My name is Shauna Checkley. I live in Regina, Sk. Canada with my family and my 3 cats. I have some mental health and neurological disabilities (too complex to go into lol).
I work at the Public Library in Regina, Sk. I am heavily involved in cat rescue these days lol.
When Minerva looked up from the cup of coffee she was nursing from her front step on that clear, august afternoon and saw a car pull over and an overweight woman spill out and begin wildly plucking flowers from a front yard across the street, she watched dumbfounded. The woman grabbed handfuls of begonias hurriedly, decisively then scrambled back into her car and sped off. Minerva sipped her coffee and wondered. What was that? Trespassing? Vandalism? Stealing beauty? It struck her as mildly comical at the least.
Minerva went back inside to get a refill, lightly chuckling. Though she had promised herself for quite some time to cut down on her caffeine intake, she knew now just wasn’t the time. She was enjoying her coffee and the idiosyncrasies of both the day and the neighborhood too much right then. It was the long weekend in august. What holiday was that again? Some Queen, or was it a civic holiday? She couldn’t quite remember. But she was enjoying it just the same, right down to the light, licks of wind on her bare, back legs.
As she poured from the coffee pot that had a lip that made a bit of coffee spill each time, Minerva wiped it with her hand as there was nothing else available and said to Aunt Esme, “I just saw a flower theft. Someone pulled up and got out and picked wildly and took off.”
Aunt Esme shook her head. Clucked. Then returned to her project now which was reorganizing the cans in the pantry per their food group, cans of vegetables in the top shelf, cans of pasta in the middle shelf, cans of fish and meat and beans in the third shelf and cans of fruit and miscellaneous in the bottom shelf. “God help anyone who mixes this up again.” Esme croaked.
Esme always had a project going it seemed to Minerva. Polishing. Ironing. Weeding. With that old-school sense of dutiful obligation, she ferreted out what needed to be set right, re-cast again in beauteous delight.
Just when Minerva was about to ask Aunt Esme if she wanted a cup of coffee, Courtney came bounding down the stairs.
“I’m eight years old now so I can go to the pool without an adult,” Courtney announced, her voice a mixture of pride and wonder. She was wearing a neon orange bathing suit.
“Don’t know if you should be going alone in this neighborhood,” Aunt Esme chided
“We’re all going together. Molly and me and Maddy. They’re both eleven.” Courtney said, the tone of triumph still in her voice.
Emerging from the pantry like a cranky mole popping out of a hole, Aunt Esme said, “I suppose then.”
Courtney caroled, “Yeah!”
“But be back for the barbecue at supper time,” Aunt Esme reminded her
“Momma’s gonna come?” Courntey squealed, asked
Esme and Minerva nodded to the hopeful child whose eyes shone like she was seeing a vision. Then Courtney shot out of the house with her beach towel wrapped around her neck, the material loosely dangling on each side of her.
“Poor kid,” Minerva remarked
Esme looked up and nodded. The furrows on her face seemed to deepen, though she said nothing.
Doesn’t surprise me though, Minerva thought, wryly. That Jenny can get away with anything, always has and likely always will. Jenny was her younger neice. But in the extended Appleton clan, she was the unofficial star when it came to glamour, beauty, talent, everything. Minerva was known to be bookish while Great Aunt Esme was considered difficult, if not downright delusional at times. The verdict was still out on Courtney, however. Some called her bratty and stubborn while others thought she was a Jenny-in-the making. Still, their thrown together household was always under scrutiny it seemed.
The House of Appleton Or la Maison de Appleton. Why does everything always sound better in French? Minerva mused. But not for long.
The phone rang. Like a nerve shattering assault from the other side, it seemed to cling in the air. Some days were door bell days but this was a phone day as it hadn’t stopped ringing all morning long and now into the afternoon too.
