Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes(4)

By: Denise Grover Swank

“You? But that’s impossible. You’ve never seen yourself in a vision before.” Violet cocked her head. “Have you?”

I pursed my lips and shook my head. “No, I’m sure I saw someone else’s vision. It just happened to be about me.”

Violet grabbed a cookie and took a nibble. “Who was it? What did you see?”

For some reason, I didn't think I should tell her. The seriousness of the vision, and the fact I knew the name of the man who killed me scared the bejiggers out me. To speak it would make it real. To remain silent left it in the realm of the nebulous otherworld. I shrugged. “Just a customer at the DMV. Nothing special.”

I worried Violet would push harder, but mentioning the DMV jogged her memory. “That reminds me. What are you doin’ here eatin’ my cookies when you’re supposed to be at work?”

I shrugged again then grabbed another cookie. “Dunno, it was a slow day.”

Violet squinted her disbelief. “On a Friday? At the end of the month?”

Henryetta was a small town, and word was bound to get out about Freaky Rose fainting at the DMV. Violet would be upset if she heard it from someone else. “Well, I don’t know what happened. I was sittin’ there at my desk, tryin’ to work and suddenly I just fainted and whacked my head on the counter.”

Violet leaned forward and examined my forehead. “Oh, I see it. Do you want some ice for that?”

“No, I’m fine.”

“Why did you faint? You’ve never fainted before.”

“No, but I was really cold.”

“Do people faint from cold? I can see hot….” Violet bit her lip and looked out her kitchen window as she considered it.

“I dunno, Violet. I just fainted.” I regretted the harshness of my words. “I’m sorry, Vi. I’m tired.”

Violet’s eyes got as big as the hubcaps on her husband Mike’s four-wheel drive pickup truck. “You don’t think you’re pregnant, do you?”

Her question shocked me more than seeing my own lifeless body in my vision. “Good heavens, no. NO!” To be pregnant meant I had to… with a man. Fire flooded my face and I placed my glass against my cheek. “How could you ask such a thing, Violet Mae Beauregard?”

“Well…” Violet said slowly and searched for the right words.

“Do you think so little of me? How could I be pregnant? You know I’ve never…ever…”

Violet plastered an indignant look on her face and lifted her chin in defiance. “Well, maybe you should. Have you ever considered that, Rose? It's the twenty-first century, for heaven’s sake. People have sex.”

I shrank away from her in horror. “How can you say such a thing? Momma would have a conniption.”

“And maybe that’s why you should, Rose. Momma needs a few conniptions. You need to stand up to her. You’re fritterin’ your life away. You’re gonna regret it one day, mark my words.”

We sat in silence while I digested Violet’s pronouncement. There was no denying I’d thought everything Violet just said, but they were just thoughts. Ugly and hideous thoughts. I couldn’t act on them.

“Momma needs me, Violet. You know that. I’m all she’s got left.”

“And why is that, Rose?”

I stared at her like she’d asked me to explain how to assemble a nuclear bomb.

“I’ll tell you why. She’s an abusive old woman who’s run everyone else away. Why, even poor Daddy had to die to escape from her.”

“Violet Mae!”

Violet squirmed in her seat and leaned closer, lowering her voice. “You know it’s true, Rose. Everyone says so. The question is why do you put up with it? You’re a grown woman.”

I would have loved to stand up to Momma. I couldn’t do a blessed thing right in that woman’s eyes, but somehow, every time I tried, I froze up like the power lines in a raging ice storm. I looked down at my glass of tea, running my finger around the rim. “It’s not that easy.”

“Well, of course it won’t be easy. You’ve let her ramrod you for twenty-four years. But Rose, it’s time. You can’t let her control you for the rest of your life.”