Addison was set to attend Kindergarten in the fall and was very excited about it, she would spend hours in her room playing “school” with her stuffed animals being the students and she the teacher; she was such a cutie. She had her father’s piercing blue eyes and her hair was still the same flaxen color she was born with; it now hung in soft waves that touched her shoulders. She was a real girly girl and refused to wear jeans or tennis shoes. She would only wear dresses or skirts and when she wore shoes she insisted on wearing Mary Jane’s. She called them her ‘high heels’.
Her favorite pastime was playing with my makeup and begged me to, ‘pretty me up mommy!’ as she would put it. I would tell her she was already prettier than any little girl deserved to be but I would always give in. We would eat bowls of vanilla ice cream with chocolate syrup and put make up on each other and comb each others hair.
I still worked at the store in the mornings but mostly in the office keeping the books. Flo had left the year before; while on a single’s retreat that her church was having, she met a man named Tony Parker. They had a short courtship and she married him in a little chapel in Nashville; when they returned from their honeymoon, she left the store and she and her new husband moved to a town forty-five miles south.
Flo had never really been to church and usually scoffed at my references to Christ and she always wondered why I would drag me and my daughter to church service every Sunday morning. Then one evening a friend of hers from high school had invited her to a revival during Easter week and she came in the store the following Monday giddy over finding Jesus. She said she finally understood what I had been talking about all of those years. From that day on you never heard a bad word cross her lips and on her breaks you would find her in the break room reading her Bible or talking to someone about the love of Christ.
I was very happy for her and glad she had found love, both with Tony and Jesus. I had never seen any of the men that Flo had dated but Tony didn’t come across as someone I thought Flo would be attracted to but she was crazy about him. He stood over six feet tall, had a beer belly and a full black beard. Flo thought he was just about the dreamiest man she ever sat eyes on.
I missed her when she had left, but she called every so often to tell me about how many baptisms were performed that Sunday, how wonderful she and Tony were doing or to invite Addison and me to a church service and dinner after. We took her up on her offer several times and we got together as often as we could.
Peter Sanders arrived at work at 5 a.m. as usual. He followed his normal morning routine of entering from the back door and locking it behind him; making his way through the store turning on the lights and straightening the displays. Then he walked to the front of the store to open the office and wait for the deli workers to arrive. As he approached the office door that morning he noticed that it was slightly ajar.
“Damn night staff. Can’t even remember to close the office door,” He pushed the office door open and was confronted by two young boys stuffing lottery tickets into bags. He stumbled back and one of the startled boys pulled a gun.
The bullet struck Peter Sanders square in the chest killing him instantly. They left him lying flat on his back, arms and legs sprawled out and his eyes wide open staring at the florescent lights above. He was found by a nineteen-year-old girl who started working at the deli just two days before. She never walked in that store again.
The images of boy’s faces were caught on Peter’s security cameras and all three the local news channels ran the video every broadcast. On the fourth day after the shooting one of the boys finally turned himself into the police. He gave them the name of the boy who shot Peter and where he could be found. The shooter was Jason Patton, a stock boy who had been working for Peter for the last three years. Peter had given Jason a key to the store the week before when Peter needed someone to meet the doughnut delivery truck at 4 a.m.; Jason offered to meet them since he lived in the apartments just a block over from the store. That’s where the police arrested him, still in his apartment one block away from where he had killed his employer.
It seemed the entire town had shown up at Peter’s funeral, they had to use twelve guest books and the funeral was delayed for almost two hours because the procession line went out the door and around the block, it never seemed to get shorter.
I stayed at the store long enough to settle Paul’s affairs. Peter willed the store to Kip Bloom with instructions that the store be sold and that Kip keep the money as payment for his debt to him. Peter had also included Addison in his will, willing her ten thousand dollars from the sale to be placed in the college fund that Kip had set up for her when she was born.
Mr. Bloom sold the store to a franchise company out of Indianapolis for slightly below five hundred thousand dollars. I left two days after the sale was final.
The courts ordered that Nicky’s parents would get grandparent visitation every other weekend. Kip would pick Addison up on Friday evening and return her Sunday evening at 6 p.m. and they got two weeks in the summer and every other birthday and Christmas.
Just after the divorce I was able to reconnect with friends that Nicky hadn’t allowed me to talk to while we were married. My friend Marta Greene, who was with me the night I met Nicky was the first to call me after reading about Nicky’s conviction in the paper. We immediately made plans to have lunch. It felt odd to go anywhere I wanted and without having to look over my shoulder constantly. People still recognized me and there was quite a bit of stares and whispering, but I didn’t mind so much. I was free.
Marta had started dating a guy named Ben that we had both went to school with and who had graduated two years before us. They reconnected at a party that Marta went to with Laura and her frat-boy. She felt that the relationship was going great so far and they had brought marriage up lightly in several conversations. More like “what if?” rather then, “when we do” She seemed truly happy and I was truly happy for her.
After several months of talking on the phone, some lunches, shopping dates and us feeling more comfortable in the friendship that I had let fall to the side of the road when I got with Nicky. It was becoming more comfortable to just call to say “hi” and chat. We made plans to hang out at The Homerun on a weekend that Kip and Fannie had Addison. Going there now just wasn’t the same and even though it had just been a few years ago that we were regulars, the crowd seemed so much younger and I wondered when they started letting twelve year olds in bars? Well, they looked twelve to me anyway.