“Hello?” Minerva queried
“It’s me Andrew. Hey, do you mind if I bring Weston Dobbe to the barbecue? He’s down for the long weekend and we’re kind of hanging out a bit,” Andrew asked
Minerva paused. Weston Dobbe O-M-G! Now there was a blast from the past. Yet what surprised her even more than this person re-emerging was that Andrew had shown the courtesy to ask permission to bring someone to the family barbecue that evening. Since when has Andrew shown that kind of consideration? But Minerva knew that she and Aunt Esme had been drilling it into heads, his included, for long enough for it to finally take root.
“Uhh sure. Of course, Weston can come,” Minerva sputtered
“Great! Hey did Terry ever say if he was coming or not?” Andrew queried
“Oh God, who knows,” Minerva said
Andrew laughed sickly.
“And what about Mel and Jenny and all of them?” he asked
“As far as I know. They say they are coming. All of them really,” Minerva replied
“Okay, then. That’s good. We’ll see you later…Bye,” Andrew said.
“Bye.” Minerva said. But as she laid down the receiver on the land line, the one Aunt Esme refused to cancel, despite numerous cell phones in the house hold, her mind had already taken flight, into a strange nether land of past longing and casual regret. Weston Dobbe.
Minerva saw him in her mind’s eye. Tall and slender and blonde, he went to school with her older brother Andrew but had always seemed set apart from the collection of hard drinking, hockey players Andrew chummed with. Weston did well in school and played several instruments. Quite often, he was the reference point when their mother wanted Andrew to behave or perform. Why can’t you be more like that Weston Dobbe, now he’s a real good kid?
Though Weston wasn’t movie star dreamy like the posters adorning her bedroom wall growing up, he had a soft spoken manner that appealed to her nevertheless. Yet she was careful to cherish this secret in private. For the one time she did tell a friend of her crush she was promptly informed that Weston was a geek and that she was utterly lacking in her taste in men.
Wonder what Weston’s like now? It piqued her curiosity to consider him in his middle age form. Would he be the same old Weston that sometimes had the scraggly blonde hairs on his upper lip, that seemingly lived in his garage as he practiced saxophone and guitar and whatever else?
She then recalled a childhood nugget about Weston. One particularly blustery Regina day, Minerva was peering out her family’s picture window and she saw the Dobbe’s station wagon pull up. The door flew open wildly as it does on the windy prairie and out piled Weston and his Mother, Dolores Dobbe. They began the near impossible task of trying to plaster posters on street poles. They managed to get one poster placed. Yet in a cartoon-like blur the wind whipped the pile of papers out of her hand and away.
The next day Minerva gripped the same pole tightly as the juggernaut wind had still not died down. She was waiting for the school bus. It was all she could do to hang on. Like that old TV show, The Flying Nun, so she felt. She saw the poster Weston and his mother had put up the day before. It was a Missing poster about their black poodle Tobey who had disappeared. Ten dollar reward.
Wonder if they ever found him?
Having finally emerged from the pantry and shut the door, Aunt Esme poured herself a coffee.
“Andrew’s bringing a friend to the barbecue tonight,” Minerva said
“Who, a girl?” Aunt Esme said
“No. An old friend, Weston Dobbe.” Minerva said
“That’s fine,” Aunt Esme said, sounding somewhat disinterested and retiring to the living room to watch TV.
Returning to her front step perch, Minerva was aglow. She sipped her coffee but hardly noticed the taste. Lately, she had been cherishing a fantasy of imagining a whole different life for herself, an exploratory re-examining of all that has been and could be. She considered different paths she could have taken in her life. And now with this addition of Weston to the mix, her mind was ablaze.
What if I would have followed him to a big university down east? But then she remembered that he was hardly aware that she was alive back then. For he was older and followed an older crowd than she did. It was in their youth when three and a half years apart seemed like some near impassible gulf. Yes that’s how it was back then, she knew. Still, she wondered what if rather then playing it safe financially and attending college in town, she had struck out East or somewhere else? Just how would things have been different? Would she be sitting on this creaky old front step right now, witnessing flower thefts and cranky outbursts from her old aunt? Who knows?
