I’m currently revising one of the short stories for my short story anthology (date of publication TBA) and decided to feature one of the stories here in installments. Please feel free to comment, offer feedback and share. Enjoy!
Jessie Mae was standing outside watering her grass when her next door neighbor Larry was cutting up his wife’s body. Had it been a few months earlier she would have still been at school making sure her students made it on the bus and straightening up her classroom. But she’d been forced into early retirement by the school board after her principal had suspended her because she said Jessie Mae’s age had started to make her a “liability in the classroom,” – she was accused of falling asleep while she was monitoring the students on the playground—so at only 57-years-old, she was forced to spend her afternoons finding things to keep her busy like taking care of her garden and her lawn. Her flower bed had a mixture of flowers that were chosen for their colors, pink and purple impatiens, blue and yellow English Primrose and Sweet Alyssum. Some of the petals drooped from the weight of the water, but they would soon absorb the water and resume their posture, showing off all their glory. The diamond drops of water that glistened on the flowers almost seemed to be too heavy a weight for the flowers to bear, but the flowers were resilient and in their resilience was their true beauty. Every year, no matter what happened the year before, the flowers always came back. And sometimes when she thought she’d overwatered them, she’d come out the next day and they’d be standing proud as if though they had not struggled under the pressure of all the water from the day before. Using her free hand, she reached up and adjusted the brim of her gardening hat to shield her eyes from the glare of the sun.
Her gaze was focused on the grass she was now watering, which sparkled like gems as the sun’s rays caressed each damp blade. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw the orange school bus pull to a stop at the corner. A group of lively children and teenagers spilled out of the open doors of the bus. The bus transported students to and from Woodmeade elementary and middle schools. Jessie had been a teacher at Woodmeade Elementary so some of the students who recognized her called out to her and told her they missed her. Inside his house, Larry was concentrating on cutting the chunks of flesh into near-perfect squares, some of which looked like pieces of the chicken breast cubes Jessie Mae would add to her salad later that evening for dinner. Once the pieces of Lenora’s body were cut into almost perfect chunks of flesh, he began to wrap them in the butcher paper that Lenora kept in the kitchen pantry. The sturdy paper, which she had used to break down large trays of pork chops, ground beef, and neck bones, was perfect for containing the blood and keeping it from spilling on the floor as he wrapped the pieces of flesh.
Jessie Mae had just shut off the outside faucet and was coiling the hose around her arm so she could return it to the outside storage closet when Larry left the kitchen and went up to the second floor, hunting the tape he knew was in the house somewhere. She listened as the group of kids made their way down the street. Something twisted and knotted inside her as she noted once again how much she missed being in the midst of her students. Being a teacher had been more than a job for her; it had been a passion for her. She enjoyed watching her students engaged in the learning process, especially when they discovered they were capable of doing something they’d at first believed impossible. It had been only a couple of months since she packed up all her belongings in boxes and moved them into the storage room where she also kept her lawn and gardening equipment. Not wanting to continue her train of thought, because she could only cry so much about something she was powerless to change, her gaze was drawn to the kitchen window which was lined with potted plants she’d picked up from the Home Depot. Though she no longer ate her dinner at the kitchen table, she’d read that having plants in the house was healthy because they purify the air and release oxygen. She didn’t know how true that was, but it gave her something else to do. She often thought the four-bedroom house, which had been the perfect size for her and her husband to raise their family in, was too large for her now that she was living alone. If her daughter had her way about it, Jessie Mae would sell their family home and use the proceeds to move to Chicago where he daughter and Jessie’s grandchildren now lived.
Jessie Mae was pulling her mail out of the mailbox when Larry lifted the id on the storage freezer in his garage. Already stored in the freezer was what remained of a month’s worth of the various meats Lenora kept on hand so she’d always have something to prepare for Larry’s dinner. Since they’d never had children, a full freezer of meat usually lasted them for several months. As he removed the white packages with Lenora’s handwriting scrawled across the front, his eyes were drawn to the four square garage door windows; the presence of his neighbor caused him to hesitate but only for a brief moment. In that instant, it had seemed that their eyes had met, but he was sure that was just his imagination. He quickly turned his attention back to the task at hand. He moved more of the raw meat out of the deep freeze to make room for Lenora, wonder what he should do with the meat that wouldn’t fit back in the freezer. Lenora and her best friend Jessie Mae often shared and exchanged food since they lived so close to one another; maybe he’d carry some of the meat over to her later instead of throwing it all in the trash.
The sudden chiming of bells startled him. Looking back out the windows, he saw that Jessie Mae was no longer standing where she’d been before.
Peace & Love,
*Note: The second installment will be posted in a few days. The above work is an original text created by me.
(c) 2016 by Rosalind Guy