the place of honor on the mantel above the fireplace and reads, “The squirrel that you kill in jest, dies in earnest“-Henry David Thoreau. So very true.
She returned her gaze to the road ahead and her small grey eyes widened in shock at the sight of the furry creature. Laura instinctively slammed on her brakes. The rear of the SUV fishtailed as she fought to gain control. Turning hard to the left, then to the right, the vehicle shuttered back and forth finally righting itself and smoothing out. Laura hit the brake again, slowly this time, and put the car in park. Desperately searching her rearview mirror for signs of the tiny body, she breathed a sigh of relief. Nothing. Oh, thank you Jesus she prayed. She took a breath and put the car back in drive. Adrenaline had pumped through her body and now that the need of it had passed, she was becoming aware of an acrid smell in the car. Her face burned hot and the sensation spread from her cheeks down her neck and across her shoulders realizing where the smell was coming from. From her own under panties. Shame swept over her at having peed herself and she fought back the urge of wanting to cry and throw up at the same time. She hated getting older and asked God not for the first time, how much longer must she abide in this meat sack. She was ready to come home, Lord. Reaching for the power window button, she lowered the passenger side several inches. Laura left the drivers window up, as she did not want to disturb her hair. This would just have to be her little secret. Hers and the Lord. She smiled at the thought. Who would ever guess that she, Laura Crimmon had actually peed herself? It made her feel special, smarter than everyone else. She would simply park in the garage and quietly slip into her bathroom, shower, and take her clothes to the laundry. No one would ever know. Laura began to giggle.
Jenny sat in the stalled car and cried. She had pulled over to try to get a signal from her stupid phone and now here she sat stuck in the mud. That just summed it up, didn’t it? She was going to be late to pick up Joey and Mrs. Krutcher charged her an extra five dollars for every fifteen minutes after 5:30. Jenny dug through a couple of empty fast food bags looking for a napkin. She pulled several out and took two, dropping the rest in her lap. She blew her nose, balled up the napkin, and threw it to the floor. The car was a piece of shit and she really did not care if it was buried in trash. Who knew how long she would sit here. By the time help came along she would owe all her tips for the day to Mrs. Krutcher. Jenny cried some more and wiped her eyes. Why was it that every time she had made up her mind to do better, and meant it, something else happened?
It started in tenth grade, Rush Land Sr. High. She was stupid enough to let Rob Turner into her pants and every time, he would go running his mouth to his friends. They would talk crap about her in the hallways, standing around in a group next to her locker. Snickering at her and calling her a slut. She had not even liked Rob for Christ sake, but he was the closest thing to a boyfriend she guessed she would ever have. Jenny brushed her greasy blond hair out of her face and hung her head, staring at the napkin in her hands. She had become sick of him after three months and had decided she was through with him finally. That was when she found out she was pregnant. She was not sorry about that. Joey was a cool kid. He did not cry much and she liked it that he smiled at her all the time. She loved him and he loved her. She absently swiped her runny nose with her hand. Joey had definitely got rid of Rob, no problem there.
She took a deep breath and grabbed the handle of the door. She threw her shoulder against the door two times to pop it open and stepped out.
Crouching down to get a look under the car, she picked up a stick lying nearby and poked at the mud to see how deep it was. She did not have a clue how to get out of this but felt like she should be doing something. Maybe if she gathered a bunch of leaves from the trees next to the road, she could stuff them around the tires to get some traction. She saw that in a movie or something. She thought it was kitty litter she was supposed to use. Jenny did not have any kitty litter hanging around in the trunk because she sure as hell could not afford a cat. Leaves would have to do. She would still be late but she was feeling excited at the thought that this may be a problem she could solve herself. Her sneakers sucked into the mud with every step toward the woods. Jenny rather liked it out here. It was late September and pretty warm in spite of the rain. The leaves were all gold and orange and everything smelled both clean and dusty at the same time. It smelled like Halloween, her favorite holiday. She liked dressing Joey up and taking him out for candy. This year he wanted to be a ninja. It was not very imaginative, but he was her son after all. Poor little guy. She smiled to herself thinking about him. He was going to be okay, smarter than her she could tell.
