Unexpected Encounter

SANDRA

Falling from the hood of the Clyde’s car, Sandra lay face down and motionless in the snow packed alley. The wind blew underneath the back of her thin jacket causing it to billow, the cold piercing the bare skin of her back. In and out of consciousness Sandra heard a man’s voice. In waves of coherency, she tried to understand what he was saying, tried to move her mouth to respond. No words would come. She felt as though her head was the only thing left of her body, as if she had become detached from the rest of it. She could not feel anything besides the pain in her head. Behind the shadow of the man, she saw a blinking red light coming from a car that sat very close to her feet. The shadow hung over her, talking but making no sense. A large gust of winter wind blew her long red hair in a frenzy. Opening her eyes from the abrupt chill, she stared for an instant into the dark eyes of the talking shadow. Then he was gone.

 

CLYDE

It came out of nowhere, like a crouching animal, hiding, waiting to pounce. Moments earlier I had locked up the store, gotten into my cold car, turned the ignition and the lights on. The wipers scraped across the frozen windshield trying to remove a layer of heavy snow. As I pulled away from the store looking through a small clearing in the windshield, like a bullet something had slammed onto my hood so quick and so hard, my foot slammed the brake sending the shape flying to the ground in front of the car.

“What the…” I yelled. Peering through the window between the thumps of the wipers, I squinted hoping to see the animal run away. All I could see was more falling snow. Debating whether to go investigate the damage to my car and whether I wanted to involve myself with a possible injured or angry animal, I slowly backed the car up. If there was nothing there, I would drive away and assess my car in my warm garage. But there was something there. And it was not an animal. Lying a few feet from the car was a person. I grabbed the steering wheel with both hands and sank my head into it trying to think what to do next. Clearly I didn’t see this person who came out of nowhere. Certainly it’s not all my fault that I hit them. But what if the person is dead. Maybe I should just drive away. No one is around. No one would know. Could they prove it was me? I had just gotten my license back after 3 years of traveling by bike. AA was keeping me sober and I bought this car just a few months ago. “Christ,” I said out loud slamming my fists on the wheel. “God damn it.” I slammed the wheel again.

I shut the car off and slowly opened the door. The temperature was dropping and the wind blew tiny shards of ice into my face. I looked around me, besides my car and this person, there appeared to be no one around. Pulling my collar up, I approached the figure on the ground who was lying face down. “Hey” I called, “are you all right?” I got closer and yelled again, “Hey, you, are you okay?” I looked around me again before I knelt down. Gently grabbing the hood of the jacket on the body I lifted it up revealing a mess of red hair. The sight was like a fist in the gut because I knew then who I had just hit with my car. “Holy shit. Holy shit.”  Trying to assess her injuries, I gently rolled her body over onto her back. I pulled the hood in around her neck to keep the snow from filling in the gaps. “Sandra? Can you hear me? Are you hurt? Talk to me. Sandra!” I checked her neck and could feel a faint pulse. There was a small amount of blood at her mouth but I didn’t see any coming from anywhere else or seeping through her clothes. The police had said they couldn’t find her, yet here she is, unconscious, in the snow. I already knew I would not call the police or take her to an emergency room. I did not need any police attention. I did not know anything about this girl except that she may have lost a necklace in my store and could be the one who was asking for help.

I ran back to unlock the back door to my store, pushing the alarm code quickly before it went off. I used a door stop to keep the door open while I ran back to Sandra. Getting both my arms under her small body was easy but carrying her limp body to the store was harder as I slipped around on the fresh snow and ice. Reaching the doorway I took Sarah to the back of the store, away from the windows, and carefully laid her down on a rug on the dark floor. Her body lay limp and she still made no responses to my questions.   Running back outside, I looked over the area where Sandra had been lying on the ground, making sure I had not missed anything that belonged to her.  I drove my car back and forth over the spot where I found her then backed my car up and parked close to the back door. The snow was coming down heavy and quickly covering my tire tracks.

picture hand on window 

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The Story of a Baptism Dress

