Scarf


Rain drummed on the roof and streamed down the window of Daisy's kitchen.  She held the phone and dialed her sister's number for no good reason, just that her fingers remembered the sequence after thirty years.  The numbers clicked into place traveling from Mississippi to California.  The phone rang and rang.
      Daisy looked past the colored glass lizard that hung in the window, past that streaming water to the day lilies outside bending under the weight of the water falling.  Everything was drenched.
      She heard the car in the garage just outside the door, the feet of her husband coming toward her down the hallway, his laugh.
      She turned.
      "Didn't you hear me?" he asked.  "Who you calling?"
      She considered for a minute whether or not to answer.  "Pearl," she said, hanging up.
      "Pearl?" he said frowning.
      "I'm not crazy," she said.  "I'm just lonesome for my sister."
      "I'm sure they moved years ago," he said.  "I'm sure that husband and the twins moved after it happened.  I never liked that man.  Couldn't trust him."
      She didn't want him to get started.  She lifted a lid on a pot.
      "Could smell it down the drive," he said.  "I could think of a lot of better things to eat than cabbage."
      Inside was Ma Bell's sausage, new potatoes, and yes, the cabbage, just like years ago.  "I need a beer," she said.
      "I bought you some wine."
      "I need beer."
      He handed one over and when she popped the top open, he said, "Help me get the rest of these groceries?"
      She took a sip and poured the rest in the pot.
      Flip-flop, flip-flop, she thought listening to the sound of her silly shoes on the concrete drive.
      "Awful long time for a trip to the grocery," she said.  "I thought I was going to have to eat without you."
      As he left the trunk, she saw two things at once from the corner of her eye—her best friend's scarf caught in the passenger door of his car and his turning too fast and slipping on a puddle from water that had found its way inside the carport.  His head hit right by the gas cap, and the dent he left behind was round and caved in the perfect size for his head to fit right back in.
      He was sitting on the ground saying, "Goddammit."
      She gathered up groceries.  "Look," she said.  "The wine didn't bust open.  Thank goodness."
      "All you care about's the groceries?" he said.  "Help me up."
      There was the exhaust pipe.  There was his hand and she reached to meet it.
      She was thinking how she and her sister had done well for themselves forty years ago.  Both had fallen in love with good providers, really fallen in love.  Here was her reward for choosing wisely, this home, this land, that garden.  Pearl's husband had been a doctor who took her to California and bought her a grand house.  Daisy always thought maybe that was the problem going so far away from home.  Daisy would never know what made Pearl go into that garage and turn that car on and kill herself with exhaust.  She would never understand how you could leave two young kids locked in a house while you did it.  She thought probably a couple of seconds would have changed Pearl's mind.  Surely the years would have taught what matters and what doesn't.
      She said, "Get up old man.  I'm glad I don't have to sweep up glass is what I care about."  And she walked right on in the house, pretending that neither of them saw that scarf.  She never saw it.  She never saw him see her seeing it.  
Copyright © 1999-2017 Juked