Monroe and Mansfield at a Picnic
By Zoe Rose
She’d been pushing 40 in a 25, flirting with a ticket she couldn’t pay, but this was it baby- the big gig, finally, and she was going to blow it by being ten or god-all-damn even twenty minutes late. Rolling up close was her turn, shortcut through a residential street, and she pulled her car a hard left to make it. Had she not been racing to make an interview, make her life back whole, she might’ve noticed how lovely, how springtime, the afternoon was thawing out to be.
The girl (though perhaps to say “the woman” would be more appropriate- she was 25 but built little, like she was still waiting on the last stages of puberty) dug her fresh-painted nails into the steering wheel as she weaved between the lefts and rights to avoid parked cars and the grey arcs of sprinklers. Seeing nobody around- no dog walkers or kids coming home from school or elderly men looking at other lives out on their porch- she risked bringing her speed up again to 35.
Houses and cars and dead lawns blurred by. It was only until she drove past too many, too much, did she realize with that sinking oh oh oh! feeling that she had taken the wrong turn. There was no room on the road to spin her car around and try to fix her mistake, no clear driveway to pull into and reverse out. She was already 16 minutes late.
So okay. She’d try finding a cul-de-sac to loop through. She covered her car’s analog clock with the restaurant's business card and kept going.
The only noise to be made, out of this entire place built for life and people, was the air pulsing through her cracked windows and the rattle of an engine on its last trek. Of course the girl, in her bit-back misery, didn’t hear any of this.
The street seemed to widen up ahead, a sky peeking through the intertwined trees that framed the sidewalk. Moving on that one hope, that she could finally turn back the right way and somehow get the manager to think she wouldn’t be this late to any shifts and get a real apartment for herself and never have to look at that foul-fisted lover ever again, she put more weight on the accelerant and didn’t even see that pole that came cutting into the front of the Buick.
The glass tinkled, its sound of fragility signing off, as it shattered and sprinkled the ground below. The girl’s car didn’t beep or honk or give any indication that it knew what happened. It just stopped in its point of collision, never to run again. The card flew off the clock, which still blinked the time. She was 34 minutes late and she would never run again either.
The girl stayed calm, though. She didn’t feel any pain or damage. She pulled her purse out from under metal in the passenger’s seat and got out, minding the shards and pieces all around. Her heels clicked away from the scene and towards a park the street had apparently ended into.
Up a hill in the distance, two blonde heads gleamed under the now full-out sunshine. The day had grown warm and breezy, springtime for sure. One of the blondes turned and saw her. She pulled an arm back and forth into a big wave.
“Hey!” The pleasant voice called out, “Come on up!”
The girl took the steps cut into the incline up to them. They were very pretty women and a little older than the girl. They motioned for her to come sit on their blanket. She did. She was not uncomfortable.
“We’ve still got some wine and cherry pie,” Said the one with the longer hair, the one who had waved, “please, help yourself.”
The girl poured herself a glass, cut herself a slice. She stole a glance back down at her wrecked car and last hope.
“Don’t worry about that,” The other woman said, a slight twinge in her smile, “it’ll all get cleaned up soon.”
The girl smiled back. She didn’t want to spend her life waiting tables and cleaning motels anyway. There were too many worries she had been trying to fix. The women, all three, were just fine where they were. In this place, she would never have to worry again.
© 2018 All Rights Reserved by the Author, published here by permission.
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