For 38 years I had kept my wedding dress handing in an ugly plastic hospital discharge clothing bag. It survived more addresses than I care to admit and many times when I almost chucked it. Nostalgia won even as the laced yellowed from age. Over the years it has been taken out of its bag a few times, hung outside to air out, and even worn as a Halloween costume (bride of something), and then put away again. I kept wondering why I kept it until I started having grandchildren. That is when the dress became a possible “bucket list” project. “Someday I am going to make a baptism dress out of my wedding dress,” I would tell my friends. “Sure you are” I would then tell myself. Six years and 4 grandsons later we were blessed with a granddaughter, Etta Sue. It’s not that a little boy’s suit couldn’t have been made from my dress, but up to that point none of the grandsons were baptized, or likely to be as babies, and a little girl’s gown would be so much more fun and frilly to make, right? Once I knew there was a date for her baptism I had two  months to get going. In my head I didn’t think I even needed a pattern but I did buy one anyway. For whatever reason, I put off and put off making that first cut into my wedding dress. I took a lot of pictures of it, spent a lot of sleepless nights thinking how it would go together and kept thinking it would be pretty simple. Finally, one night I started removing all of the lace from the entire bodice of the dress. It took a week of nights!! My eyes were cross-eyed trying to find the “right” white on white thread to pull. It was nerve wracking. Once the lace was all removed I was really disappointed that it all looked so yellow and dirty…so I spent another 1/1-2 weeks mulling over the idea of bleaching the entire dress or just the lace. I ended up bleaching the collar first since I was not going to use it on the baptism dress. Bleaching made it even MORE yellow! My mom suggested I try vinegar. After many days of “should I or shouldn’t I” and “what if the dress disintegrates?” I threw it all in the washer and soaked it in vinegar – and I prayed A LOT. Thankfully it did actually make the material look a little brighter. Whew! Thank Goodness. I took that as a good sign and began cutting out the pattern of Etta’s dress from similar areas on my dress. I wanted the back of her dress to have all of the silk covered buttons my dress did. I had intended the dress to be longer than her so that it would flow when her parents held her over the baptism font but the dress had a mind of its own. As I tried pinning the ruffle from the bottom of my dress onto her dress bodice, it was like a light bulb went off. What a cute SHORT dress this would be. And the biggest plus was NO HEMMING! She is was 9 months old after all, a wiggly little monkey who likes to “go” though she wasn’t quite walking yet. A short dress probably made more sense instead of a long dress getting caught up in her legs. So the short dress was born by using the ruffle of my dress. If I had wanted to make it more girly I could have used a lot more lace, Lord knows there was plenty, but I believe less is best. I also wanted to appeal to Etta’s mom who wasn’t a fan of frilly. After two quick try-ons with her wiggling to get out, I was pretty sure it was going to fit. Then I spent the next couple of days sewing on the 12 silk covered buttons onto the back and making a lace belt/bow as the finishing touch. I finished the baptism dress the Friday night before the Sunday morning baptism. She was so cute with her tights and bow in her hair that day. Seeing her baptized in “a part” of the dress I was married in was really special to me. I am so glad that I saved it. Now the rest of the dress will be saved, in another bag, for a time when I can make wedding ring bearer pillows that I will keep in a hope chest for my grandkids to use when they get married some day. The circle never ends.

Song Parodies – Day 2

#The100dayProject

Sing the parody to the tune of the title song.

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

Healthcare, Healthcare, where are you?

One that covers me and you,

Not the kind that costs an arm,

Or only covers major harm,

Healthcare, Healthcare, where are you?

Universal – that will do

 

My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean    

Their laundry lies over the footstool,

Their bedspreads lie onto the floor,

Their closet doors can’t even shut now,

So help me I’ve said it before.

Pick up, hang up, oh why is it never their job, their job,

Fold this, wash that, oh,

Help me before I implode.

 

The Itsy-Bitsy Spider  

The itsy-bitsy back pain climbed down the il-i-ac

Wham came the strain and wrenched the muscle back

Out came my feet and laid me outright flat

Now the mega-duty back pain 

Said, “How do you like that?”

 

