Narration and "voice" assignment from Creative Writing, OSU.
“COME ON! You stupid piece of junk!”
You would have thought I was maneuvering an aircraft carrier, circa 1912 down I-35 this morning; hull scraping across the pavement and grinding its way between traffic. But no. Aircraft carrier she is not, 1962 Chevy Nova she is. Why in God’s name my good-for-nothin’ husband had to leave me with this olive green hunk of junk is beyond me. He bought this contraption the year we were married, despite my telling him he was an IDIOT. “Ford’s the way to go, you moron! Haven’t I taught you anything?!” Well, I apparently hadn’t taught him anything because two months after we were married this hideous beast resided in my front yard; right between my azaleas and the crab grass. I am far from quiet as I make the turn at highway 33. I send a spray of gravel across both lanes of traffic along with a stream of bright orange sparks as my bumper comes into contact with the shoulder. A thick plume of black smoke is being emitted by the tail pipe as well as a comparable plume from the driver side window. I haven’t been able to kick the habit for years. At this point, with 55 years of smoking under my belt, I have fewer days left than cigarettes. Why stop now? No use making things any harder I always say. Easy roads, take the easy roads.
I flick my still lit cigarette from the open window and take a good long look at the old hand before me. “When did that happen?!” Just yesterday I was a young, petite thing with raven hair and bright eyes. Now I’m lucky if I can pluck all the raven hairs from my chin before I head off on my daily errands. The few friends I have in this world think I’m a crotchety old bitty…and they’re right. I’m as rusty in appearance as my automobile and I’m sure it has a lot to do with my perpetual sour mood. On a number of occasions they have affectionately referred to me as Ouiser Boudreaux, the lovably obnoxious character from Steel Magnolias. They tell me that my eyes are permanently squinted from years of looking down my nose at people and that if I’m not careful, they are bound to go crossed. Remembering this comment, I lean forward to take a peek at my reflection in the rearview mirror. I tug at the crow’s feet on either side of my eyes and let out a grumble. “As Ouiser would say, ‘I’m not crazy; I’ve just been in a very bad mood for 40 years!”
I pulled into the long drive of 7 Penn Brook Lane. Children were running
through the yard, giggling and playing. “This is it,” I tell myself. “This is my hell.” I kick open my car door and pull my larger-than-last year self from the seat. I turn to slam the door and took one last look at my reflection in the clouded window. “Oh, heavens! Would you look at this hair?! Blasted car!” I give the tire a swift kick and then curse at it for causing me pain. “Why couldn’t my good-for-nothin’ husband have left me with a Caddie?! With some air conditioning for Pete’s sake!” I had turned the ignition off already, but moments pass before the car finally dies. Putt, Putt, Putt…BANG! The kids squeal and giggle. I turn to peer at them through the newly emitted cloud of black fog. “Watch it wee ones…Ouiser's here.” They scurry like cockroaches. I cough a deep, smoker’s cough, spit off the side of the porch, pop a breath mint, and walk through the front door.
“Mrs. Fletcher. Hi, how are you?”
“Terrible. I’ve been to at funeral today, Sweetheart. How do you think I’d
be? And I’ve got so much static in my hair, I can just about pick up everything except money and men. Where’s my niece? And why aren’t there napkins on this table? You need napkins when you’re having guests. Shay? Honey, where are the napkins?