Rebecca: A Short Story Part 2
Posted February 13, 2021 by Prairie Wife -
This is a continuation (at the request of our readers) of a short story I wrote in December called “Rebecca”.
Rebecca took the sharp turn onto the dirt road, and as she and Casey bounced towards the small white home barely visible ahead, she began to mentally prepare herself for what was coming.
She took deep breathes while keeping a small smile on her face and tried to nod at all the right times as Casey chit-chatted about the new series of graphic novels that were her current obsession.
She made a mental note to try and remember this little detail when it came time for Christmas in a few weeks, though how she could purchase a gift and mail it to her was going to be a problem.
Suddenly they were there.
At the house where she had grown up.
She could see the wooden swing set her father had built for her and her brother Randy and she was reminded of the Summertimes spent practically living outside.
Playing in the tower for hours.
Imagining robbers and bandits sneaking across the Wyoming prairie trying to scale the walls of “Fort Laramie”.
It was up to them, always the heroes of the story, to protect those that had survived the last attack.
They had spent hours collecting rocks picked out from the parched hard ground to store in the tower to hurl at the creeping bad guys. She recalled when one badly thrown rock had bounced off her dad’s beloved truck and left a massive dent.
Her dad had been out feeding the horses and heard the hollow metallic sound as the rock hit.
Randy and she had crouched behind the railing of the tower, not daring to breathe as he charged up to the truck, took in the situation, and began to work his way towards them.
He had firmly instructed them that they were to throw rocks away from the house from then on. And forced them to get out of the tower immediately and help with chores to make up for the money he would need to fix the dent.
As far as she could remember he hadn’t even raised his voice.
Her childhood had been idyllic, the stuff of dreams really.
She had no excuse for her distaste for her home.
No reason why she hated the town where she grew up.
There was no real explanation for the anger and rage that bubbled up when she took in the full view of the barns and outbuildings and the white one-story perfectly quaint house of her youth.
Yet there she was, sitting in the car, hands clenched around the steering wheel so tightly that they were white, trying her hardest to simply remember to breathe in and out.
She realized Casey had stopped talking and was now staring at her, one hand clutched the door handle, the other was frozen in the process of unbuckling her seatbelt.
Rebecca blinked and then snapped out “What?” and instantly regretted her reaction.
Casey’s eyes lost their sparkle, her jaw clenched as she physically moved as far away from her as she could while still sitting right next to her.
“I just wanted to know if you were going to come inside like you promised. Grandma wants to see you.”
“Yes. I said I would, so I will. But I have to get out of town, so I won’t be staying long.”
Casey quietly stared at her and nodded, suddenly looking way older than her 13 years. She finished unbuckling and left the car. She quietly shut the car door and quickly walked towards the deep blue front door without looking back.
Rebecca shivered. She was sure that it was from the frigid Winter air that had entered the car as Casey left, but the sick feeling in her gut told her that it likely had just as much to do with her coming down off the last of the previous evening’s drugs.
That meant she had about 30 minutes before the splitting headache and dry heaves started.
She took one more deep breath, pulled the keys out of the ignition, and left her car.
As she cut across the yard to get to the door her silver high-heeled boots left prints in the frosty grass. Broken brittle blades of brown that softly crunched and announced her approach. Her breath steamed in front of her, as she stood in front of the blue door wondering if she should knock or just walk in.
She was saved from making the choice by her mother opening the door.
As the door opened a wave of warm air and the familiar scents of a wood fire and the slight lingering smell of last nights’ dinner hit her square in the face.
Her stomach rolled and her heartbeat accelerated as she clenched her jaw and offered her mother a tight smile as she brushed past her.
She walked into the living room, took her coat off, and laid it on the corner of the faded brown couch where she recalled spending hours of her teenage years watching MTV…when they actually played music videos.
Rebecca sat down and used all of her self-control to stay sitting up primly (like the lady she was) rather than curling up into the dent that was still there from her childhood.
She was suddenly exhausted and wanted nothing more than to have her mother cover her with a blanket and brush a soft kiss on her temple as she drifted off.
She blinked and looked up at her mother who was standing just a few feet away, looking at her with wary eyes but a soft smile on her lips.
“It’s good to see you.”
Rebecca resisted rolling her eyes at her mother’s comment. Which was surely a dig at the fact that she hadn’t made it up here in almost 6 months.
“Well, you know I’ve been in transition, and when I’m trying to make a better life for myself, I can’t just take off and come up to see you whenever you want.” Rebecca cringed inwardly.
Was this going to be a time when her mother tried “tough love” and called her on her bullshit, or was she going to play nice?
Her mom nodded and quietly stepped back to sit down in the overstuffed recliner across from her.
Her mother was wearing a soft multi-colored sweater over a turtleneck and loosely cut jeans. Her slippers were new, or at least not a pair she recognized, and she could see a peek of her dad’s old woolen hunting socks when her mom sat down. Her hair was in the same non-descript blond/gray shoulder-length cut that it had been for over a decade.
As the morning sun shone through the front windows it spread a golden glow across her mother’s face and onto a row of family pictures hanging on the wall.
