Collecting Tears:Chapter 2
This is the second installment of my short story, Collecting Tears. These chapters are mostly rough drafts that I need to revisit and brush up, but I am posting them because they may push me to finish writing the story.
Chapter 2: Sweet Escapes
The spell of the scene was falling away and she was slowly returning to her sad reality. Life had been long but not so long that she was ready to be collecting the rewards that she had feared as a seven year old. Some things didn’t change. In fact, some things only worsened with age. She had always wondered what lay beyond the dusty shroud that separated this existence from the next. Wondering only increased her trepidation.
She clasped her vial tighter, thankful that it offered an alternative to the unknown. In those last moments, she would escape to her own comfortable reality – a lifetime that she had made for herself.
Being frightened caused her to grow angry – she shouldn’t be so fragile at this point in her life. Preparations had been made and carried out and there was no reason to fear now. She caressed the vial once again, needing to return to a place that would bring her joy. Yes, there were tears of joy here too.
She could smell the vegetable gardens that grew in everybody’s backyards. Victory gardens. She hated the fact that she had to spend hours a day weeding the rows of tomatoes, corn, and green beans. “Plant More In ’44” was posted on posters all over down town. When she looked at her broken finger nails full of dirt, she wanted to march along the streets and rip the hateful propaganda from its mocking edifice. Victory indeed. Seventeen and relegated to menial and meaningless labor.
The scent of the tomato leaves did nothing to soothe her mood. The air hung hot and heavy across the night like a wet blanket. She was going crazy with the heat. Even the crickets sounded sluggish outside her window. The moon was hidden causing the darkness to seem suffocating in the summer swelter. She bit her damp pillow case and screamed in frustration.
She could resist it no longer. Standing at the foot of her bed, she removed her night gown and stood naked against the window frame. There was no breeze to cool her skin, but getting the wadded up shift away from her body had made her think she felt cooler. Feeling cooler didn’t remove the stench of the garden that lay beyond her sill leaving her mood still curdled by the heat.
She wasn’t sure how long she had stared out at the stars, being serenaded by soggy crickets, before she noticed a small whisper of a wind playing among the ivy tendrils that grew around her frame. It teased her, calling her to come and play. Why couldn’t she have been a boy, then she could simply step out into the night and enjoy the sweat being dried off of her skin by the small breeze. No sooner had she thought it than she acted on it. Girls had a right to be cool, too.
Her bare feet hit the fresh turned soil that ran clear up to the base of the wall that held her window. She could feel small stones bite softly into her soles but she didn’t care. The sweat that was hidden by night’s dark cloak was being lifted off by gentle tugs of northern winds. It was more than refreshing, it was chilling. A shiver of excitement ran along her spine causing her to toss her hair as if she were a wild mare loosed on a vast prairie.
She took a few more timid steps into the night to taste the forbidden ecstasy of being unclothed in a world of that hid too much. Her fourth step brought her heel down on a ripening tomato. It popped deliciously. The sweet green smell that it released was fresh blood in the tank shark of her mood.
She gave into the desire, running up and down the rows of vegetables stomping tomatoes, throwing ears of corn, and ripping beans from their vines. It was heavenly. She smelled like soup and felt like a silver fox hunting her prey. She tipped her head back towards an invisible moon and yipped, a wild cub on the hunt. Tears flowed down her jaw line, falling to her bare breasts where she eventually trapped one in the crystal tube that hung always in her budding valley.