By Leslie Lindsay
I am feeling a bit nutty these days as my novel is nearing a turning point: the end. My female protagonist may be losing a little bit as well. Remember, this is original work from a novel-in-progress…please do not take as your own.
And here we go… some old stuff I dusted off for Slippery Slope:
“I breathed in the crisp fall air. The leaves falling gently in golden hues as the sun sparkled in dainty brightness. I parked the van, got out, and slammed the door with a thump. Stupid minivan. When could I get a real car again? I walked into the waiting room. The space smelled like paper and vanilla, the Muzak pumped out classical tunes from the sound system. A white noise machine sat tucked in the corner, camouflaged by a plant. I slid the glass divider window, revealing a pinched-faced receptionist.
“Insurance card.” It’s not a question, but a demand. Her bony hand reaches forward and snaps the card from my grip. She turns to make a copy and flips open a Day planner. “Have a seat.” She nods towards the blue seats lined up against the wall. Blue, it figures; the most calming color in the world.
Jackie calls my name, standing in front of the barely opened self-locking door, “for privacy,” she’s told me before. I didn’t buy it then, I still don’t. More like: to keep the crazies out; people like you.
She ushers me into her office. I plop down on the worn, overstuffed sofa and cross my legs.
“What’s going on? How’ve you been?”
One question at a time for my delicate brain, Jackie. ‘What’s going on?’ is a completely different inquiry than ‘how are you?’
And so I begin.
“Well, Madi and Kenna were growing and learning by the day—the hour—and I am generating decorating jobs left and right.”
She nods, taking this all down in her electronic tablet. “And what grade are the girls in now?”
“Well, Kenna is in full-day kindergarten and doing fairly well there, with the exception of a few ‘mean girl’ instances, which I can’t really understand. It’s kindergarten for cryin’ out loud!” I pause, re-crossing my legs. “Turns out there’s a lot to be ‘mean’ about these days—iPods and cell phones are slowly making their presence in the under-ten market, something I am completely against. There are clothes and shoes and Pottery Barn backpacks,” I rattle off.
I continue. “And the usual—‘you’re picture isn’t as pretty as mine,’ arguments, along with lunch room and recess etiquette.”
Jackie inhales and leans to the other arm rest on her chair, the captain’s seat of therapy. “And how do you feel about all of this?”
“Fine. Good. I took her shopping over the summer and loaded her up with school supplies and cute shoes and clothes, proud to send my “baby” to kindergarten.”
“So you are proud?” She tucks her hair behind her ear, a sleek brown bob.
“And your other daughter?”
I swallow, “Madi is loving her preschool program. She had grown into quite the precocious three-year old, already “reading,” books by memorization and being extremely in tune to other’s feelings and emotions. Including mine.”
“Oh?” she knits her eyebrows, leans in, “What do you mean?”
“Well, one day Madi says, ‘Mommy, you seem sad’,” I furrowed my brows and gotten down to her level, ‘What do you mean, Madi Moo?’ I asked.”
She touched my hand, ‘You know, momma. Sad.’
I bit the inside of my cheek, ‘Well, I am not sad. I am just busy. There’s a difference.’
She shook her head, ‘No, you’re sad.’
‘Punkin, I promise you, I am not sad.’ It went on like this for awhile. Madi trying to tell me I was sad, me telling her I was just busy with work and a little preoccupied, all while trying to tell her that I wasn’t sad about her, heaven forbid.
“So are you sad, Annie?”
“No. I am not sad. But to a 3-year old, I could see how she might think I was sad. I’ve been working awfully hard at getting my decorating business up and going. I am still trying to be the perfect wife, mother, and homemaker, and there are days I am just tired. Worn out. Deflated.”
Jackie nods her head, “I can appreciate that.” She scribbles something on her electronic doo-dad.
I continue, “Joe is working non-stop. His company recently merged with a larger, more prestigious company—the stakes are higher, the projects and clients more important. I feel alone most of the time, often joking that we we’re two ships passing in the night; feeling like a single parent even though we’ve been married almost seven years now.”
“Perhaps Madi’s assessment isn’t so far ‘off,’ then?” A smirk crawls across her face, pleased.
“No. I don’t know—maybe. But she’s three.”
Jackie shifts in her captain’s chair, throws her left leg over her right, brown suede boots. I can’t help but like them. Fuck-me boots. “Sometimes kids can be very preceptive.”