Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes(3)

By: Denise Grover Swank


Nevertheless, when I reached my car, I looked around for signs of someone preparing to jump out and grab me. Where should I go? If I went home, Momma would ask questions. I’d rather give Suzanne’s hammer-toed feet a pedicure than face that. I turned left, toward the edge of town. A visit to my sister sounded like a good idea.

Violet lived in a new neighborhood on the outskirts of town, still in the city limits but hanging on the edge like it couldn’t make up its mind. She lived in a new house, my older sister’s dream come true. She hated the one we grew up in, the old and worn-out home I still shared with our Momma. It only needed a little tender loving care, but Momma insisted it was a waste of time and money to paint and add fresh curtains. Not to mention that in her eyes, it was greedy. Momma tried to avoid the seven deadly sins like they were Satan himself.

Violet lived in a cookie-cutter replica of every other home on her street. The houses were only a couple of years old, each one in various pastel shades. Most of the yards were bare of landscaping, with just an occasional tiny tree here and there. But Violet took great pride in her home, and flowerbeds full of red begonias lined the walk from the driveway to the front door and the backyard was bursting with more. Violet loved flowers.

I parked my old Chevy Nova in the driveway. It was Daddy’s old car. It became mine after he died during my freshman year in college, when Momma made me drop out of school to take care of her. The car was old, but well maintained. Not that it mattered. I didn't drive it much. I had nowhere to go. Or, more accurately, Momma said I had nowhere to go.

My knuckles rapped the metal door. I didn't want to ring the doorbell for fear I’d wake up my niece and nephew from their naps. The door swung open, and the shock of my unexpected visit was written on Violet’s face.

“Rose! What on earth are you doin’ here at this time of day?” She gripped the edge of the door with one hand and held a dishtowel in the other. She looked like one of those greeting cards of women from the fifties, only those were spoofs and Violet was the real thing.

Not that I was making fun of her. Violet was everything I longed to be. Pretty. Married. A mother. Free.

“I’m sorry to barge in on you, Violet,” I said with a sigh, “but I wasn’t sure where else to go.”

Violet’s eyes widened with concern and she moved out of the entrance. “Of course. Come on in.” She led the way to the small kitchen where the mouth-watering smell of chocolate chip cookies greeted me. A mixing bowl sat on her tiny kitchen island, along with a cooling rack covered in a fresh batch of cookies.

I perched on a bar stool in front of the island and snatched a cookie so fresh that it folded over as I lifted it from the rack.

“Want some sweet tea?”

“Mmmhmm.” I mumbled through a mouth full of cookie.

Violet poured us both a glass and sat on a stool. She sipped her tea as she watched me over the top of her cup, waiting. I loved that about Violet. While Momma was always quick to snap and drag every piece of information out of me, Violet was content to wait.

I set my tea on the counter, careful not to let the sweat-covered glass slip through my fingers.

“Violet, do you remember me ever having visions of anything bad?”

Violet scrunched her nose. “Bad? You mean like the time you told Miss Fannie her husband was sleeping with her best friend?”

“Well….”

“Or the time you told Bud Fenton his business partner was cheating on the books?”

“No.…”

“Or….” Her eyes widened in terror, “when you told Momma that Ima Jean was going to win first place in the pie contest at the Fenton County Fair?” Violet shook her head at the memory. Then she nodded, raising her eyebrows. “That was a bad one.”

I shuddered. Up until that year, Momma had always won the pie contest at the Fenton County Fair. She never forgave me for it. “No,” I hesitated and sipped my tea. “Worse.”

Violet appeared stumped as she tried to reason what could be worse than taking away Momma’s blue ribbon. She waited.

I cleared my throat. “Um, today I saw a vision about me.” I paused, letting the full weight of it settle in the room.

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