Disconnect

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Gay and Lesbian  |  House: Booksiesilk Classic Group

Featured Review on this writing by DampKitten

A once beautiful woman tries to reconcile her past as she remembers the passion of her lost lover.

 

 DISCONNECT

 

Anita Witt spun the truck's steering wheel, rounding the building’s corner, skidding to a stop. She climbed the loading dock steps, then turned her face to the rising sun, murmuring a supplication in its radiance, asking forgiveness for Joe and grace for Lucretia's soul. 

Hurrying, she keyed open the loading dock door, stepped into the hall, then headed to her office. She hung up her parka, then changed from boots to shoes. She tissued away a winter tear and took a makeup kit and a mirror from her desk. Gazing into the mirror, she searched only vainly for her elegant lines, the oceanic depth of her eyes, the shifting poetry of her expressions, the storms of her passion, and the rapture of her fertility.

My youth is gone; I announced my retirement six months ago. This Friday coming is my final day on the job. I've always dreamed of having a retirement party, crepe paper, and balloons. People wish me good luck. 

She pulled a mascara brush out of its tube, touched up her lashes, then went to the kitchen, where she threw on the light switches. The sodium banks flickered. She walked the brick tiles, powering the appliances: mixers and warming ovens, steam tables, and a soup cauldron.

A delivery truck backed up to the loading dock. The driver threw up the rolling tailgate, then hauled premade lunches into the kitchen. He called Anita's name.

"I'm in the stockroom, taking inventory."
"How's my favorite redhead?" he asked, peering around the stockroom door.
"I'm ok, Childs. How are you?"
"Well, you know, they changed my route again. I wish my bosses would make up their minds for once."
"Heh, I wouldn't hold my breath. How's your wife?"
"She hasn't left me yet."
"Would you give her my best? She’s such a gentle soul."
"You have my promise," Childs said.

A moment passed.

"Is there something wrong, Anita?"

“It’s that bad, huh? I guess it shows. I'm scared about Pups. She’s sick.  I have an appointment for her with the veterinarian. I don’t know what I’ll tell Joe if it's bad news. He doesn’t understand things. He doesn't know why he's in prison, and they gave him thirty years. Oh well, oh well." Her hands trembled.

"Jesus, Anita, I'm sorry."
"I shouldn't bother you. You've got your routes to finish."
"Hell, the deliveries can wait a few minutes. Let me help you put up some of this stock."
"You'd keep me company for a minute?  Just a little bit is all. That would be nice."

 The part-time kitchen employees arrived. They hung up their coats and punched their timecards.

Anita walked into the cafeteria and looked through the windows. School buses pulled up in a big circle. Children disembarked, breathing frosty clouds while filing steadily into the main entrance. Sparkling sheets of ice covered the courtyard's surfaces. She flinched, seeing Mack, the head custodian, lose his footing and fall on a wheelchair ramp.

She headed back to her office, grabbed the inventory sheets, then started down a locker-lined hallway to the school's main office.

Sissy, the school's receptionist, sat at her desk. "I almost broke my ass this morning," she said.

"It's bad out there."

"Bad? That's good. Mack's got no ice melt because he used up his budget on a fancy floor burnisher. That's what's bad. We can all thank Mack if somebody gets hurt."

"I don't think about blame, Sissy. It's disheartening."

As Anita left the office, she felt Sissy's eyes following her. YesI'm old. Have a good look. But I was young once and beautiful.

  •  

Anita was born in the Michigan farmhouse that her grandparents built. She had had her bedroom upstairs with a north-facing window she opened for the fragrance of conifers and the chill of snowflakes. For a half-mile from the sill, she could see first across the family's pumpkin field, then past the run-down cemetery where her father lay buried—a shipyard accident. Frost heave had tumbled his headstone. Anita dreamed of the day she'd transform the settling grave into a stately mausoleum with marble columns, gravel pathways, and strong iron fences. Beyond her father's resting place lay a vast temperate forest.

