Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Short Story Mystery

Ride Into The Fog
By Linda P. Kozar


“Don’t go!” Breathless, I grabbed at her sleeve and begged her again.
She stared straight ahead, oblivious to my touch. “I have to.”
“But it’s getting dark and there’s fog. You shouldn’t cross that bridge when it’s foggy. The road gets slick and you won’t be able to see two feet in front of you.”
She shook her head. “We’ll be fine. Besides, I want to drive at night when the kids are sleeping. It’s easier that way.”

Her shoulder-length red hair, matted in a rat’s nest of neglect, matched the baggy dress, twisted out of shape, like she’d slept in it. Skin freckled and rough, without makeup, my cousin Kelsey was a mess. Six kids and six years had taken a toll.
Surely this woman wasn’t the “Kels” I knew growing up. Back then, she was slender with cascading curls of long vibrant red hair and blue eyes, the kind you could almost see right through.

Voice low as a purr, she was determined. “I need to leave.”

“You think he’s with her,” I asked, “with that woman?”

She hesitated. Pulled a thread from her sleeve. “Yes.”

“Look, Kels—why don’t you just stay here with me for awhile? Leave him, move here and start your life over. He’s no good.”

She needed to hear it. What a loser--I never understood why she married him. Kelsey could have had her pick, but she chose a man who never worked, who abused her and treated her. . .

“Marcy, I know what I look like. I’m frumpy and out of style.” Her eyes fixed forward as if focusing on something. “My skin’s dull and I’m tired all the time. “ She rubbed her eye and I noticed her wrist looked crooked.

“What’s wrong with your wrist?” I asked. “It doesn’t look right.”

She drew her arm down and tucked it under her sleeve. “Guess I broke it lifting furniture or something. It healed though. I’m okay.”

Angry, I stomped. “Why? Why do you stay with him?”

She smiled from the corner of her lip. “I loved—love him. He was different then, romantic He bought me flowers, even when we couldn’t afford them. . .told me I was beautiful.” Her voice trailed off. “But now I’ve lost him.”

A silent pause followed. I grabbed at straws, “Good riddance. You may have lost him, but you have the kids. Even if he doesn’t love you anymore, he cares about his kids. He does care about his kids, doesn’t he?”

She leaned back against the car and looked up at me. What did I see in those eyes? Something.

Uneasy, she must have sensed my thoughts somehow and turned her face away to focus on the kids playing on the merry-go-round at my apartment complex.
Nodding her head in agreement, she answered, “Oh, he likes ‘em, I guess. He just doesn’t want to be bothered with raising them.” She slapped a mosquito off her arm. “It’s getting dark. We’d better go. Kids! Get in the car, we’re leaving.”

Tune in next week for Part 2 of Ride Into the Fog.

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