Monday, May 3, 2010
Little Fish, Small Town (Mag 12)
The small-town girl grown to jaded woman twirls the blown glass memory in her hands. Like a rubbing a lantern to produce the genie with three wishes, staring into the moving glass trinket transports Lauralye to another time and place. The only time and place that allowed her respite from this two-traffic stop town. A spring long ago.
It’s May of 1999 and Lauralye was the only daughter of THE Hoods, as in the white-trash-on-the-wrong-side-of-the-tracks Hoods of Petitville. The raven-haired beauty had a plan to take her away from this small town and the even smaller minds determined to keep her here and in her place. Once she was out of here, it would be forever, even if that meant saying goodbye to Marshall Goldun, heir to Goldun Enterprises, the company that owned the town and her father’s soul. She wanted Marshall and the life he had, but not enough to delude herself that it would ever be allowed in this town with its modern, American caste system. No, Lauralye had a careful, thorough escape plan that did not include the Goldun Boy.
For the past two and a half years, Lauralye had worked at the local Dairy Cream every weekend, walking the 3.17 miles each way, come hell or high water. If she intended to flee this place, the plan did not include wasting money on gas, insurance payments, and upkeep on the crappy car her wages would allow her to have. She could endure anything or pay any price, knowing it would be the ticket out of this hell-hole. For that reason she put up with the out-dated, polyester uniforms of the Dairy Cream Darlins, the taunts and catcalls from Petitville’s Pretty People, and especially the humiliation of having him witness her degradation from his friends without his saying one damn thing to stop it.
But through it all, this dreamer held onto to the plan and ultimately onto nearly $10,000. Luckily Duke Hood, her father the sell-out and local drunk, was just ignorant enough with his 7th-grade education not to realize that she made enough money to help out with things around the house, while stock-piling every other dollar that would get her out of Duke’s house and this town’s smallness, both which conspired to keep her in Petitville.
Just four months earlier Lauralye sent off for her passport and all necessary travel papers to live and work in Paris. Just yesterday she bought her ticket and received confirmation for bed space at an “affordable” youth hostel in Montmartre, home of Sacre Coeur. In exactly 21 days, Lauralye would graduate from Petitville High and in 22 days she would forever shake the dust of this place from her heels. In 22 days, her life would begin, but not before she had said a proper good-bye to her Goldun Boy.
For two years, no matter how much her heart and physical yearnings begged for Marshall’s total embrace, she had always managed to pull away in time before she crossed a line that could not be uncrossed. It was one thing to be white trash and the daughter of the town drunk, but it was another to be the town whore. She made sure that line was never crossed, until tonight. Lauralye had always wanted the satisfaction of Marshall being the one to take her innocence and with graduation a week away, tonight would be the night. She could not risk losing the only chance of escape, the night of graduation when her parents would not be looking for her to be home early. If she were going give Marshall a proper farewell, it was tonight or never. At the end of the date, on the way back to her house, Lauralye convinced him to stop at Flower Bluff, a secluded rendezvous point for amorous couples. That night under the light of a crescent moon, Lauralye said goodbye to her childhood and to the one person who could imprison her to life in this small town.
Eight weeks later, the newly freed spirit now wandered the streets of Paris, drank “un express” every morning, and worked in a local brasserie owned by a very kind and generous woman. Lauralye was poorer than an English church mouse, but she had never been happier and never had as much. On a rare day off, she went exploring at Les Puces de Saint-Ouen or the flea markets of Porte de Clignancourt. Lauralye, unable to afford anything frivolous, loved just being among the thousands of items, each with its own history, some with stories literally centuries old. As she wandered among the priceless treasures, something caught her eye. A glass sphere with a shocking splash of red. Upon closer inspection, Lauralye realized that objet d’arte was hand blown class with a coral and fish scene inside. She was instantly drawn to the story created inside. She was the fish, but that was no coral. It was the angry hand of small-minded people trying to drag her back to a place that would surely be a death sentence for her soul. She had to have this treasure and the 210 Francs it cost meant she would do without dinner tonight. That was okay; she wasn’t feeling that well anyway. She had a stomach virus that had been hanging around for a couple of weeks now.
Several more weeks later in August, all of Paris seemed to be closed down as most Parisians escaped the heat and crowds of the city. Lauralye enjoyed this time feeling as if she had a bit more of the city to herself. However, she wished, she could enjoy it more. That stomach virus just kept hanging on. Her nagging “French Maman” convinced her to visit the family doctor. Frankly, Lauralye was ready to see him in hopes of obtaining a prescription to end the discomfort so as to continue the Parisian Adventure without a constant wave of nausea.
After a thorough exam, the doctor came back to the room with a smile, which could only mean good news; Lauralye had been worried she might have IBS or maybe even an ulcer from those oppressive years in Petitville. In a heavily accented English, Monsieur Doctor Mauvais gave the nervous patient the results. “Everyzeeng eez okay. Dees leedle tummy zeeng weel clear up in six mois, ummm, six monts. Félicitations, Mademoiselle, you weel be a mozhur soon!”
“Whaaat? I will be a what soon? A mother? I’m pregnant?” Lauralye cried out as she nearly fainted from the shock and from her growing condition. In an instant, her Great Escape and Parisian Adventure had come to a screeching halt. The ever-reaching hand of Petitville had managed to find the happy fugitive, across an entire ocean, securing her in its grasp. The small town and the small mindedness had won in the end…
“Mom! Where are you? I need the keys to the car. My shift at the Dairy Cream starts in 15 minutes and I am running late!” Lauralye is instantly dragged back to the present. Shaken out of her reverie by her daughter's shrill voice, she puts her fragile memory back onto the shelf; it will still be waiting for her when she comes back to visit. She always does. But now she needs to get ready to return back to work. She had let too much time pass on her lunch break. She had to get back to her shift as the restaurant manager at the Dairy Cream. But a single mom without a college education can’t be too picky in this town. Luckily she only had 3.17 miles to drive to get there.
Lauralye calls across the house, “Paris, don’t get your knickers in a twist! I’m working a double today. You can ride with me tonight.” As she leaves the room she glances back at the blown-glass sphere and whispers, “All the little fish ever wanted was to live a peaceful life in the great big ocean. Now all she has is this bracken pond.”
Story inspired by the Magpie Tales.