She'd had no siblings. Anita and her mother, Trish, shouldered the weight of their farm alone.

 In winter, they repaired the farm's equipment. In early spring, they disk-plowed the forty-acre field. Afterward, they switched from plow to cultipacker and made the seedbed. Next, they calibrated the seed drill for planting depth and seed type. Trish backed an International Farmall to the drill while Anita signaled directions. With the hitch in place, Anita dropped the pins, and Trish hooked up the hydraulics. Finally, they cleared irrigation ditches and culverts so that, as the headgate opened, water could flow to the flood pipes. Fall was the pumpkin harvest, and then they prepared the field for winter rye. They maintained a bee aviary for pollination and the extra income it provided. 

Trish was an instinctive woman; austere and exacting, her self-possession guided her excellent posture, steady and straight. She home-schooled her daughter and assigned her farm duties, often asking Anita to repeat her instructions for clarity. But Trish had more than a simple reserve. The community regarded her highly as a sensible woman with a lighthearted laugh that invited others to join her high spirits. Trish gave the best of herself to her daughter, though. She loved Anita dearly and sympathetically. She also understood her daughter's need for something more than a mother's companionship.

In the summer of Anita's thirteenth year, Trish set up a honey booth at a nearby farmer's market and, throughout that summer, became acquainted with a couple nationally recognized for excellence in horse breeding. Alex and Elaine Wellington's estate lay just two miles south of Trish's property. The couple became regular shoppers at Trish's booth, often lingering for small talk. On one occasion, Elaine Wellington wrote her phone number on a sheet of paper. She handed it to Trish, saying, "I know an introspective woman when I meet one. Won't you call sometime?"

"We've got a daughter, too," Alex said. "Her name is Lucretia. She's got moxie."

"Moxie indeed, how delightful," Trish answered, smiling charitably. "I've heard it said that dull children never quite recover from the condition. What age is she?"

"Just close in age to your daughter,” Elaine said with a wink.

"Oh, that's delightful!"

"Yes, I can't see why we shouldn't make an afternoon of it sometime. Lucretia is back from Connecticut in August. She's visiting relatives. Oh, but do call me sooner. I love to chat."

Trish was up for the idea, and when she did call, she found Elaine to be forthcoming, expressive, and willing to share her story. Lucretia's conception had been a miracle of sorts—a redemption. Infertility and nervous disorders had challenged Elaine's sense of worth, but no more. Lucretia was her love song. Elaine happily described Alex's reaction to her pregnancy, saying, "Well, he jumped from his seat and gave me a vigorous slap on the back. Gracious, but that gave me a start. It started me coughing as well. 'A job well done! That's fair enough, by Jove!"

"By Jove?" Trish laughed.

"Why yes, he invoked Jove! Are you acquainted with Jove? Well, I'm certain I've never met the man! At any rate, Alex hardly spoke before Lucretia's birth. He's very expansive these days. I'm sure it's got little to do with me—cultured pearl that I am. Everything's happiness and generosity." 

Trish sensed a cloud, something ironic in all of Elaine's buoyancy, peculiarities in her manner. This was especially the case when Elaine spoke of Lucretia at length. Something hidden. Something anguished. But then she'd chastise herself for being overimaginative. Elaine's just concerned for her child's wellbeing, nothing more. But the question remained in her mind.

August arrived, and Elaine called, asking Trish if she fancied refreshments. Lucretia was back from Connecticut. Would Anita come, too? Trish was steering their truck down the Wellingtons' quarter-mile driveway within the hour. Anita gazed hopefully through a sultry haze as they sailed along. 

"Oh, my, Appaloosas!" exclaimed Trish, slowing the truck to stop at a corral. A young lady stood inside the fences. Her hair shone in the light, falling about her waist in black tresses as she groomed a magnificent animal. She wore a gaucho jacket and riding boots. She'd clipped a small, beaded purse to her belt. Anita piled out of the truck and climbed the corral gate.

