Ruth Z. Deming, winner of a Leeway Grant for Women Artists, has had her work published in lit mags including Hektoen International, Creative Nonfiction, Haggard and Halloo, and Literary Yard. A psychotherapist and mental health advocate, she runs New Directions Support Group for people with depression, bipolar disorder, and their loved ones. Viewwww.newdirectionssupport.org. She runs a weekly writers' group in the comfy home of one of our talented writers. She lives in Willow Grove, a suburb of Philadelphia. Her blog is www.ruthzdeming.blogspot.com.
RED HIGH HEELS
Meredith and Peter were watching the original Hawaii Five-O on his upstairs TV in his blue bedroom. They each had their own pillow. His had cost an unbelievable $250 at a mattress store, while hers cost $20 at Kohl’s. She had tested it out on the dusty floor by the men’s ties.
“Always a beautiful day in Hawaii,” said Peter.
“Maybe the two of us could go visit,” said Meredith, knowing the answer.
“You know me, kid,” he said. “I don’t want to go anywhere except Cape May.”
“It would really be fun living somewhere else,” she said.
“Don’t you love your yellow house and living next door to the man in your life?”
“Of course I do,” she said, snuggling against his gorgeous hairy chest.
After she went home, she began to plan what to do. She would show him. As she walked to the compost heap they shared, her thoughts cascaded as she poured out the contents of the yellow pitcher: chicken bones, egg shells with bits of white still inside, the ends of zucchini, apple cores.
Did she love Peter? She supposed she did, but it was hard to really know. He was certainly good to her. For her most recent birthday – she was twenty-six – he bought her the complete short stories of John O’Hara with a black and white cover showing O’Hara as a man with big ears and wearing a banker’s suit.
She pulled out a suitcase with wheels from her basement, sneezing from the dust. She packed lightly for she would only stay a couple of days and decide if she wanted to move to Vermont, where her college alma mater, Goddard, was spread out on acres and acres of what was once farmland. She’d stay in Kilpatrick Dorm, for a small fee.
Her biggest decision was what books to bring. Her father had given her “Random House’s Best Sports Stories” and her mom, a pair of yellow silky pajamas with her initials MLL monogrammed on her breast. Peter loved it.
A day later, she was in the living room pacing back and forth when she heard the horn. There it was, “Dave’s Limo” pulling into her drive. Peter was at work so there would be no tearful goodbyes. She wheeled her red checkered suitcase onto the porch steps and the driver hefted it inside.
Most of the December snow had melted.
Five hours later, she was aboard a small plane heading for the Plainfield, Vermont airport. Her tray was down and she was sipping on a ginger ale to settle her stomach. She returned the unopened foil pack of almonds to the flight attendant, Neil.
Her book slid off the tray with a thud. The plane careened back and forth. The pilot announced, “We’re having some turbulence. Please put your trays up and buckle your seat belts. Nothing to worry about.”
Meredith looked out the window and remembered the green meadows of Vermont. A blonde, she and her friend Wendy had once sunbathed in the raw one gorgeous summer day, bringing with them Italian hoagies from the country store and Tastykake Krimpets.
Everything was now covered with sparkling white snow with iridescent crystals. What a great decision she had made.
The speaker above her head crackled with static for several moments as the plane seemed to plummet downward toward the snow and ice.
There was no doubt about it. The plane was about to crash.
Involuntarily, screams poured forth from the passengers, herself included. Her blue earrings shot out of her ears and luggage from the overhead compartments spilled onto the passengers.
More screams and then silence.
The plane came to a stop like a dead bird in the Arctic. Meredith looked around. The old lady next to her lay on the floor of the plane in a bath of blood. Her mouth was wide open with fear as if she were watching a horror movie.
Meredith cleared her throat. “Is anyone alive?” she called. “Hello! Hello!”
The pilot must be alive, she thought, but the roof of the plane was squashed down like a toy bucket.
She knew from movies and TV shows that she must move as far away from the plane as she could, lest it blow up.
She spilled out the emergency door, but stuck her head back inside. “Please! Please! Somebody answer me!” she called. She crawled back in on her aching knees and saw the kitchen was right there. She helped herself to all the packets of nuts and crackers that could fit into her coat pockets. Plus a cup of hot coffee in a plastic cup.
She wore Pantyhose and red high heels, the perfect thing, she thought, for wandering around in the snow.
She caught her breath away from the plane and sipped on the hot coffee, which helped clear her head.
Suddenly an orange fire ball bright as the sun filled the air. Meredith held her ears. For sure, now, everyone was dead. Pulverized as if they were in a blender making a chocolate milkshake. Her eyes filled with tears.
Her red high heels dug into the snow as she looked toward the sky. Clouds were skittering to the left, the west. She brushed away thoughts about how she and Peter had sat on her screened-in back porch and made shapes of them – a lonely camel, a snowman with a scarf on, and a dog scampering across the sky.
In fact, was it her imagination or was that a real dog barking – or was it a wolf come to eat her alive?
A huge white dog ran up to her and jumped on her coat. She held out her hands and let him lick her.
She was saved.
The two of them trotted toward a farmhouse, where he lived.
“Barney,” said his master. “Who have we got here?”
“Meredith,” she answered. “I was on the plane that crashed a little while ago. Did you hear it?”
“Sure did. You’d have to be stone deaf not to have heard it!”
She refused to be hospitalized and persuaded the farmer and his wife to put her up for the night. She also refused to take a plane back home.
Peter drove up in his black Honda Fit.
Now she was sure she loved him.
“Satisfied?” he asked.
“Not really,” she said. “But it’ll do for a start.”