Thursday, February 2, 2017
Better Late Than Never - Short Story
Hello again. This will be the third short story I've written in response to a challenge from Chuck Wendig's Blog at terribleminds.com. I missed a week due to one of my cats being quite sick (undiagnosed diabetes - now being treated). Since Buddy is doing better, I promised myself not to miss another week. The subject of the writing challenge this time was "an act of rebellion." Each week seems to be a bit more challenging that the last, but I am enjoying it thoroughly.
I have to admit, I avoid confrontations when I can, so writing about a rebellion did not come easy. However, I have gotten much better at standing up for myself, my loved ones and my beliefs; when I looked at it that way I had a bit more luck. I hope you enjoy my story.
Better Late Than Never
By Michelle Baillargeon
Molly opened the lid of the trash barrel and looked in. It wasn’t quite half full yet, she could probably get another week out of it. She looked up and down the street at her neighbors’ yards and groaned softly. Everyone else had already brought their barrels out for the garbage truck. Hers would be last, all of the others were lined up like good little soldiers. What would her neighbors think if she didn’t put out her trash, too? There was a small pang in her chest, a touch of anxiety that appeared when she was conflicted about what she wanted to do versus what she was supposed to do.
Molly was raised to be a good girl by loving parents and was proud of it. She grew up minding her parents, believing their truths as her own, doing what she was “supposed” to do. The “supposed to’s” were clear and was what was widely accepted as good girl behavior. She was taught right and wrong, that most issues were black and white and believed these things wholly. This made life easy, her parents had given her a road map to life and she never took any detours. Molly was content in the knowledge that all was right and good with her world.
Molly focused on the the pang for a moment and knew the only way to diffuse it was to obey its bidding. The opinions of her neighbors was on the line after all. She dragged the barrel down her long gravel driveway and left it at the edge to be emptied. The walk was peppered with whispered grumbling and ended with a small kick to the wheel of the offending barrel.
Growing up, she learned to act like a lady, respect her elders, use her manners, and the old standbys like no lying or cheating. Molly learned to meet expectations or risk disappointing others (and thereby, risk their love for her). Her parents expected good grades, they expected chores to be done (without complaining, “everyone has to earn their keep”), and finally they expected her to marry a nice young man some day. The path had been laid out before her, it was clear and simple.
Instead of returning to the house, Molly headed to the porch and sat on the steps. She thought about herself and her life. She was a good person, she “did unto others” and the whole nine yards, she avoided conflicts and tried to be the best wife she could be. She had loved her husband completely, had treated him better than good, kept his house, stood by him. How had it come to this then?
Now that the shock and numbness was wearing off a bit, she could feel the tears coming on along with the self pity. Soon, she would begin to think about how to fix it, how not to rock the boat of her marriage, her life. Same old good girl cycle.
Molly thought back over all the lessons she had learned and all of the expectations people had of her. She had met them all head on and passed with flying colors. She was tired, though. Who was all this effort for? Certainly, not just herself; what was she getting out of it? She had her own expectations; and lately her husband had not been living up them. This was the last straw. No more of the old Molly. No more trying to please others. No more good girl.
This was it, then, it was decided. Molly stood up and shook both hands out at her side as if she could physically shake off the remains of her old personality. She took a deep breath and blew it out; with it went any reservations she may have been holding on to. A steady hand wiped away a solitary tear as a smile began to form, she shook her head yes as if agreeing with herself. Her heart leaped at this new sensation and her pulse quickened with excitement. This is how it feels to follow your own path, be your own person, live for yourself. It was exhilarating. She imagined a wolf climbing out of a sheep skin. The image felt right. This was a newer, stronger Molly. Anyone watching her at the moment would swear they saw a twinkle in her eye.
New Molly turned and entered the house making a bee line for the laundry basket in her bedroom. She pulled out her husband’s white dress shirt and held it out in front of her. She paused and looked at the lipstick stain once more; it wasn’t on the collar like you read about in a trashy romance novel, it was lower. Much lower. Molly didn’t wear lipstick and she wasn’t a fool. Not any more.
Molly had paused, not in hesitation but in preparation; she worked up a bit of saliva in her mouth and when she had the right amount gathered up, she spat at the shirt aiming for the stain. Direct hit! Satisfied, she wadded up the shirt and headed back outside.
She walked back down to the trash barrel at the end of the drive and tossed the crumpled up shirt inside. She started to walk back to the house then hesitated. Screw ‘em, let them think what they will. She grabbed the barrel and pulled it back to its spot at the top of the driveway. She had plenty of room for another week’s worth of trash.
Making a mental note to call a locksmith, New Molly dusted off her hands then rested them on her hips, super hero style. She couldn’t stop smiling, She felt empowered; she was a bad ass, she felt good. So much had happened this morning and it was life changing. From now on, she came first. Could you be considered a rebel if no one else witnessed it? She didn’t know and didn't care. She was a rebel now.