"Hello," Anita called out. "We've come to visit. Are you Lucretia?"

Lucretia tossed her hair over a shoulder, then turned toward Anita with a tremulous smile, emerald eyes flashing vividly under an aquiline brow. A tinge of rose bloomed in the porcelain symmetry of her features. "I am she."

Anita blushed and glanced at Trish.

Heavens, but her smile is jewelry, thought Trish.

"What does your purse hold?" asked Anita.

"My adornments," said Lucretia.

As their parents had hoped, a friendship between the girls blossomed. Elaine sent fruit baskets and encouragement notes. She invited Trish to social affairs and made introductions. Alex hired a laborer to be at Trish's disposal.

"I really can't accept," Trish said.

"Nonsense, it will bolster your farm's output. Think of the freedom our girls will enjoy."

And the girls used their freedom well, tramping through the forest, riding horses, snowshoeing, and skating. They played board games in front of a fire and had sleepovers. Each kept their dreams in a diary. Each sensed the other's heart and the desires within.

One morning in April, having just shared breakfast in the Wellingtons' kitchen, Anita and Lucretia decided to walk through the forest. While strolling near a spruce stand, Lucretia asked, "Is it nearly a year that we've known one another?"

 "Close to that, I think," Anita replied.

"Do you love me?" asked Lucretia, touching Anita's face with her fingertips and kissing her forehead. "I never doubt that we bring out the best in each other."

"Yes," whispered Anita. "I love you."

"And I feel you with my heart." Lucretia pushed Anita's hair back, leaned forward, and pressed her lips against Anita's ear.

"Oh, Jeez! What are you doing?"

"It's a seduction," breathed Lucretia.

"It's warm."

"Yes, baby, it’s warm,” Lucretia said, darting the inside of Anita’s ear with the tip of her tongue. “It’s warm…it’s warm…it’s warm,” Lucretia continued to breathe. She felt Anita swoon. She slipped a hand under Anita’s chin and pushed he tongue deeper. She felt Anita’s legs tremble. She dropped to her knees in front of Anita, pressed her face to her pubis, and tugged her to the ground.

“I’ve swooned,” panted Anita."

Yes," said Lucretia, "a swoon within the privacy of our forest cathedral. Should I stop?"

“Oh, please, no, hold me more tightly. Let me surrender.”

“Yes,” Lucretia said.

She opened the front of Anita’s jeans and pulled the zipper down.

“Lift your bottom for me, little girl.”

“Oh, God,” Anita said as she arched up and felt her pants slipping down.

Lucretia pulled off Anita’s panties and folded them with Anita’s pants. “Pull your knees to your chest and hold them.”

“Please don’t be vulgar.”

Lucretia didn’t answer, only she had a witch’s tongue and probed the places of Anita’s virginity.

Anita stared into the either, at the branches swaying in the soft breeze, and then she felt her orgasm building. Tears of gratitude flowed from her eyes. She reached for Lucretia’s head, clenching her tresses as she gasped.

Later that same week, Lucretia took Anita by the hand, saying, "Let's get baskets and collect orchids in the forest."

"Yes, but from where?"

 "From a bitter old swamp that lies beyond the quarry—a torment of green algae and incessant croaking. There are fallen cedars, patches of sunlight, and orchids springing from decay. We'll fill our baskets, then follow a stone wall that goes more deeply into the forest than you'd think possible. When the wall comes to a meadow with a fen, it climbs grassy slopes to an outcrop where one can stand and look down to the shores of Lake Michigan. Oh, Anita, how well do you love me? We'll run to the shore and spread our orchids on the shallows when night falls. The northern lights will rise and sanctify our love for eternity."

"You speak strangely sometimes." Anita giggled.

September arrived, and the nights became chilly. Anita sat at Lucretia’s vanity while Lucretia stood behind, braiding Anita’s hair. Their eyes met in the mirror.  Anita reached for one of Lucretia’s hands, then held it to her face in a fit of passion.

