Want me to write a book? You get to pick it! I’ll be posting snippets from the dozen or so I have been working on, and you’ll pick which one I finish! More details will be on the way in the coming weeks.
This post is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to real people or events would be just plain weird.
“Can we stop and get something to eat on the way home?”
“Pleeeease? I’m really hungry!”
“Stop it! We’re meeting your father for dinner. You know that.”
“Can’t we just stop and get a snack at a gas station or something?”
“Why are you so mean?”
“Shut up, you little monster. Dammit!”
Just like that she had run a red light. It had turned red about a split second before she drove over the crosswalk, so she hadn’t put them in any serious danger. Listening to the little monster had just completely set her off, and she wasn’t paying attention to the road. Why couldn’t he just keep his little mouth shut?
He hadn’t been part of the original package deal. Tracy had found the man of her dreams—or at least she had thought that was the case in the beginning. They had met in a bar early one February evening, and he had swept her off her feet with his deep voice and expensive suit. Three months later they were married, and four months after that Tracy was wishing they weren’t.
She gripped the wheel tighter and thumped down on the gas, half out of anger and half out of disgust at the possibility of being late. Whatever this dinner was for—it wasn’t often that she really paid attention to the details—it was very important to him. In the beginning, details mattered to her; and she felt important in his eyes. Nowadays she realized that his main attraction to her had been her looks—her “trophy wife” appeal. Oh, he lavished gifts on her; and she had more than she had ever dreamed of as a poor country hick.
The loneliness devoured that cavernous house that he had bought, though. That stupid house had been decorated by someone hired, because Tracy was too stupid to know how to decorate more than a four-foot-by-six-foot bathroom. It wasn’t hers, and she was constantly alone in it. Her new dream husband was never home with her. Tracy didn’t really think he was cheating; but his sales meetings dragged him all over the world. That left her at home with a big dumb car and a big dumb wallet. They were right, what they said, whoever they were: money doesn’t buy happiness. In Tracy’s case, all it had bought her was loneliness.
This huge, ambling Yukon she was maneuvering down small suburban streets at unreasonable speeds was more than she needed as well. Why couldn’t he have bought her something small? She wasn’t about to argue with him about anything. In fact, most of the time they spent together she just didn’t say anything at all; and that seemed to suit him just fine. Tracy was sure he had just been thinking “family” and found the biggest thing he could at his buddy’s GMC dealership. Not a Lexus, not a Mercedes, but a GMC. She loved him, she guessed; but sometimes the things he did just didn’t make sense.
Luther in the back seat was a perfect example. This little monster that was sitting six feet behind her, way out of arm’s reach, was not something she wanted. Tracy didn’t want kids. She hadn’t wanted kids.But here the little monster was, the result of a custody battle, the bottom line of a tale where his father had way more money than his mother. More money meant better lawyers, and Luther ended up in their cavernous house. Most of the time the stepson and the stepmother were able to just avoid each other. There was certainly plenty of room for that. He would play his damned loud video games, and she would ready a book on her iPad with headphones buried in her ears while she reclined in a padded chair on the flagstone patio in front of a salt water pool that she used for gazing but never swimming.
Occasionally, though, their paths would have to cross. Today the crossing was caused by a soccer game. Tracy never actually sat by the edge of the field in a folding chair or on the bleachers in the hot sun. She would just park her cumbersome hoopty-mobile in the parking lot among the minivans and other SUVs. There she’d sit behind the dark-tinted windows, reading a book on her iPad, waiting for her stepson to finish playing his game and seek out the Yukon. He’d get in, and they’d drive off. As soon as they got to the house, that would be the end of their encounter for the day. They’d part ways to opposite ends of the cavernous house.
Hungry, though… for crying out loud. He never stopped eating. She just kept speeding and hoped he wouldn’t open his mouth again.
“Come on, please?”
He was going for that approach: pity.
“I don’t know why you’re so mean!”
“Give me your game. GIVE it to me!” Tracy shouted, reaching her arm around as far backwards as she could, waving her wrist and fingers a few feet away from his face. Luther was sitting directly behind her. He let out a sound, something between an “aawwwww” and a moan, and he handed the flipped-open Nintendo to her. She snapped its hinge shut hard as soon as she felt it between her fingers, and then she tossed it on the passenger’s seat beside her. “You can have that when we get to the restaurant… maybe. Let’s see how you act.” Her right shoulder was hurting now, something pulled the wrong way in it during her contortionist act a few moments ago. The pain made her fume inside her head.
Tracy turned most of her attention back to the road, and she was rolling her eyes. When she did, she caught flashing lights in her rear-view mirror.
This was not happening. This really was not happening.
Was it her they were after? She edged her car into the next lane on the right, slowing down by about ten miles per hour while she did so, willing the police car to fly right past her. After a second or two she instead saw the police car pull in behind her. This was just great.