The first three trips she used her arms like a rake to pull as many leaves towards her as she could. Slowly she would stand cradling the leaves in her arms and cursed each time half of them floated back down onto her shoes. The next two times she took off her jacket and used it like a sling. Shoving leaves into the armholes as well. She thought it looked good and used her foot to try to pack it in as close to the tires as possible. She stepped into her car and slammed the door.
“Please God, please, please, please”, she held her breath and turned the key. The engine turned and roared to life. Jenny laughed and kissed the steering wheel. She would have to do this right or start all over with the leaf thing and she was starting to get cold. She knew she would have to get the car to rock back and forth. She hit the gas, and again, it roared to life. Jenny felt the car try to lurch forward. Letting off the gas, the car released back. Again, she hit the gas, and eased off.
“Please dear God. I really need to get to Joey, if you could help me,” she prayed.
The car was moving a little but it was not going anywhere. There was just too much mud and water. She placed her head against the wheel and closed her eyes; she did not even feel like crying anymore. It was starting to get dark and she would have to start walking, Mrs. Krutchers’ had to be a least five miles.
She got out of the car and stuffed her keys into her pocket, not bothering to lock the doors. Her jacket was wet and she zipped it all the way. Wrapping her arms around herself and tucking her hands under her armpits, she began to walk.
As far as Laura was concerned, anything that was funny about this situation was over. She was uncomfortable stewing in her own pee and it was starting to irritate her skin. The smell was not getting any better either. She needed to take her mind off her wet clothes and reached for the radio. Pastor Evans sermon would be over by now, but if she switched to AM, she may be able to catch The Gospel Hour with Pastor Sally Shepherd and the Newland Choir. There had not been a car to pass for miles and in her present mood, if there was a squirrel in the road, it was just going to die by God. She reached over to change the station swerving slightly to the right.
Something slammed against the right headlight and disappeared under the car. The SUV bumpily drove over whatever it was causing Laura to gash her head on the steering wheel. It only took two or three seconds and it was over. Laura moved the mirror down to access the damage to her face. She could taste the salty metallic blood in her mouth. She was an absolute mess from the wide split across her bottom lip, probably from hitting against her tooth. Nothing felt loose. There was going to be a bump across the bridge of her nose, it was already starting to swell, though it did not look broken. Thank god for that. Her car was another matter. She hated to get out of the car. It was cold.
“Oh, mother Mary of God, my cake”! She cried.
The white box now lay on the passenger side floor. The cake was absolutely ruined. Laura cried as she desperately tried to scoop the cake up intact. Pieces of moist, dark, cake fell from each side. It stuck white frosting side down onto the floorboard carpet.
“Damn it“! She had wanted this prize for so long. Now finally she had success and some damn dog had ruined everything. She hoped it was a whole pack of dogs she hit.
Laura turned off the engine and stepped out. Not seeing anything in the road from where she stood, she walked toward the back of the vehicle. There, half under her car lay a young girl. Laura felt as though she had been stuck with an electric prod. The sensation moved through her nerve system from the top of her head down her body and to her feet. She could not move. Her hearing seemed muffled and time seemed to stop. It was eerily quiet.
She calmly turned away from the body and opened her driver’s door. She stepped in and closed the door. Reaching with her right hand, she grabbed the seat belt and pulled it around locking it into place. Laura started her car and drove. Pulling into the driveway, she parked and got out. Had she meant to park in the garage? She could not remember. She smoothed her hair and skirt and went into her house. She was so tired, what a long drive. Some miles behind her, lay the crumpled body of a once sad girl, but today was her lucky day. In the open palm of her broken and bloodied left hand, was a pretty blue ribbon.