“Lucretia put her chin on Anita's shoulder and then whispered, “Always and forever, little girl."

She stood and pulled Anita close. "Listen to my heart.”

“Yes,” Anita said, pressing against her lover, “Let me listen.”

Later that evening, as they lay in each other’s arms, Lucretia suggested they use the coming Saturday to investigate the quarry.

"God, but I loathe that place," said Anita. "Cliffs and caves. Falling rocks and fat tadpoles lazing about in the murk of drowning pools. It's been abandoned for a hundred years."

"The perfect air for a picnic," insisted Lucretia. "Should we set the time for noon?"

"The dregs," complained Anita. "But very well."

"Then it's decided? Oh, to think of all the splendors in the world," gushed Lucretia. "It seems I love a rendezvous just as well as an enchantment!"

They held one another once and finally as Anita dissolved in the desperation of Lucretia's silken embrace.

The Saturday arrived, but circumstances delayed Anita. Trish's wall clock had run down, and Anita wore no wristwatch. She'd spent a whimsical morning daydreaming while her fingers worked a crochet needle. When Trish noticed the clock at a standstill, she applied its winding key and called out to Anita.

"It's past noon. Aren't you meeting Lucretia?"

"Shit!" exclaimed Anita. She scurried about, trying to collect herself. 

Trish stood calmly by the back door, holding a prepared basket that Anita grabbed as she bolted by. Unbelievable, though Trish, shaking her head in good-humored dismay. 

Anita jogged to the forest's edge, then disappeared beneath the canopy, continuing hurriedly with mottled light splashing about her feet. The air was sweet. Birds sang. She smiled with anticipation, and her heart swelled at the thought of Lucretia's embrace. She pushed a branch away from her face, sidestepped a familiar obstacle, then leaped over a stone wall. But as she landed, her heart froze, and trepidation sharpened her senses to a keen edge. She cast an alarmed glance backward. Setting the basket down, she stood fast in the throes of her intuition, straining her ears, and wiping her palms on her jeans. She called out for Lucretia and waited. She clenched her fists in front of her face and called at the top of her lungs. Wide-eyed, she scanned the foliage. The wind pushed through the canopy, and a deadwood branch came crashing to the ground. She started forward, stumbling over the basket.

"Lucretia!"

Shrieking crows answered, and her fear boiled over.

"Lucretia!!" she screamed, stumbling down the darkening path. She reached the quarry, but just as quickly, she felt the presence of a warning angel. She dropped to her knees with her chest heaving and a terrible ache in her throat. She dredged enough courage to stand and follow a narrow slope to the quarry's entrance. She rounded a large boulder, then shrank back in horror, staggering sideways with shocked pupils, covering her mouth with her hands. The forest wept.

Lucretia lay silently on the ground, her skirt torn aside and her tresses strewn above her head. Anita scrambled forward, heedless of her preservation, then dropped to Lucretia's side. She let out a sob, gazing into the emerald ruins of her lady's eyes, the tears of Lucretia's agony still wetting the bruises on her throat. Within this proximity lay Lucretia's purse. Scattered were her adornments: the trinkets and pieces of a broken charm bracelet. Anita reached out, confusedly arranging Lucretia's clothing to a position of modesty, then leaped suddenly to her feet, flying away from mutterings in nearby undergrowth.

A pack of hounds led police to a cave where an escaped lunatic had concealed himself. A single shotgun blast destroyed him. Lucretia's funeral took place two days later.

Fog haunted the morning. A priest chose from Ecclesiastes and began Lucretia's rite of commitment. At the same time, Anita stood unsteadily at the gravesite, squeezing Trish's hand, and staring morosely, first at the priest's face and then past the coffin to Lucretia's parents: to Alex, undone by his loss, to Elaine, her anguish the herald of her coming madness. 

Suddenly Elaine erupted. "Fuck you all that sponged away my daughter's life!" she ranted. Alex wrapped her in his arms. Others quickly came to her aid. She convulsed brutally, wailing, "No, not my little girl!" 

