When my best friend in high school and I were bored in class, we would write soap operas for each other. We did it with the sole intent of making the other laugh so hard she would pee her pants a little. Or get in trouble. Preferably both.
With Greener Grass, I'm penning my own trashy mini-series as if I'm suffering through a lecture about Trojan wars. Or whatever.
Prodded by your comments and the feedback of some real life friends, I'm just continuing. I'm writing with no idea how long this story might turn out to be. So, if you're tired of this, please tell me and I'll wrap it up. Otherwise, I think I'd like to see where Tamara wants to go. The sad little hussy.
If you're new to this and are interested in reading the first part of the story, it's in the right sidebar under I Like To Write.
An engine rumbled in the distance, cresting a nearby hill and coming closer. Tamara dove behind a dogwood and crouched there until the car passed. It hadn't been Dave. Of course it hadn't been Dave. He was in front of the TV with a beer by now. He probably thought she'd run to the grocery store for more milk or detergent. He'd never notice the missing photo of her mother. Or the candle.
Her absence wouldn't even sink in, not really, until the next morning when the kids leapt from bed and started thundering around the house.
She brushed herself off and looked around, wondering where to go, wondering why she hadn't stayed on the bus until she'd hit a business district.
"Dumb ass," she hissed. "Dumb-fucking-ass."
She shoved the candle in 9874's mailbox. A copper deal atop a black metal post. She thought of her own mailbox, a rusty silver tube bashed in on one side where some punks had hit it with a baseball bat. How lame, anyway, to grab the candle. She should've taken pictures of the kids. She should've at least gone in their rooms and nuzzled them before she left. Then she'd have their fresh cottony scents in her nostrils, the memory of their soft skin on her lips.
Not that she wouldn't see them again. Soon. She would.
It was then that she heard a voice behind her. "You look a little lost."
Tamara turned and faced a woman in a bathrobe. Between 55 and 60 with bright blond hair pulled into a ponytail and glossy lip balm smeared over and around her lips. The woman wiped at it self-consciously.
"I am," Tamara said, "a little lost."
"You live around here?"
"On Houston. Houston and 48th," she said.
"That's only a few blocks away." The woman squinted up the street. "Hey, I think I've seen you. Walking with your kids."
"Yeah," Tamara said. "Probably."
Then silence descended, so complete that she could hear the woman's sticky lips part when she said, "Do you need help of some sort?"
Tamara nodded, horrified as tears began to slip down her cheeks.
The woman put her arm around Tamara's shoulders and said, "C'mon in. I'll make you some nice chai."
Her house wasn't cutesy like Tamara realized she'd expected. No figurines or framed needlepoint in sight. Instead, there were board games. Over the fireplace was a canvas onto which hundreds of Scrabble tiles were glued. Tamara made out the words, Spectacle and Wings. On the west wall a Monopoly board hung, dotted with several wads of crumpled fake money. On top of a side table, was a framed card from Pit. The Flax.
"What's with the games?" Tamara asked.
The woman said, "My husband. He loved board games. This artwork was all his."
"He died. Two or three years ago now." The woman bustled into the kitchen.
"Two or three? You don't remember?" Tamara called, shifting her weight, considering asking if the chai would be decaf.
"Let's see," the woman said, counting months aloud. "Okay, yes. It was two years and seven months ago. He was taken out by the flu. Can you believe that? Influenza."
There was the sound of a microwave door slamming shut, a few beeps, the whir of the chai heating.
"Jeez," Tamara said. She'd have to remind herself to get the kids flu shots in October.
When the woman came from the kitchen carrying two mugs that looked homemade, Tamara said, "Does this have caffeine?"
"Well, yes. Is that a problem?"
Tamara had avoided caffeine as if it were cyanide during her other pregnancies. But then, who knew where this pregnancy was going. "No," she said. "Not a problem."
They sipped quietly for a few minutes, Tamara studying red dice suspended within a paperweight and the woman staring into the middle distance, still with the Vaseline slick around her mouth. "So," the woman said. "Where were you off to on this beautiful summer evening?"
It came to Tamara before she had time to think about it. "New York."