She recalled all those years of staying on in the family home, in her old bedroom even, while she studied nights at the college and bar tended part-time during the day. For what? Her Honours degree in English only had her tutoring part-time at a nearby learning academy, where frustrated and reluctant kids came evenings to brush up on their studies. Beyond that, she volunteered at a local cat café. Her life was dismal, if not laughable. What would Weston think? What would she even say to him?
She squirmed on that hard, creaky, old front step. Even though she had some misgivings about her situation, she couldn’t help but dwell on this sudden strange turn of events, this enchanted evening. The world seemed to whirr and blur before her, like a kaleidoscope slowly turning into place. She could feel her system racing. But then she reminded herself that he was likely married or with someone at the very least. Of course, he’d be taken. Just as the old adage had it, the good ones are always gone. Still, it delighted her to toy with her imagination, feel the teasing delight of fantasy just like that cool summer breeze that would gust up and tickle her skin. It was a treat to feel this way. It didn’t happen all that often. She would enjoy it, savour it, much the same as the cup of coffee she held in her hand.
God knows, I’m usually just trying to deal with my baggage. Not just my past, as I found myself doing right now. But with all the guilt and grievances, expectations and negativity, that go with living this life too. Seeing a vast array of shiny, light, pink luggage in her mind’s eye, she thought, I’ve got more baggage to deal with then an uptown Bell Boy. Ah well, at least I know that I’m a girly girl through and through.
Then Aunt Esme burst through the front door. “You’re wanted on the phone,”
Minerva frowned. How many more times is that thing gonna ring today? She carried her empty cup in with her and set it down in the sink then hurried to the land line.
“Hello,” Minerva said
“Hiya Sis,” Terry slurred
Aww shit, Minerva thought. Terry was another older brother and also a telephone drunk that called at impossible hours and times.
“How are ya? So are ya coming to the barbecue?” Minerva ventured
There was a slight pause.
“What barbecue?” Terry said
“The big family summer barbecue tonight, that’s what,” Minerva said
“Nobody told me about it,” Terry whined
“We’ve been talking about it. All of us, for at least the last month,” Minerva insisted
“Nobody told me,” Terry insisted, his tone darkening
“I told you about it a while ago, mentioned it a couple of times in fact,” Minerva assured him.
“Un uhh, no one told me. I was never informed. But I guess that’s how it goes, right?” he said
Terry was adamant. Minerva felt like saying to him, you were likely too drunk to remember, that’s all. But she held her tongue. For she knew it had become an almost family pantomime, the dramatic posturing, especially his slurred insistence, of I wasn’t informed or No one told me. It was almost always Terry, though, sometimes it could be Mel or Jenny too.
“Listen Terry, I mentioned this to you a couple of times. So if you want to come, then come,” Minerva said. She could feel her impatience rising like the heat. But she tried best to hide it in her voice as she didn’t wish to inflame things.
Terry broke into hoarse laughter. “You expect me to drive thirty miles on that kind of notice?”
Aunt Esme threw Minerva a knowing glance. Minerva rolled her eyes. How long is this Kabuki dance going to go on for?
“Lish-shun how do you people expect me to drive when you know my left hand is fucked anyhow?” he slurred
“Terry, phone Andrew okay? Maybe you and him can figure something out,” Miranda said, flatly
“Hmmph,” Terry grunted
“Okay, bye.” Miranda said. She quietly hung up.
“Is he drunk?” Aunt Esme asked, laughed dryly
Picking some lint off her shorts, she wondered if such family rituals, the summer barbecue, the big Christmas and Thanksgiving and Easter meals and get together’s were even really worth it anymore given that their Dad had passed on and that their Mom was now in a care home. She wondered. Hmmm. But then there was still the young ones, the little ones like Courtney who needed such bonding experiences and family time. Yeah that’s right, Courtney needs all the backing she can get, that’s for certain, especially when it comes to this clan.