Anita grabbed Trish's arm. "I can't breathe," Anita gasped. "Don't let me see this!" And then Anita cast her gaze skyward, searching for the sun, a smoldering marble in an edgeless expanse, irretrievably gone, indifferent to the desperation of her soul. In the endless halls of her bereavement, Anita scorned God. She thought no more of stately mausoleums; Lucretia was gone to the rye and would only return in the split seams of Anita's subconscious.

Anita revisits the quarry in her bad dreams, treading on limestone slabs that sink beneath her feet while the sides of a valley rise, glistening with groundwater and the light of a sailing moon. The walls crash silently, now a shale field with a hillside of shifting scree in the offing. Lucretia's bones percolate through the shale and lie before her. Anita turns to run but freezes as Lucretia materializes, reaching through the rye with a caress. "I never doubt that we bring out the best in each other."

Elaine Wellington was institutionalized a month later. The sanitarium's psychiatrists described her condition as unspecified catatonia. Alex, the victim of misfortune's vilest storm, existed in the past moments of a kinder life. In time, due to the strength of his character, he rose to the surface.

Anita's sophistication did not discern the treacheries of her broken heart. Nor could she master the tundra of her indifference and aggressive gloom.

The next several years witnessed Trish's struggle to keep the farm afloat. She worked as hard as her body would allow, but the farm chipped away at her energies, and then a blight of root rot brought her to the brink. She'd spent her health, and she sensed the end coming. The farm would be too much for Anita, so Trish reached out to Alex Wellington and received the assurances she had hoped for. Should the need arise, Alex would become the farm's guardian. A heart attack claimed Trish's life just four months later.

Alex stepped forward to formulate the farm's future, true to his word. Anita was unreceptive, telling him flatly that she only wanted the farm's end. Alex understood her well enough. With the court's permission and Anita's blessing, Alex sold off the farm, then quietly handed Anita a sum of money far greater than the farm's sale had garnered. She did not question nor understand the windfall.

Heedless of Alex Wellington's advice, Anita took a room in nearby Traverse City. She found work in a mercantile store, but her beauty and effusive manner made her the object of unwanted attention. It drew cattiness from the other working girls. A slope-shouldered manager fired her. Anita let drop that he and other of the store's employees were a lot of hypocrites.

After the mercantile store, she found work tearing tickets in a movie house. For a short while, she did not exist outside the screen and its flickering dramas. 

A giant of a longshoreman came to the movie house one day. He seduced Anita with blandishments, brought her to a stylish restaurant, and then had his way with her. He shipped out the following morning. Pregnant with Joe and her naivete, Anita tore tickets for three months while awaiting the longshoreman's return.

Alex Wellington was not surprised when, upon answering his bell, he discovered Anita standing on his stoop.

"Can you help me?" she asked emotionally.

"Please come in. Whatever it is, I'm sure there's a solution."

Alex Wellington oversaw her shelter and health care for several. But both understood the reality of her circumstances, though. After a lengthy discussion concerning her future, Anita traveled to a maternity home in Colorado. She gave birth to Joe five months later. She decided to stay in Colorado and then found employment in a cafeteria, utilizing the skills she'd learned during her time in the maternity home. 

Twenty-seven years went by, during which she kept fondly in touch with Alex. Then his phone went dead. Anita learned that Alex's sister, Kimber the shrew, had placed Alex in assisted living in Connecticut. Anita called Kimber, but the shrew then told Anita to reach no more.

