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George Ferryman - 3

Note: This is part three of this story. Please click the links for parts one and two.


CHAPTER TWO

Monday, October 23


Jane’s red marker streaked diagonally through the “23” on her calendar. Forced into retirement several years ago, she had a hard time differentiating one day from the next, making calendar tracking essential. For decades, calendars had been her jam — filled with juicy business meetings, lunch soirees and weekend events at the Met. Her skills as an art director peaked when in her 40’s, but she rode the wave to 65, cashing in on years of experience and, more importantly, her connections with those in high places.


At this point, most of her friends had long since moved to Tampa or Phoenix, trading unpredictable winters for perpetual summer. Eventually they gave up trying to convince Jane to join them. She made her distaste for hot weather abundantly clear; transforming pale, Northeast complexions into face-sized raisins was never Jane’s idea of beauty.


So here she was: no job, no friends. Only her sister called her regularly to check in (much to Jane’s dismay). Retirement sucked on so many levels.


She looked down again at the red line. Her son George had received the summons three weeks ago and she had yet to hear from him. She’d expected a rock through her window, an angry phone call or, at least, a flaming bag of horseshit on her front steps — any of which she could have dealt with — but this radio silence was driving her mad.


“The little shit,” she thought to herself, “he’s doing this on purpose.” A glance at the calendar reminded her of yet another upcoming irritant… her birthday. When she was a kid, a Halloween birthday meant a cool, witchy-themed cake, elaborate costumes and a neighborhood filled with trick-or-treating friends. Her closest buddies would gather at her house afterwards and trade Butterfingers and Hershey bars.


In college, trick-or-treating was replaced with all-night parties. Costumes were created with as little fabric as possible to make it easier to rub up against frat boys; sexy witches filled red solo cups with spiked liquid potions; and chocolate was only consumed during "that time of the month." Her closest buddies would drink too much and end up sleeping with each other’s boyfriends.


But that was decades ago, and Jane was no longer a sexy witch. The wart on her chin was real, along with grey wisps of hair, and saggy boobs that fell under her armpits when she slept on her back. If she’d had her way, there would be no birthday this year. The big 7-0 was pissing her off.


__________________________


After emptying her bank account and selling her jewelry, Marilyn had barely enough cash to leave the city, let alone the country, but her instincts convinced her to make a bold move. Risky, since she and her instincts weren’t exactly on speaking terms these days, but whatever.


She venmo’d the cat sitter and watered the plants. Her African Violet was on the precipice of sharing its purple and white petals with the world, but she would not be there to bear witness. By the time she returned, she was sure the blossoms would be dead. “No matter,” she said aloud, “there will be others.” It was an optimistic thought, to be sure, and one decidedly uncharacteristic of her. But she was feeling hopeful, buoyed by the promise of fresh pineapples, endless sunshine, and enough sand to soften the callouses on her feet.


One last look-around, and Marilyn was out the door. She carried her bag down three flights to the street and hailed a cab. In the distance, she heard what sounded like a crow. “Odd,” she thought, “you don’t see too many crows in the city.” The cabbie put her bag in the trunk and together they maneuvered through narrow streets to the airport, leaving one life behind and beginning another.


[Click here for the next installment.]




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