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Retroactive Posts: Autumn Twilight part 3

May 8, 2013

(Originally posted on October 28th, 2012)

Beth
October 28th
6:45 P.M.

It was getting shitty outside; cold and grey and overcast. I didn’t want to be out here in it, but the legal system had to have its way. The kid had to be in his father’s custody by four. It was well past six at this point.
I look through the rear view mirror in my car to see my son James, wearing his favorite green jacket and fooling around with a toy.
I shake my head.
Six years come Thanksgiving. My life before the divorce seems like a different life at this point; a different movie but the same actors.
I pull into Frank’s drive way and James throws off his seat belt and jumps out of the car before I can even put it in park.
By the time I shut the vehicle off and make it to the front door, Frank was holding James in his arms and looking at me with a disgusted look.
“Sorry we’re late, I was jus-”
“It’s ten ’til seven, Beth.” he says, cutting me off.
I stop a few yards from his door and throw my hands out helplessly.
“Well he’s here now.” I respond, “We’re just a little late. It doesn’t have to be a big deal.”
Frank puts James down and tells him to hurry off to his room before crossing hims arms at me.
“We both know the rules, Beth. You’re to have him at my door no later than four every other Sunday.”
“I know, I know. I jus-”
“Were you drinking, too? Is that why you’re late?” he asks.
“Oh come on, Frank.”
“I’m calling Kim first thing tomorrow morning. This isn’t working and we need to figure something else out.”
I scoff.
“I suggest you keep yourself available with your phone nearby.” he continues.
“Can Momma stay here tonight?” comes James’ voice, who had been standing just out of sight behind Frank.
“Go on back inside.” says Frank, motioning for James to let the two of us talk.
He then turns to me once again and stares at me for a moment before shaking his head.
“Drive safe.” he says and steps inside before closing the door.
I drearily walk back to my car, getting in and putting my seat belt on. I stare at the steering wheel blankly for a few moments before noticing James at the window, waving his hands at me.
I give him the best smile I can muster and return the wave before starting up the car and pulling out of the drive way to return home.
A short way after I pull off of the highway onto the road leading to Bluehaven, I roll into Lark’s Package store. After what Frank said, I feel foolish being here, but then again I’m a grown woman. If I want a drink, I should be able to have one.
I throw the car into park and head inside.
“Ah Beth!” comes a scraggy voice as soon as I enter the door.
It belongs to the owner of the store, old man Lark. His wife was the life of the place, and I know he doesn’t get much company now that she’s gone so I try to be as nice as I can when I stop by.
“How’s my handsome man doing tonight?” I say, throwing out a fake smile.
“It’s getting cold out there!” he says smiling and reaching behind the counter for my preferred bottle of vodka.
“It sure is, hon.” I say, reaching into my handbag for my wallet. “Is everything going alright?”
“Is now.” Lark responds, placing the bottle in a brown bag and grinning as wide as his fake teeth would allow.
I couldn’t help but smile.
“One of the kids says somethin’ got to his cattle the other night though. Said maybe it was a pack of wolves.”
“Oh, that’s terrible.” I hand him a twenty and do my best to fake sympathy.
“It sure is,” he says, handing me the change. “Never had any problems with ’em before, he says. I’d say it was bound to happen.”
I nod in agreement.
“Well I’m going to get on home.” I say, turning for the door.
“You snuggle up tight now, you hear?”
“Sure thing, hon. You do the same.”
I don’t wait until I get home to crack open the bottle. Warm vodka isn’t one of my favorites, but it’ll do.
I take a few harsh swigs and then continue towards Bluehaven.
A handful of miles down the road one of my favorite songs comes onto the radio and I hunch down to turn it up. Upon returning my eyes, I notice a flicker in my rear view window. The red and blue flash of a police vehicle.
My heart skips a beat and I throw open the armrest. I retrieve a pack of bubble gum from within and slide out a few pieces, tossing them into my mouth as slyly as possible. I then take the brown bag between my legs and jam it under my seat as I slowly coast to the side of the road and put on my brakes.
“Fuck.” I say, slapping the steering wheel and lowering my head.
After a few moments, I sit up and look through the rear view mirror.
No cop.
I turn in my seat and look back. There’s no sight of them.
I let out a relieved laugh and let my heart resume its natural beat.
“It’s just stress.”
I then see something off to the side of the road in front of me. Something bright green in the brush.
Leaning forward and squinting, it comes into focus in the failing light. It looks like…
“Momma!” comes a small voice. James’ voice.
I roll down my window and lean my head out of the car.
“James?!” I shout.
How could he be here? Did Frank drive him out here? Why would he do such a thing, and why would James not be with him?
I lean my head out further to try and get a better look.
I then hear a loud squealing noise that makes the hair on my neck and arms stand on end. It causes me to duck back into my car just as a large dark object darts past my car door.
“Get the fuck out of the road!” comes a mans voice.
It was just a driver.
I catch my breath. I’m losing it. James wouldn’t be all of the way out here. He’s safe at Frank’s.
I consider that fact for a moment. Maybe safer there than with me?
I shake off the thought and begin once again towards Bluehaven, my apartment, my shitty cable package, and my warm couch.

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