  •  

A shrill ring jarred Anita from her reverie. A systems test, but how long was I standing here? She glanced self-consciously around the cafeteria, then keyed herself through the service entry, walking the service line and chatting with her helpers while inspecting the steam table. All seemed in order: lasagna, chicken nuggets, hamburgers, mashed potatoes, and a choice of vegetables. She went to the tray return and powered up the dishwasher. The machine came up to temperature, and she gave it a run, throwing up the door and pulling the strainer as it completed its cycle. Alkaline steam billowed out and floated rapidly to the ceiling. With five minutes until A-lunch, she rolled a drink cart from the walk-in and then took up her station on the service line. As Mack finished setting the lunch tables, Anita signaled the cashier to open the service doors. The bell rang, lockers clattered, and students angled into the cafeteria. Two more lunches followed the pattern. Anita's spent the rest of her workday calling in orders and overseeing the cleanup.

Pups had a 4:30 p.m. appointment with the veterinarian, so Anita left work an hour early. She went down the loading dock stairs and started her truck before brushing snow from the windows. She left the parking lot and, reaching the interstate; she merged into faster traffic. Sun glare from the opposite lane caused her to narrow her eyes as she sped along the freeway and thought about Joe.

A month had passed since she'd visited him at Canyon State Penitentiary since she'd suffered the humiliation of being patted down and then escorted to a visiting room. She'd sat on a plastic chair at a grey metal table, her fingers interlocked, the edges of her hands on the worn surface. Anxiety had checked her movements, caused discomfort, and kept her from looking about the room at the other convicts and their visitors. Moisture collected between her breasts and around her waistline. A thin leather belt cinched material too tightly to her skin. An electronic click cut through the hushed voices, and a door opened. Two guards stepped through, and then came Joe, lowering his head to clear the doorframe. He wore heavy leg shackles. A third guard flanked him. He was Big Joe to the men who'd witnessed him lift a five-hundred-pound anvil from the back of a flatbed and carry it into a blacksmith's shop. Anita searched his face. Joe had his father’s face without the complexity, a simple face made overly simple by the ravages of illness. 

The doctors called it rheumatic fever, bad enough to affect Joe's brain. Maybe. But the fever left nothing to chance. Joe had been a healthy boy until he went to bed sick. Three days later, he was a halfwit. As an adult, he'd been able to work repetitive jobs, but he lacked common sense. Grifters found him an easy mark, and Anita had been forced to position herself between Joe and the world. She'd done what she could, but she couldn't change Joe's fate. His eyes betrayed what Anita's heart already predicted: the effects of a cage on the ponderous industry of Joe's mind. 

He sat opposite Anita at the table. His eyes followed her hand as she reached out and rested it on one of his.

"They let me put money in your commissary account, Joe. Pups sends her love. Are you still working in the laundry?"

He made no response. They'd keep him forever; he was too scary for anything else. They sat silently as half an hour ticked by, and then one of the guards touched Joe's shoulder, saying, "It's time to go, Son. He pulled his hand away, and Anita understood. He'd disconnected.

  •  

They'd taken Joe away on the day before Christmas. She'd sent him out to purchase a Christmas tree saying,

"Ask them for white pine, Joe. A white pine."

She'd handed him cash. She started wrapping gifts as soon as he'd left. She put bows on them all and brought decorations from the basement. She hung a stocking for each of them on the fireplace mantel and then sat at the kitchen table awaiting Joe's return. Joe came through the front door carrying a small dog, "I've named it Pups," he said, grinning strangely. His watch cap was missing. She asked him where he'd found the animal. Joe described a cornfield, saying Pups came from the sky. Where was the tree she'd sent him for? The police arrived an hour later and took Joe into custody. He'd killed a man. Eric Sutherland later testified at Joe's trial.

  •  

 "That's right," said Sutherland. "Mr. Witt came to our lot looking for a tree."

"Joseph Witt, the defendant?" asked the prosecutor.