Well so far it’s only been the damn phone that’s been wearing on me today. She then recalled recent times, full days even, when the whole of creation felt like it was conspiring against her. It included being stymied by autocorrect, then locks that refused to open, latches that wouldn’t give, pins and passwords forgotten, hitting every red light and traffic that didn’t move. The list went on and on. For it was then she felt like life was picking her up like an untidy cat and rubbing her nose in the pee. What could be next even? Really?
She sighed. Then she recalled. The barbecue!
Turning to Aunt Esme, Minerva asked, “How are we doing for tonight? Is there anything you’d like me to do?”
Esme shook her said. “Nope. Salads are made. Watermelon cut up. We’re good to go.”
Minerva smiled. That’s one thing, she thought, gratefully, Aunt Esme likes to take care of things. Thank god. And to think that they predicted doom when I moved into her basement, Minerva mused, Mel and some of the others saying, she’ll end up managing you the very same as a kid, as Courtney. But it never happened. Their prognostications fell flat. The three of them somehow shared that small house without crossing boundaries or enlivening tempers. It was some sort of miracle maybe. But then perhaps God had extended his grace from babies and drunks to even the Appleton clan, who knows?
Feeling a sudden drop in energy which Minerva assumed was likely from both the heat and the excitement of the day, she retired to her room. She laid down on her bed. As there was no air conditioning in that little war time house, she had the fan blaring. I’ll never fall asleep with that racket, she thought. Then she recalled reading in a magazine that the average person spends about six years of their life dreaming. It seemed like a happy gift to her, like a free descent into the magical unknown. So much better, almost a steal, compared to the 10 years the average person stands waiting in line. Ugh.
She closed her eyes. She revelled in the cool licks from the fan. Recalling the flower theft from earlier on, the scene popped in her mind and held. And eventually she felt a faraway lightness overtake her, steal her stealthily away.
Waking up, Minerva felt the curious wonder of someone who hadn’t expected to fall asleep at all. Was I asleep? For how long? But as she climbed off her bed and headed to the kitchen, she knew instantly that she had slept for some time. The light coming in through the kitchen windows was waning. Everyone was gone. The place was empty.
But then Courtney burst through the door.
“It’s about time you get up, sleepy head!” Courtney called
With the door flung wide open, Miranda heard the voices and laughter from outside, the mouth-watering aroma of barbecue that instantly awakened hunger pangs in her. Holy shit, she thought, it’s already time for our gathering!
She followed Courtney half bewildered to the backyard, still surprised that she had slept the afternoon away. Miranda looked about her. Everyone was there. Her Mom and Aunt Esme sitting in lawn chairs and chatting breezily together. Courtney clinging to Jenny, her Mom, as could be expected. Jenny dressed like a nightclub vamp, diva. Andrew and his wife Maureen and their teen age boys, Colter, Cash and Conner who were manning the barbecue right then. Even Terry and his latest girlfriend, Lana or Lara or something like that were mingling. Then she saw him. Holding a cooler and engrossed in a deep conversation with her sister Melanie, Weston Dobbe.
Minerva felt her breath catch. Weston had aged well. His hair was a dark champagne colour and he was tanned and had an almost preternatural youthfulness about him. He was dressed very country club and had an almost Kennedyesque bearing to him.
“Honey! Minnie!” her Mom called to Minerva.
Minerva smiled and joined her Mom and Aunt Esme. Her elderly Mother was wearing a wide brimmed sun hat and shorts, her pale bare legs like plump, white sausages. She took her daughter’s hand.
“Minnie, so good to see you. Andrew brought me here.” her Mother said.
“Glad to see you too. A summer barbecue wouldn’t be the same without you,” Minerva said, bending down to give her Mother a hug.
Conversing with her Mother and Aunt for a while, yet Minerva couldn’t help but let her gaze wander back to Weston and her sister, Mel.
