Saturday, March 29, 2008

Short Story Saturday

Jennifer flopped down onto the grass, on her back, staring up at the sky, but not seeing the snail shaped cumulous clouds that scuttled by. Truth was, she wasn't really looking.
Instead, she was trying to sort out the myriad of thoughts going through her mind. Her mind, which she had been unable to turn off for the last three nights. As a result, she had been dragging herself to work each morning, heavy lidded and exhausted.
This morning, though, she just couldn't fathom sitting in front of that desk any longer, staring at all those numbers, and trying to make them all balance.
So she called in sick, considering it a 'mental health day', and took herself away. Outdoors. To one of her favorite places, where she could sit in peace, and relative quietness, not seeing the sky, and sorting out the issues of her world, as best she could.
Rolling over, she crossed her arms, and laid her head down on them, smelling the sweet smell of grass, and the loamy scent of the earth. Closing her eyes, she drowsed in the warmth of the sun. "Just a short nap" the thought to herself, as she dozed off.
A short time later, she woke up. Her mind, unhappy that she had managed to subdue it with warm sunshine, had tricked her, and given her a nightmare, instead of a dream. Sitting up, she reached into her back pack for the Odwalla Mango Tango she'd brought with her. Taking a big drink of it, she rubbed the sleep out of her eyes, and, began to do what she came out to the outdoors for.
To think.
All this had started three weeks ago, when Charlie, a man from work, had come in late. "You look awful" she'd said to him, trying to be empathetic. She wished now she had never opened her mouth. Hearing her words, Charlie had turned towards her, eyes red and wet.
"Thanks" he had replied, then sat down in the chair at her desk, and spilled his guts. He told her of every problem he and his wife were going through. How she didn't talk to him, anymore. How their therapist recommended they just divorce now, and get it over with. How his favorite dog had run away.
She had not been surprised, because she and her husband had eaten dinner with Charlie and his wife, once before. And it had been a miserable experience. One they'd never repeated.
But she'd sat and listened to him, making the appropriate sympathetic murmurs from time to time, thankful that she and Jake had such a good relationship.
Or so she had thought.
She'd gone home, that evening, so sure of herself. Cocky, even.
Until she walked in the door, and crashed immediately into 3 packed suitcases in the hallway.
Her husband was standing in the living room, sorting through their CD's with a box at his feet. The box was half full of movies. Movies that they had bought together.
"Going somewhere?" she asked, eyebrows raised in surprise, heart racing.
He turned to face her, and she shut her eyes against his handsomeness.
"Yeah", he answered, voice raspy. "I can't do this anymore, babe. It is time for me to leave."
"What do you mean, leave? And that is MY Rush CD in your hand" she answered, knowing she wasn't going to like what he had to say.
Gently, he put the Rush CD back into the rack. "She knows that one is my favorite" he thought, sourly.
"What I mean is, our marriage, it's a charade. It's fake. It is superficial. And I want more" he clarified, a little harsh, because she had denied him the Rush CD.
As the pain of his words hit her, she sank down to the floor, in disbelief. But, in her heart, she knew he spoke the truth. And that sometimes, the truth hurt.
They'd been high school sweethearts. "Jennie and Jake" had been carved into tree's. written on notebooks, and PeeChee folders. No one had been surprised when they announced their engagement, shortly after they'd both finished college. Every day, people asked them when they were going to have children. They always said the same thing. "Give us time." Truth was, they had been trying for a year, with no baby. And now she was starting to understand why.
It had been three weeks since Jake had left, in his dark green Suburban. Each evening, she set the table for two, thinking this would be the night Jake came back. But he hadn't. And Charlie was now looking at her with sympathy in HIS eyes. He and his wife had found a new therapist, one who didn't recommend divorce. And now Jennifer was the one who was without her "other half" and looking like she was going to end up in divorce court.
She rolled back up to face the sky, and the sun, ignoring the buzz of her cell phone at her hip, after checking to make sure it wasn't Jake. It wasn't, it was work, and, well. She'd called in sick for a reason. She didn't need to answer them, now.