"Yes, Joe Witt. He wanted a white pine. I told him we didn't have that species. I picked out a good tree and offered it to him at a discount. He said no. He didn't want it because it didn't look like white pine. He didn't grasp that we had no white pines on the lot. He kept saying, white pine, like his brain was locked in that single orbit. There was no getting him off it. And then he tried stuffing bills into one of my jacket pockets. It was scary because he was powerful, and I could see he was simple. I didn't want to anger him, so I stood there, but he tore the pocket, and I told him to stop. That's when his expression changed. It was baleful, and that spooked the hell out of me. I called out to the trailer for Sonny. I wanted Mr. Witt to know I wasn't alone, that's all. Sonny came out of the trailer carrying an ax handle. I swear to Christ; he thought he was John Wayne or something. Excuse my language. I told him, 'Put that thing away, for fuck's sake.' But Sonny, like the asshole that he was, walked straight up to Mr. Witt and started waving that ax handle around. I was like, 'Knock it off, Sonny; he's simple.' He snapped his fingers in Mr. Witt's face, saying, "I don't give a shit how big you are, dummy." I'll tell you now; those were Sonny's last words. Mr. Witt took the ax handle away from Sonny and assaulted him with it. It's hard to describe what that single blow did. It pulverized Sonny's neck. I mean, he was nearly decapitated. I ran for the trailer, thinking I'd be next to get it, but Mr. Witt took off across the street and ran into Pickard's cornfield. That's about everything I remember. I called an ambulance and the cops."

  •  

 Anita took an offramp and then weaved through the side streets to her house. Pups lifted her head and peered over the edge of her basket as Anita came through the door. The dog biscuits sat untouched in the pantry. She knelt next to the basket and rubbed Pups' head.

"We have someplace to be, Pups. Remember I told you this morning?"

Pups yawned and put her head back down.

"You want to be carried? Well, you're not so heavy."

Anita lifted the basket and fit it under one of her arms. She carried Pups to the truck. On her way to the veterinarian, she stopped at a shopping plaza with a pet store. Pups twitched in her basket as Anita searched for a parking space. She cracked a window and got out of the truck, momentarily startled by her reflection as she swung the door shut. Is that what I look like now? An annoying jingle played as she opened the pet shop's entrance. She stopped to admire a topsy-turvy parrot, clawing about a large cage with a slice of apple in its beak. Open barrels of dog biscuits sat at the back of the shop. She went from one barrel to another, determining if the difference in biscuit color meant anything. Every barrel had a similar odor. She decided the colors meant nothing. One barrel had pig ears; she thought she'd be sick. She selected green and maroon biscuits, scooped them into a brown bag, and headed for the checkout. A young girl with beautiful eyes opened the bag and peered inside suspiciously at the counter.

"They're only dog biscuits. Did you think it would be pig ears?" Anita asked.

"Those things are sooooo disgusting," the girl said. "Some of them still have the hair. So gross." She wrinkled her nose and shivered.

"Not what you'd call fragrant either."

"Noooooo," said the girl, laughing hysterically.

Her laughter was the badge of her wellbeing: uncomplicated. A little poison leaked into Anita's veins; her smile weakened. She wanted to cry, but she held herself in check. Don't let it happen. But the girl's beauty, her limpid beauty, the open sky in her face. I am she.

"Can I tell you a secret?" the girl asked, leaning closer to whisper in Anita's ear. "My boss is partial to the orange biscuits. He dips them in his coffee when he thinks nobody sees. That's him standing at the other register."

Anita shot an embarrassed glance in the direction of a smallish man wearing a lab coat.

"That's not nice," Anita smirked.

Anita found Pups sitting up in her basket back in the parking lot. She placed a maroon biscuit in the basket, then paused and thought about the counter girl.

"One more stop, Pups, then it's home."

The receptionist at the animal clinic was pleasant, leading Anita and Pups down a sterile white hall to the examination room. No sooner was the door closed than it reopened. The veterinarian walked in, nodded curtly, and placed Pups on the exam table. Anita sat in a chair as he began the examination. Pups sat very still with her head hanging as if she were studying her front paws.

"She doesn't feel very well," the veterinarian said.

"What does that mean?" Anita asked, distracted.

"I'd like to test Pups for heartworm, Ms. Witt."