Then Courtney came bounding over and exclaimed, “Momma’s gonna take me swimming tomorrow.” Then she scampered back to Jenny and climbed back onto her lap.
Gee, that’s big of her, Minerva thought, ruefully.
Jenny was Mel’s daughter. Jenny was following a dream of being a night club singer and lived life mainly on the road to pursue it. However, Melanie had refused to become sole caretaker of her granddaughter, Courtney, claiming singing was a foolish waste and that she wished to live her near retirement years in peace, not with a young child that wasn’t her responsibility. That’s when Aunt Esme intervened to scoop up little Courtney and move her into her own home. But Minerva always wondered for the child who seemed to her to be twice or thrice misplaced.
“Who would like a burger!” Cash suddenly exclaimed. His voice had the awkward, squeaky tone of an adolescent.
“We got regular burgers and plant based ones. Just let us know which you’d like.” Conner added
The three teenage boys were acting as hosts, flipping burgers, stacking plates. Colter, the oldest of the trio, acted almost as supervisor of the two younger ones, standing close by and giving cues on cooking.
Aunt Esme stood up and said, “There’s more stuff in the kitchen. Salads and the like. Everyone help yourself.”
Immediately, the guests lined up for their food.
Minerva said to her Mother, “I’ll fill you up a plate Mom and bring it to you.”
“Thank you dear,” her Mother said
Minerva walked over and got in the back of the line. Andrew and Maureen were directly ahead of her but turned around to smile and say hi. It was a fast moving line of course and soon they filed into the kitchen for the rest of the meal that was laid out buffet style on the kitchen table. Potato salad. Tossed salad. Watermelon. A plate of pickles and olives and cut up cheese. A fresh pot of coffee was brewing, though most guests had opted for a can of beer.
There was a light, festive atmosphere.
Mel and Weston were on the other side of the kitchen table filling their respective plates, still engrossed in a conversation that try her best Minerva was wont to decipher. Sounds like investment portfolios or something, Minerva decided.
But then Minerva and Weston made eye contact. He paused and looked at her curiously. Then he speared a pickle and dropped it on his plate. He and Melanie, still conversing, left the kitchen.
Wondering at that empty look, Minerva gulped hard. Does he even remember me? She felt somewhat taken aback.
Minerva left right behind them. She took the plate of food to her mother then went back to get herself one.
Once outside again, she sat on the only available lawn chair which was by Terry and his girlfriend.
“Heya Sis!” Terry slurred. He was blaring drunk and this new girlfriend looked deeply unimpressed. What’s her name again? Minerva racked her brain. Is it Lara or Lana or Laura or what?
“Hi guys,” Minerva said to the both of them.
“Did you see how fucked up my hand is?” Terry said, suddenly and drunkenly thrusting a purplish and swollen palm into her face, nearly causing Minerva to spill her plate.
“My hand is really fucked. And Workers Comp tried to fuck me too. But I wouldn’t let ‘em!” he declared, then broke into his familiar, hoarse, drunken laughter.
Terry then launched into a long account of how he was injured at work, an industrial miscue. Yet as he spoke he peppered the air with curses and sprayed spittle into her face. Why do I have to be seated next to the only drunk here?
Minerva squirmed in her seat. Looking about, she didn’t see any other empty lawn chairs. So she just grunted occasionally in response and ate hurriedly. Fuck! He’s spraying into my food!
Courtney, by now, was clinging onto Jenny’s one leg Koala bear-like, refusing to let go. Can’t Jenny see how bad her kid misses her? But then Minerva self-corrected, maybe I should just mind my own business. Just maybe? Who knows?
Mercifully enough, Andrew wandered over to them and he and Terry began to converse. Thank God, Minerva thought. Terry is the poster boy for the obnoxious drunk.
Minerva was enjoying being outside, however. It was one of those rare, calm prairie evenings sans a wind. The light breeze from earlier on had seemingly disappeared.
