Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Short Story Mystery

Ride Into the Fog
By Linda Kozar


I held onto the door handle. “Please Kels, don’t go. We could--we could take the kids to the zoo tomorrow. How about it?”

She peeled my hands off the handle and took them in hers. “Marcy, you know you have to work tomorrow. Besides, we’ve already overstayed our welcome with you.”

“But you only got here yesterday. One day, that’s all. It’s nothing.”

She laughed. “Say goodbye to the kids Marcy.”

She opened the door and threw in a diaper bag. The kids surrounded the car, scented with sun and play, glistening hair clinging to their heads. My brow still crinkled in disapproval at her, I stared down at Shay and softened. He was the oldest, the one who’d seen the most. Things a child shouldn’t see.
Tall and thin for his age; he seemed older than seven years, guarded, yet vulnerable. My heart went out to him. “Shay!” I wrapped my arms around him and gave him a big bear squeeze. “Your Aunt Marcy loves you!”

The freckled face smiled back at me. For a moment, he reminded me of Kelsey, the way she used to be. I lifted him up and planted a kiss on his cheek, then turned to the others; Amy, Tammy, the twins Bobby and Trace and the baby, little Marce-- my namesake. I lingered longest with her and nibbled on her tiny ear until she giggled.

“Time to go!” Kelsey ordered.

We fastened seat belts and car seats in her old blue Impala and she leaned in to start the chugging engine off. A gray cloud of noxious smoke from the exhaust blew out. I coughed. Her eyes met mine as if longing to tell me something, mouth moving as if to speak, but nothing.

I broke the silence. “Kels, I. . .”

She interrupted. “I love you Marcy, always have. You are my truest friend in the world. The only one.”

Tears swelled and overflowed my eyes. “I-I love you too.” I reached over to her and pressed a wad of money into her right hand.

“What this for?”

I shrugged. “It’s to help you start a new life, if you chose.” I closed her fist around it with my hands.

With surprising force, she pushed the wad of money back into my hands. “Keep it, Marcy. Keep it! I wo--, I don’t need your money,” she corrected.

“Don’t be proud, Kelsey!” I fired back, annoyed. “You know you’re going to need it! If not for you, then take it for them.” I pointed toward the kids, their tiny faces turned toward us, hanging on every word.

“My answer is NO. And you know how stubborn I am. I don’t need it and I won’t take it from you. Not now. Not ever.” Her features set in stone, I knew it was pointless to argue. Why upset the kids? They’d certainly been through enough.

We fell into each other’s arms and clung, trembling. I spoke what was in my heart. “I’m so sad all this happened to you. I-I wish your life with him had been better, happier.”

Tune in next week for Part 3 of Ride Into the Fog

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