Anita stood very quickly, fished a tissue from her purse, then held it nervously to her mouth.

"Heartworm? I don't know what that means,"

"Ms. Witt?"

Anita's eyes darted around the examination room.

"I won't listen to this!" she said, wringing her hands. "Did you know they locked my son up for life?" She cried. "Of course, you don't. Why would you?" 

She tried to reel herself in. It was too late.

"I worked thirty useless years at a job most people wouldn't give two shits about!"

"Ms. Witt, I'm sympathetic toward—"

 "Oh, don't you fucking dare speak to me as if." Her voice shrank to nothing. "As if...as if."

She folded her arms tightly across her body and pulled back defensively. She trembled, then broke apart, weeping piteously, reaching out as if to embrace something unseeable.

 "Why? Oh, God, why? My flower...my precious flower." 

The examination room door opened, and the veterinarian's assistant walked in, frowning.

"Angie," said the veterinarian, "would you please bring Ms. Witt a bottle of water?"

Angie left the room, returning quickly with the water.

"I'm sorry," said Anita, regaining herself. "I can't do this. Please don't let Pups die."

"Oh, Honey, no," said Angie, stepping forward and gently rubbing Anita's back. "Pups isn't going to die."

"Ms. Witt," said the veterinarian uneasily. "I'm prescribing a simple blood test. Nothing more. Even if Pups tests positive, there are treatment options."

"Then you'll help her?" asked Anita, suddenly filled with hope. "Yes, please do that. I don't care about the cost."

 

 

end

 


Submitted: May 22, 2022

© Copyright 2022 Laird. All rights reserved.

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Comments

DampKitten

Laird, the detail and imagery of your writing are exceptional. You're clearly well read and highly educated. This is a very poignant story, and I'm particularly fond of the death scene at the quarry. That is remarkably described with an emphatic literary impact. It would be the pinnacle moment in the piece except that the story honestly seems overly tangential and excessively extended.

I like the idea of manipulating the time element - that is, starting in present time and then folding back into recollection. The lesbian affair between these two young girls is both uplifting and tragic. So beautifully described. The dialogue is magical, though incredibly formal with an almost European flair. It has a Young Lady Chatterley feel to it.

Cutting to the chase, you're trying to cover too much ground for a short. This is a novel in the making, and the outline requires more development. The piece lacks unity and purpose because there's nothing at the ending that brings us back to the beginning. The pace is extremely slow, and the detail, as a result, becomes heavy laden in some locations. We are overwhelmed with literary offshoots. There are too many tragedies to count.

A good short requires laser focus on a particular theme, a steady pace, an intentional direction. You could make five short stories from this one piece by just plucking out the multitude of aspects in the story.

This being an erotica site, my advice is to focus on the relationship between Lucretia and Anita, the emptiness before it, the awakening during it, and the devastation after it. Relate it somehow to something in the present and show us the everlasting impact of those few months together.

Sun, May 22nd, 2022 5:06am

Author
Reply

Dear DampKitten,
You couldn't be more correct. I've forced myself into a corner with this one. Tragedy upon tragedy, and yet again. And worse, I've become precious about leaving it intact. The truth is I'm afraid of breaking it apart and then failing in an attempted succession. From Hamlet: O God, I could be bounded in a nutshell, and count myself a king of infinite space – were it not that I have bad dreams.

Laird

Sat, May 21st, 2022 11:18pm

DampKitten

Ah, Hamlet..
You're out of my league

You have a fan in G-String who has experience doing what you're afraid to attempt. G has spliced and diced several pieces to create remarkably fulfilling results. I think it's all in the process of writing and creating - failure has no part of it.

Sun, May 22nd, 2022 4:00pm

Author
Reply

I have nothing better than to adore g-string, a quirky forest imp, subtle and sensual. But wait, here is DampKitten. Strange to say, my intoxication grows upon me. I am desirous as Ulysses and just as wont to suffer a siren.

Laird

Sun, May 22nd, 2022 9:55am

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