Everyone was winding up their meal by now, with only the teenage boys going back for second helpings. The guests were mingling, moving about, chatting. Except for Weston and Mel. They were sitting on the bench on the opposite side of the small backyard, tucked in a corner, still locked into their non-stop conversation.
Minerva studied them hard. Wonder what they’re talking about? She caught little drifts of conversation here and there, remarks about Mel’s lengthy and ever growing bucket list which was unmistakable given her high, fluttery voice that sometimes seemed almost falsetto-like.
“Hey Terry, you remember Weston Dobbe, right?” Andrew asked
“Come say hi.” Andrew said, leading Terry and his girlfriend over to Weston.
Miranda followed behind them.
“Weston, you remember my brother Terry, right? And this is his girlfriend Lara.” Andrew said, by way of introduction.
Weston shot upright. “Sure, sure. Good to see you again Terry,”
“Pleased to meet you Lara,” Weston said.
Terry and Weston shook hands. Then Terry held up his damaged left hand and once again launched into a long winded account of how he injured it recently at work.
Minerva, meanwhile, listened impatiently as Terry droned on, drunkenly slurring his words and once again peppering the air with curses and spittle, groans and grievances. Wish he would shut up, Minerva thought.
Finally, though, Terry came to the end of his tale and announced, “Gonna snag me another beer har har har.” He disappeared inside the house.
Minerva quickly stepped forward and thrust her hand out to Weston. They shook hands.
“And you’re…” Weston faltered
“Minerva. Andrew’s sister,” she said
A look of recognition swept over Weston’s face. “That’s right. Andrew has another sister besides Mel here.”
Weston looked at her and nodded politely. But it was obvious to her that he barely recalled her, just a jumbled blur from the neighborhood past. That’s all. Minerva felt a light tingle of embarrassment and hoped dearly that it didn’t register in a blush.
“Uhh…So how are you these days Weston?” Minerva asked
“Good, good. And you?” he returned
His manner was impeccable as ever, polite, even somewhat refined.
Thrusting his arm around his old school mate, Andrew bragged, “Our boy is a music professor. Teaches cello at the conservatory. Even played on two different occasions for royalty, once for the Queen and once for Prince Charles.”
“Did ya play Purple Haze!” Terry joked, having re-emerged with beer in hand.
Everyone laughed. Especially Weston. There was a round of back slaps, high fives.
Weston was like a returning, conquering hero. Everyone congregated about him, smiling.
The fading sun highlighted the darkened blonde in his hair.
Sipping her beer, Minerva stood and listened as they recounted old times, high school hi-jinks and sports mishaps mainly. Wanting desperately to join in the conversation, Minerva impulsively added, “Hey remember that time you and your Mom put up posters over your missing dog?”
Weston looked at her blankly. Then a darkness slowly registered on his face. Immediately, Minerva regretted the statement she had blurted out.
He paused. Then he said, “That was poor Tobey, I believe…Some nut killed him it turned out. Mom even had to go down to the police station and fill out a report about it.”
There was an awkward pause. Minerva started to say, “I’m so sorry about-“
But Weston interjected with, “No worries. It’s all so long ago.”
“Weston, want another beer?” Andrew offered
“Sure. Then Mel and I are going to go check out that Escape Room.” Weston said
Mel smiled at them as Andrew handed Weston a can of Coors light.
Minerva felt a bolt of surprise. What the heck?
Shaking his head, Andrew observed, “I’m not surprised that those Escape Rooms are flourishing in such chaotic times. It makes sense y’know.”
Everyone nodded in agreement. But Minerva suddenly felt downcast and decided to escape on her own. She went over and rejoined her mom and Aunt Esme who were talking about the best ways to deal with cut worms in the summer. Minerva plunked down on an empty lawn chair beside them.
But she only half listened to their old lady talk about the weather, pesky insects and the outrageous prices now being charged everywhere. From time to time, Minerva stole glances over at Weston and all the others. The happy, celebrated reunion continued, with flashing movie star smiles and furtive glances between Weston and Melanie.