After a while, her stomach started to grumble with hunger, so she got up, gathered her back pack with her unread book, her wallet, and her car keys and started walking the path back to her car. She found a parking ticket on the windshield of her blue Audi, and just shook her head. Apparently, she had been there longer than the three hours that were allotted. Crumpling it up, she tossed it onto the passenger side floorboard, and started her car.
"To hell with it" she thought to herself, and headed to the nearest Taco Hell. Once there, she ordered herself 3 crunch wraps, and a Mountain Dew baja blast, and sat down at the corner table to eat and drink. She knew that she would be sick later, but, she just didn't care. She had not eaten at a Taco Hell in at least five years, but now seemed like the time to do it.
Sitting there, by herself, she became bored, rather quickly. Taking out her cell phone, she decided she would call her friend, Marcy, to see what was up. She noticed she had a new voicemail, and sighing, she took another drink of the sticky sweet baja blast, and dialed in to hear the message.
"Uh, hi, uh, Jennifer?" Great. It was Charlie.
"Listen. I don't know how to tell you this. But, ah. Yeah. They are closing the company. We are all being let go, as of today. So, uh, you need to come and get all your personal items, and your last paycheck. Sorry. Bye."
"Shit!" she thought frantically. "The mortgage payment is coming up, I have no freaking clue where Jake is, and now, I have no job!" Looking down at all the un eaten Taco Hell on her tray she bitterly considered all the money she had just wasted on fast food. Getting up, she slid the whole mess into the trash, and walked back to her car, dialing Marcy as she went.
The phone rang, a few times. Then, much to her shock, it was answered.
By Jake.
"Oh, Jake? I thought I called Marcy" she warbled nervously, all the blood rushing out of her head.
"Damn it Marcy, how many times do I have to tell you to get caller ID" whispered Jake.
Jennifer simply hung up, defeated. She laid her head down on her steering wheel, and found that she was beyond crying. After a few minutes, she lifted her chin, and, wiping her dry eyes, drove to work, and picked up her belongings, and her scant, last paycheck.
Driving towards home, she considered her options. What she'd really like to do is burn the place down. And run away. Far away. But she couldn't do that.
She could go back to Tennessee, and live with her parents.
But she swore she'd never do that again.
She knew the best thing to do was to put the house on the market, immediately. She could not afford, obviously, to keep it. And she doubted Jake would be much help. His job as a grocery store manager did not pay an awful lot. Marcy was a real estate agent. She could list it. The thought of that just made her laugh, outright.
When she got home, she was not surprised to see Jake and Marcy standing on the steps. A For Sale sign was already up in the yard.
"Wonderful" she thought. "I cannot take anymore." Getting out of the car, she began to pick rocks up out of the driveway, and throw them at Jake, and Marcy. She was a pitcher on her school softball team, and was pleased to find that her aim was still true. As Jake clutched his head, Marcy whipped out her cell phone, and called 9-1-1. All the neighbors came out to watch, including that nosy old lady, Edna, with her ga-gillion cats, and those know it all's, the Petersons. Before long, Jennifer found herself, bound up in a straight jacket, and headed to Madrone Hills, the mental facility. "Fantastic" she thought. Now I don't have to come up with the mortgage.


My Own Woman said...

Hearbreaking story. Through your words, I felt every bit of emotion, frustration and defeat that was echoed throughout your story. What is really sad is that it's true, in a moment, your whole life's perspective can change in an instance.
Great story.

My expressions LIVE said...

Excellent work! I could feel Jennifers emotions. I like all the detail,many people can relate with this story. Wow.....very good! I liked it a lot.

Daryl said...

Oh good one .. I was hoping she'd kill them both . .I really felt Jen's angst .. woman you get better and better with each story!

CamiKaos said...

good one mie.

sybil law said...

Oooh I liked it.
Jake is a prick, as evidenced by the fact that he drove a green Suburban.
Haha kidding...
Anyway, this was a great story!

holly said...

aaaaaah. that's better. it was hard going through saturday without my mie story. :)

Bubblewench said...

your stories kick ass....

also gave me an idea if I ever can't come up with the mortgage.. hmmm...