The Trailer

The house was at the end of the dirt road, fences abutted both sides of the narrow property, and brush hung heavily over the rotting wood from years and years of neglect. There was no driveway, just the dug out ruts caused by the constant back and forth from tires over a muddy spot on the weedy grass. Parking close to the fence, I sat in the car taking in my surroundings. It was a gloomy day, rain was in the forecast. Maybe I should have come on a sunny day when things might not look so depressing. There was no sign of life, no wind, no birds singing, it was completely quiet all around me. I was miles from nowhere. I was hopeful that this clue I had been given about my daughter’s whereabouts would bring me closer to finding her. However, this trailer home looked like it had been plopped down into the middle of a thicket of trees and abandoned for a long time. It was very old, it’s original color completely covered by rust, weather and graffiti. The steps that go up to the house were made out of concrete blocks, three on the bottom, and two on the top. Weeds grew through the holes of the bricks, a single dandelion shot up out of the top. I decided to keep my car door slightly open after I got out of the car. I left my purse behind but grabbed my phone.  Stepping cautiously, I started up the brick blocks and they moved slightly under my weight. The outside aluminum door was open, hanging sloppily from one hinge against the trailer. The inside wooden door had no doorknob and was rotting from the outside in. I gently pushed the door open and the silence was broken with a loud screech of rusty hardware. Somewhere something made a quiet rustling sound. I pushed the door as far back as it would go which was just enough to allow me inside. Cigarette smoke mingled with mustiness and dust met my nostrils and I put my hand over my mouth. I pulled my jacket collar up and over my nose and tried breathing through my mouth. The open door provided some light while my eyes adjusted to the dark room.  At my feet a pile of old mail was sprawled across the floor. There were stacks of old yellowed newspapers and car magazines. I picked up an envelope that was addressed to William Trapp. It was postmarked from over a year ago. I threw it back on the pile. William Trapp didn’t mean anything to me but I will remember to check it out once I leave here. I tried the light switch by the front door. Nothing. A second switch covered with old scotch tape didn’t work either. I walked slowly to the window across from the door, hesitated a second, then opened the thin tattered curtains revealing dust encrusted blinds, their cords woven into intricate cobwebs. Thick dust flew out into the room when I moved two of the slats to peek outside. Overgrown trees, bushes and weeds seemed to hug the windows and sides of the trailer like creeping ivy which explained the room’s darkness in the middle of the day. I turned around slowly and headed for the kitchen. The sink was filled with dirty dishes, roaches slithered to their hiding places as I got closer. Dead bugs swam in half drained cups of rusty water. What looked like it had been a burnt piece of toast lay on a paper plate with one perfect bite taken out of it, its edges curled up in a state of decay as tiny bugs moved over it. The mustard colored stove was covered with thick grease that showed signs of rodents who had left their footprints and droppings behind. A pair of beer bottle shaped salt and pepper shakers sat in the middle of the oily mess. On the refrigerator I noted some greasy, dusty magnets hanging on the front, “Be Happy,” “Smile,” and a Bible verse about “Being Still.” On top of the fridge were boxes of Wheaties and Puffed Rice lying on their sides, tops open, their contents all over the floor. My shoes crunched over the cereal as I debated whether to open the refrigerator. Leaning towards it I could smell rancid, rotten food and I could see a black gel oozing out the bottom of the door and decided against it.

Since it appeared no one had been here in a very long time, I decided to check the rest of the trailer. I took my cell phone out of my pocket to see if I had any cell service in case I needed to use it. Clenching my fists and taking a deep breath of the stank air, I headed down the hall on the slanting linoleum floor. I came to the first closed door,  grabbed the handle and opened it quickly. The noise disturbed some mice that scrambled for cover. My eyes tried to adjust to the small darkened bathroom which smelled wet with mold. The floor was covered with waist high piles of what could be towels or clothes, it was too dark to tell. I closed the door shut and made my way down the rest of the hallway and came to a bedroom at the back of the trailer. Enough light made its way through the thin curtains to see that the room was sparsely furnished. A small twin bed was pushed into the farthest corner of the room, its old mattress lumpy and stained.  The closet doors were open, empty blue plastic hangers scattered on the floor. The long shelf above the rod was empty. One black sock lay in the corner covered in a blanket of dust. Could my daughter, Sandra, have been here? Had she slept here? Certainly it would have been against her will if she did.

I went back to the sagging couch, and looked around for anything that might give me a clue she had been here. A single coffee table pocketed with burn marks held an overflowing ashtray with butts cascading over the top; some had lipstick residue, others did not. Sandra never wore lipstick I noted. Scanning the room one last time, I headed for the door. I left the front door like I found it, closing it as best I could. Standing on the concrete blocks, I looked out onto the property. My car added the only color among the weeds and overgrown brush. It was quiet, very quiet. Making my way to my car, I was disappointed this trip had been so fruitless. I still had no clue of what might have happened to my daughter, Sandra, who has now been missing for 3 months. The more I search for her, the less hope I have of finding her. This had been another dead end. There was no indication Sandra has ever been here. I had been misled. I turned my car around and slowly headed back towards town. Adjusting the mirror before I left the dirt road, my eye caught a slight movement near the trailer. I slowed the car, adjusted the mirror and looked again but there was nothing. A shiver ran up my spine but I did not go back.