Minerva felt deflated. She tried her best to stay in the spirit of things. Yet as she watched apart from the others, as she saw Weston pairing with Mel, it reminded her of Jacob favouring Rachel over Leah. Like the biggest woman at a clothing swap, so she felt. She suddenly felt very awkward and her life seemed small. Don’t be like that, she chided herself. Yet she knew that she was powerless not to feel that way. Things had always been that way, at school, in the family and the neighborhood. Minerva had always clung to the fringes and edges of their social milieu, solidly in the D group while Mel flitted almost unawares on the A side. Life in the slow lane. Hmm. Time to revise my expectations for the evening, she decided, as it’s not quite turning out how I thought. But then what did I expect, really? Just what?
Still, if things had somehow been different with Weston, she knew. If Weston sported a defeated air, prattled on about a failed relationship and if Mel had not been there to snatch up the spoils, Minerva believed both her present mood and the evening would have been considerably different. At least, that’s the story I keep telling myself, she thought, glumly.
“Catch me Momma!” Courtney called to Jenny who with beer in one hand and a cigarette in the other and a pained expression on her face, reluctantly engaged the child. Jenny wore a black summer dress, a sleeve tattoo with silver bangles and espadrilles made of a rope like material, fetching and dramatic as ever.
Minerva watched as mother and child raced and chased throughout the backyard. Still smarting and in a solidly passive-aggressive mood, Minerva balked at the scene. Typical kid, chooses the glamorous one who abandoned her for the ones who are raising her, namely Esme and I. Courtney will do anything for absentee Mom or even disinterested grandma, Mel, and yet we have to bribe her to get her to eat her peas or wash her ears. Hmmph. But then Minerva caught herself once again. Courtney is just a little kid ecstatic to be with her Momma. That’s all. How can you be so petty as to begrudge a little girl anyhow? That’s not right and you know it!
Minerva threw Aunt Esme a sideways glance. She saw the two matriarchs continue to chat freely and occasionally beam at little Courtney when she ran past them. They aren’t being as small minded as I, Minerva knew and the realization made her blush inwardly. Well, in the spirit of lowered expectations, I think I may just pack it in for the night.
Chugging her can of beer, Minerva then crushed it in her hand and set it on top of a garden gnome and walked into the house. She went to the fridge and spied the last four beer cans in their plastic harness. She snagged them. Fuck y’all, I claim them! She disappeared into her bedroom and shut the door behind her.
Listening to her favourite radio station, downtempo.electronic on Stingray, Minerva quickly stripped, sipped beer and considered all. Perhaps this is all for the best anyhow. I am bare foot. My belly is hanging out. I can be my real self and not pretend to be nice or even to care. She grinned.
Besides, there is no correct life anyhow, she deduced. Life is just as it is, that’s all. There is no real, true or authentic life. It is just the one given to you and that you happen to be in and living at this moment. Anything else you have begun to believe is fiction and fantasy, not fact.
Minerva smiled. She closed her eyes and chugged again as she had enough beer in which to do so. Then she recalled the flower theft scene of earlier that day. In her mind’s eye, she saw the plump derriere in the air and the woman’s wild plucking motions. She laughed. Stealing beauty, yes it surely was just that and the lady was certainly guilty as charged. Busted! But then she decided that we are probably all somewhat guilty of the same offence. Her. Me. All of us. By harbouring this little Weston fantasy, revisiting a long ago, far away, delicious past, I was stealing a little bit of beauty as much as the next one. For certain, she knew.
“Where in the hell is the beer?” Terry whooped. “Can’t a guy with a fucked hand get a beer around here!”
Minerva sat up in bed and listened, amused.
“Shhh!” Aunt Esme scolded. “Shhh! Do you want all the neighbors to hear!”
All fell silent momentarily. Then the buzz of chatter and laughter was rebooted, scattered over the sheltering, august evening sky. It held like a force field.