A Stranger Says Goodbye


Five foot two, give or take a quarter-inch, hazel eyes, milk chocolate hair tucked neatly behind elf sized ears,  moon shaped face and shoulders too large for a woman and too small for Martinville’s Women’s Varsity Football Team, Amanda Coxx stared at a reflection of herself staring back at herself from the oil smudged mirror in the woman’s bathroom of the Gas & Go on 52nd and Pine.

There was a time, at least she thought there had been a time, when she could have said, with all certainty of heart, that she knew the woman in the stainless steel reflection. A time when she could have narrated each and every scar, tattoo, and sunspotted memory with bard-like eloquence until the listener was as familiar with the heroine of the story as the one doing the telling. The kind of narration that is only possible because one has lived, breathed and been immersed in the souls of the other for so long, it is nearly impossible to tell where the one begins and the other ends.

Now she stared at the image staring back at her wondering just who in the hell gave this blurred imitation of herself the right to wear her mother’s pearls, the half carat sapphire studded heirloom on the fourth digit of her right hand or that haughty “Don’t you think I’m beautiful?” mask she’d taken off and locked away in the bottom of a trunk more than three years ago.  The key of which never left the chain no longer suspended around her neck.

Suddenly Amanda was reminded of an old Paul McCartney song, ‘You Say Goodbye, I Say Hello’.

‘God, where did that come from?’ the image mouthed. ‘You would think, with all the shit going down lately, you’d be happy to see me.’

‘Happy to see you?’ Amanda mouthed back. ‘Are you delusional? When have I ever been happy to see you?’

The oil smudged imitation of herself smiled, showing teeth that had once been Hollywood white, but now showed signs of too much coffee and not enough cosmetic enhancement.

‘Can I help it if your writing couldn’t get published on the back of a milk carton?’

Perched on the ledge of a Borax scarred porcelain sink, the beaded clutch helped Amanda stay grounded in the reality of why she was standing here, instead of seated at table #8 of the Woman’s Fiftieth Literary Awards. Reaching out she unsnapped it’s clasp, withdrew the palm sized gun and breathed a sigh of relief as its weight settled into her hand.

Amanda’s eyes flicked upward, all signs of witty humor gone.

‘You’re right. If left to my imagination we would still be married, carpooling our children by eight and meeting our friends at the gym by eight thirty-five.’

‘It’s not my fault Gerry couldn’t handle the success.’

‘No. But it is your fault that he found us naked in another man’s bed.’

‘I was doing research for, Christ’ sake. We needed a steamy sex scene, and lets face it, Gerry was no one’s idea of steamy.’

‘Maybe not yours, but he sure as hell was mine.’

‘Really? I didn’t see you closing your eyes while I did the research.’

Amanda had no answer except to raise the gun and place it beneath her chin. ‘None of that really matters anymore. You’ve ruined our lives and now it’s time to say goodbye.’

Before the image in the mirror could respond, burgundy colored grey matter splatter the ceiling and walls to the left and directly behind micro-seconds before author Amanda Coxx’s silk clad body slumped to the floor.

**********

With a left click of the mouse, Carrie did a ‘cut and paste’, transferred the contents of her prompt to a Word doc., swore when she saw it contained more than the allotted 500 words, then hit print. There was no time for edits and if she didn’t get going, she’d be late for her writer’s group.

SSpjut

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