'How's your business going?'
'Fine.' I hate it.
'How's your hobby?'
'What hobby? Who has time for those?'
'What are you doing, then?'
'Working. Writing.' Even if it sucks, I'm writing every day. I'm feeling better every day. Even if I'm the only person who ever reads it, I don't care. I'm happy. It's dark and depressing, but it's mental relief I hope others can relate to. That's all I care about.
'That's nice,' she said.
It was her last few days on this earth.
I didn't want to race Go-Karts on the allotted track in Kentucky that year. I really just wanted to stay far away from the 'family friend' who tried to finger me on the drive up to Kentucky.
I'd almost forgotten why we were there, then I remembered it was for some lawn and garden convention that my dad wanted to use as an excuse for a family vacation.
My brother and his girlfriend came, and so did one of our mechanics. A guy my age who had a girlfriend, too, but apparently wanted a taste of the boss's daughter just because she was there, female, and not his.
I think we were there to pick up a new line of equipment or something. Anyhow, all I remember are the parts like getting sunburnt, having some sleazy asshole try to shove his dirty fingers inside me, my brother and his girlfriend fondling each other in the backseat, oh, and my mom dying.
I remember that part the most. All the rest are just snippets dangling off the edges, hoping to get some surface time before I wipe them off.
Supposedly there's a day in most all terminal patients' lives deemed the last hoorah. It's like a gift, one day generally right before their death where they're pain-free and able to live happily.
Just for a day, though.
Stark, but witnessed by enough survivors to warrant a 'thing' that gives terminal patients something to look forward to, but also fear like the death that awaits them.
I missed hers. We thought hers had come months prior, but she survived that Waltz with Death. A do not resuscitate didn't faze her.
The third time's the charm, I suppose.
I chose to stay back at the hotel to write a novel I'd been working on. It was a potboiler. I was hoping it'd be my ticket out of my low-middle class white hell and into a superior existence. One away from tractors and truckers and lawn guys trying to follow me home—for what? Sex? Because every woman is so willing to open her legs for the man who stalks her to her front door.
Rape? The loaded and cocked Smith & Wesson under my mattress was ready for moments like those.
I chose to stay back because I didn't want to go do the things my redneck family liked to do.
I stayed back to finish the novel that'd never be published.
I stayed back to avoid spending any extra time with that piece of shit mechanic I fired as soon as we got back to Florida.
I stayed back and missed her last hoorah.
'That sounds fun,' she said, oversized sunglasses allowing recognizably feigned interest in her eyes.
I winced and parting my well-lubricated lips to speak, my oldest daughter's school bus rolled up. She was halfway down the sidewalk bend, cupping the outskirts of our housing development while her backpack was at the other end.
'Girl!' I yelled. 'Come get your backpack!'
She ran sloppily back to retrieve it, then turned and ran toward the stopped bus. 'Bye, Mom,' she yelled just as she reached it's opened doors.
'Bye, Sweetie. Have a good day.'
She blew me an animated kiss and boarded, smiling her goofy, gapped-tooth grin that I love and hate, both at the same time.
A Honda minivan passed and crept up to the stop sign before the bus, just ahead of me.
'Okay,' the woman said. 'Have a good day, Sara. I hope to chat soon!'
She walked off briskly toward the van and began chatting with the mom inside. A tsk crept from mouth.
'Girls all buckled?' I said to my other two children in the back two rows of the van.
'Yep,' the middle one replied as her belt clicked into place.
'Uh huh,' said the other.
'All right, let's go.' I threw the van in reverse and two-point turned to go back out the other side exit of the development since the two women were still talking, blocking the nearest exit.
I escaped it.
But I still haven't decided which made me happier.
Being the snob in a family of rednecks, or being the class-less bitch in a higher class family.
No matter what, it'll never be enough. It'll never be 'right'.
It is what it is. I can accept it, embrace it, or I can be miserable.
No matter what, I still missed her last good day.