Rebecca took in a sharp breath as she stared at her mother and then the pictures.
She flashed back to her moments this morning, spent getting ready in the car, and realized that she was looking more like her mother’s sister…than her daughter.
Her mother’s skin had aged for sure, but it still had a dewy glow to it and if she was being honest her mother may have fewer wrinkles around her mouth and eyes than she did.
It was seeing the last picture of them together as a family, blown up embarrassingly large and framed on the wall that had forced her to see this harsh truth.
It was from 6 years ago, right before her dad had died and when Rebecca had been living a bit more stable.
She had still been drinking (she hadn’t stopped that habit since she started when she was 19) and having an occasional party weekend here and there, but it had been that lovely time when she and Keith had been together and Casey had still been with her.
In the picture, she and Randy are standing next to each other, smiling brightly with his two boys and Casey in front of them.
Her mom and dad stood one on each side of the group, her dad next to her, her mom by Randy.
Randy’s wife Jeanie was softly tucked under his arm that wasn’t around the boys.
She looked good, and it was a startling realization to see how much she had aged and changed over the last 6 years, and it added insult to injury to realize that while she now looked twice as old as she had then…her mother had barely changed at all.
Rebecca quickly took her eyes off the picture as Casey walked into the room and sat on the arm of the recliner next to her mother.
Shouldn’t Casey be sitting next to her on the couch?
After all, SHE had been gone for 6 months.
Wasn’t she the one who had driven hours just to have breakfast with her daughter?
Rebecca took a deep breath as the soft voice in the back of her head whispered for her to calm down and get this misery over with as soon as possible.
She forced a smile on her face. “Speaking of transitions I have some good news for you. I’ve decided I’m done with Colorado and I’m going to back to Wyoming.” Her mother stiffened and she could see her running through all the possible reasons why Rebecca didn’t want to stay in Colorado.
Rebecca knew that her mother was actually probably correct with any and all of her guesses.
Running from unpaid bills and obligations to drug dealers (check), no one left that would let her crash on their couch (check), a pathetically small group of men that she could use her powers of persuasion to take advantage of (check), one too many late night and early morning interactions with the police (check and check).
Her mother slowly inclined her head and opened her mouth to reply, but Rebecca quickly drew a breath and kept on talking. She tried to keep her tone from sounding whiney and frantic and focused on keeping her voice firm and self-assured.
“I don’t need your help if that’s what you were going to ask. And no mother I’m not picking this tiny town to live in. I’m going to Casper. I have a good job lined up there, a place to stay, and it’s a place in Wyoming that actually has more than a four-way stop sign.”
Casey sat up and looked at her with hope. “Does that mean you’ll come to see us more? I had a good time at breakfast mom, and there will be a Spring concert that I think I might have a solo for!”
The air in the room seemed to quiver with tension as all three of them stared at each other.
“Yeah well, you know I have to get settled in, but yeah. Yeah, I can come by more. If you want.” Rebecca finished the last part lamely, with a shrug of her shoulders.
She hoped she sounded casual and uncaring.
But, the truth was, she wanted reassurance that her daughter still wanted her.
That Casey still loved her after all that had happened.
And she hated that weakness, that aching need for love that she could never seem to escape.
Her mother placed her hand on Casey’s leg as she looked Rebecca in the eye.
“You are always wanted and loved. That has always been our feelings and always will be.”
Rebecca stiffened and waited for the “but” followed by a string of rules about her visits and expectations about her behavior when she came.
But none came.
She looked at her mother, puzzled at first, and then relived that she had gotten off the hook so easily this time.
She wasn’t sure what the hell was going on, normally she and her mother were like a couple of dogs.
Circling each other and alternating between tail wagging and snapping at unexpected moments.
She sighed and looked down at her hands clutched in her lap. She rubbed at the phone number scrawled across the top until it faded to a light gray and decided suddenly that if her mom could be kind, so could she.
“Yeah, mom I know. I’m trying okay.” She glanced up from her lap and looked her in the eye. “I know you are too.” She caught herself as she felt her voice waver and went on quickly before she thought too much about it. “I’m thankful Casey is here. I know it’s better for her, for me.”
And then she stood up, grabbed her coat, rushed over to them, enveloped them in a hug, and ran out the door before she ruined it all.
Like she always did.
She slipped in her high heeled silver boots as she ran to the car and ignored the way the abrupt move of righting her body so she didn’t fall made her head begin to pound.
Rebecca fumbled as she dug the keys out of the cup holder and jammed them into the ignition. The car started right away and the warm air blew on her face, forcing the tears that had been streaming down her cheeks into her hair.
She hadn’t even been in the house long enough for the damn engine to cool down, and yet here she was shaking and blubbering like a God damn idiot because of a simple statement of love and affection from her mother.
What the hell was wrong with her.
She turned the car around and accelerated as fast as she dared down the dirt road.
A spray of frosty rocks and a cloud of exhaust streamed out behind her as she left.
She didn’t bother looking in the mirror.
She knew her mother and Casey would be standing at the door watching her leave.
After all, don’t you know?
People are always watching.
Categories: Life As It Happens