Being around all of the younger, slimmer girls did little for my already low self-esteem. I was still struggling with my weight, I just couldn’t get back down to the size six that I was two years before and decided that a size ten would have to do.
Men didn’t hit on me the way they used to either. I wasn’t looking for a boyfriend but I thought it would be nice to have a man pay a little bit of attention to you even if it was just for an hour or talking over dinner or drinks. I never had any trouble with men telling me how beautiful my face was or how stunning my eyes were but none really made any advancement towards me for dating, most were just interested in sex. Sex was the last thing on my mind. I wasn’t sure when I would be interested in sex again.
“You need a day of beauty! That is what you need!” Marta was always excited about a make-over. “Let’s schedule to get the works!”
“Well, maybe not the works, but I am willing to look into a change.” We headed out to the mall and I got highlights, something I used to always do but hadn’t since I let Nicky control my looks. My flaxen blond hair had gotten much darker and I hadn’t had a decent hair cut in years. When we left the salon I couldn’t keep my fingers out of my hair, it felt soft and silky, not dry and lifeless.
It did make me feel better. We both had our nails done and I bought new makeup. Even though it had been months since Nicky had gone to prison, I only dabbled in the makeup application a few times; it wasn’t easy to do with a baby crawling around and in some strange way I still worried someone would see me wearing it and Nicky would find out. It was easy to just get up and start my day without the fuss and muss, but I felt frumpy and wanted to feel good again.
For the next several years, I started feeling like my own self again; I took an interest in my appearance even though I had only been able to lose about thirty pounds of the seventy-five I had gained during the pregnancy. I went out with friends on the weekends Addison spent with her grandparents and I even went out on some dates, but no one I would have considered to be serious boyfriends, even though several of them I really liked and felt it was a rejection when it just didn’t work out. The last thing I needed was rejection.
I had been invited out one Saturday night by Lorene, a friend from the store. She had just gotten a divorce and wanted to go celebrate it with a night of dancing. She was ready to party and made sure everyone there knew it. We decided on a little dive that catered to the twenty-one to seventy-one age groups. The Kabooty Inn was nothing like The Homerun which was just a meat market for college students. The Kabooty was a meat market for all types. The dance floor was tiny and hot. Fans were set all around but unless you were dancing right in front of one, you were sweating. The Electric Slide had come on and every female in the room seemed to rush the floor; I considered myself a pretty good dancer and this was one of my favorite dances. It allowed me to show off my rhythm and get some exercise. After the song was over I headed to the bar to grab a cola, since it was Lorene’s night I told her that I would be her chauffeur for the evening. The bar stools were packed, so I slid in between a couple people to let the bartender take my order.
“Can I get a Coke and a Bud Light?” I yelled over the pulsating music. I pulled my money out and waved it at the bartender, it seemed to get you got waited on so much quicker. The bartender nodded and went to fill the order.
“Hi,” I turned to the voice at my right.
“Hi,” I replied and looked back to see if the bartender was coming. The man spoke again, extending his hand.
“Name’s Chip,” I took his hand to shake it and had to pull a little harder than needed to release my hand from his grip.
“Tess.” I smiled a polite smile.
“Tess, well that’s a very pretty name, for a very pretty lady.”
“Thanks.” He wasn’t bad looking. Not the normal type I would have been attracted to. But then again it seemed the type I was usually attracted to would end up being complete jerks.
His attire was the norm for the time. Plaid shirt cut off at the shoulders with a thermal long-sleeve jersey underneath. Faded jeans and hiking boots. He wore a necklace made of a thin leather rope and a small medallion that appeared to be some sort of astrological sign hung from it. He wore small, intellectual looking glasses. He had brown hair that was thinning on top and appeared to be in his mid-twenties, same as me.
“You know we would make really beautiful children.” He smiled. Now that I look back at that conversation I can see what a cheesy line that was, but at the time my self-confidence was low. I didn’t take compliments well anyway because I didn’t know what the compliment giver’s agenda was.
“Really?” I asked with a bit of skepticism in my voice, “How do you figure?”
“We just would, especially if they had your beautiful blue eyes and pretty lips.” I felt the heat of a blush wash over my face. His smile was kind and he had gorgeous eyelashes. I couldn’t imagine why he was talking to me, but I decided to let him, “So Tessa. Are you here with someone?” The bartender handed me the drinks and I waved at him to let him know to keep the change.
“Yeah, actually my friend Lorene is down there,” nodding my head in the direction of the dance floor, “I should probably take her this beer,” I held the bottle up for him to see.
“Well are you going to come back up here and talk to me again?” He turned his bar stool towards me as I backed away.
“I could probably do that.” I smiled and walked towards the dance floor.
Touching Trees by T L Lady is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at https://touchingtrees.wordpress.com.wouldn’t have her. So I stayed, I would make it to the year if it killed me. And it just might.
By posting content to this blog, you agree to transfer copyright to the blog owner.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
© 2013 Copyright Tracy L Lady, Touching Trees. Includes all pictures and text within.