Outrageous behavior?  Me?  At this thought, the silver-haired woman smirked at herself in the bathroom mirror.  Not me.  Not me.  A good song title.

Forming a finger gun and pointing it at her reflection, Ruth feigned firing at herself. Peering at her plain face that no longer looked like her, she remarked, “Chicken shit!  There’s a good song title.”

Taking her time, she brushed her teeth.  Not bothering to brush her unkempt hair, she left it loose and flowing past her shoulders.

Yeah.  The easy life, she thought while pulling on her boots.  I’m just like a cheese sandwich packed in an insulated lunch bag.  How’d I end up like this?  Nice and safe.  Except for my fucking patio.

She reflected back on her particularly gruesome fall a month ago.  Yancy, her neighbor, found her bloodied and unconscious spread-eagled on her uneven flagstone patio in the front yard.  After emergency technicians loaded her into the ambulance, he had followed her to the hospital.

She remembered refusing to talk with Yancy after she woke in the hospital the next morning.  He had been there the entire night helping field questions about her.  Driving her home from the hospital, he described how he had found her sprawled unconscious in the garden.

“A beautiful sight.  Red.  Everywhere! Flashes of red from the humming birds flitting past your bloody face.  There you were, camouflaged by those red tube flowers.  Thankfully, you were breathing.”  He had kept up the annoying chatter until arriving home.  After parking, he helped her walk to her kitchen door.

“Only for You,” proclaimed Yancy.  With a flourish, he presented her a sealed envelope.  Scrawled on it, was her name.  In a seductive manner, he added, “Just a little something for you to consider.”  After she slammed the door on him and entered her house, she burned the sealed envelope on the kitchen stove.

Her mind returned to the present from her flash to the past.  She finished pulling on her boots and white, denim jacket.  Then, walked into the kitchen to glance at the clock and retrieve her white, denim tote bag.  Without it hanging from her shoulder, she felt naked and unprepared for her day of trudging to the beach and around town.

They fixed the gash on my head, but not in my heart.  No more Ms. Spectacular.  Just Ms. Must-Trudge-On.

Without locking her kitchen door behind her, she stepped out onto her patio.

Oh.  My old nemesis.  Just try it.  I’ll replace you with smooth concrete.

On the way to her daily destination, her thoughts bathed her existence with grimy echoes of sadness.  Tense with pain, she walked along the street leading to the ocean overlook.  The cool moisture of the air tingled her face during her journey toward a grey-blue, steel wall, a mirage.  The fog bank ahead had merged with the ocean horizon, each a reflection of the other.  Still, the effect was insufficient, as a distraction, until she stood on the rise above the ocean.  She closed her eyes and breathed in the fresh air.

Page one excerpt from Road Noise Short Stories To Thrill and Chill  2016 © Belinda A. Allen

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