Okay, so you’ll have to read Story Start–Untitled–Part 1 to know what this whole story is actually about. Anyway, here’s the second installment which really needs a title, y’all:
Toilet tissue. That’s the first thing she bought after escaping prison. Some might have thought it would be a stiff drink or maybe a weapon but within just a few hours of her escape she was seated on the cool tile floor of the Woolworths sniffing and squishing rolls of toilet tissue. The TP in the prison was made of crushed glass and wood splinters. It could easily have been strung up to replace the barbed wire which topped the fence of the prison yard. Had the police ever done time… they might have guessed where she’d go.
A guard had taken a liking to her and smuggled her a dress which she’d kept in her pillow. The guard, a grandfatherly fellow, thought it was an odd request until she’d explained how much she missed the feel of soft fabric on her skin. Before long, he’d brought her a pretty cerulean blue checkered dress of light cotton.
As she walked down to the bus stop, her thoughts turned to Dean and her sweet little Charlie with his mop of swirling flaxen curls.
They’d married just a few days after they’d met. She’d looked deeply into his heavily lashed Frank Sinatra eyes and never looked back. Dean worked as a mechanic though he dreamed of being an artist. She loved catching him with his sketchbook tucked behind his Bible — drawing her as she cooked dinner, brushed her dirty-dishwater blonde hair, or kissed Charlie’s pudgy hands while he squirmed in her lap. Charlie was barely two when he started getting sick. The doctors weren’t sure what was wrong and the bills mounted up. Dean and those eyes of his said it all… the worry, the stress of having a sick baby, and the ache of knowing that there just wasn’t enough money.
Somehow in the blur of the hospital, the late night calls from doctors, and the impenetrable depths of Dean’s eyes… she failed to see the well-dressed men in her living room or the strange hours Dean was pulling at work. She didn’t notice that the piles of bills disappeared or that Dean no longer came home with grease on his uniform — or perhaps she just didn’t care. She didn’t realize just what Dean had done until little Charlie closed his eyes forever and she turned away from the tiny casket to see a church full of people she only knew from the papers.
That night, she confronted Dean. Dean worked making the plates used to print money for the folks that need that sort of thing. The same folks that slaughtered family members then mourned them publicly. The extra money paid Charlie’s bills but Dean knew it wouldn’t be long before he would be eliminated. It was all set. She was to run away in the morning and never return to their tiny apartment in the low rent section of Chicago.
Of course, things never go as planned.
She pushed those thoughts out of her head and clutched her grocery bag of toilet tissue. She had a brand new life ahead of her. As she took a seat on the bus in her rumpled gingham dress, the driver turned toward her with her ticket still in his stubby fingers and said, “All the way to Virginia with no luggage, Miss Evelyn?”
“I’ve gone longer with less.” She replied and turned to look out the smudged window as the bus roared away from the curb.
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