From Chapter 9…
“You have all the luck,” Kelly said from behind the wheel of her silver Lexus. “I’d take a job on a soap if it were offered to me.”
Kelly would take a job in an adult diaper commercial if it were offered to her, Roxanne thought from the passenger’s seat. The drive back from visiting Kelly’s daughter at school in Santa Barbara, combined with three hours the night before of listening to the kid perform in a student production of experimental opera left Roxanne itching to get out of the car and walk.
Roxanne filled Kelly in on her return visit to Martin’s for girls hair night, plus her subsequent chats with Martin and Stephanie’s surprise visit. “I think Martin’s daughter idolizes me.”
“Which one is this again?”
“The one that looks like him, that was in utero when I started on the show.” Thinking of the six, seven, no—eight—of Martin’s kids, Roxanne added, “I figured out a way to keep them all straight. I break them down into groups.” This earned her another oh-you-childless-woman chortle from Kelly. “Why’s it so funny? That’s how I tackle all my big projects.”
Kelly hooted. “‘Projects’!”
“Yeah. There are the older girls, that’s Group A. Then the three boys are in Group two and the two little ones are in Group C.” Roxanne began to make shell-game shuffling motions to demonstrate her ability to keep track.
“Groups A, two and C?”
“Yeah, you know, girls, boys, apples, oranges, letters, numbers.”
“Hard to beat that logic.”
“It’s when they wander outside the parameters and start to mingle that the system begins to break down.”
Kelly snorted. “Yeah. I’ll bet.”
As she remembered her foray into family life, a small flutter rose up in Roxanne’s stomach, flew around a bit, and then settled. “It was a pleasant diversion, seeing how the other half lives and all,” she said, “but it’s time to get back to my life.” Her flutter took a sudden nose dive. “Whatever that is.”
Sure, she and Kelly were passing through the valley where Martin lived, maybe only twenty minutes away, but Roxanne didn’t have a yen to pop in or anything. She knew very well she was better off in her life of singleness. And she felt the liberating lightness the decision brought, and nothing was going to interfere with that.
If Kelly proved wise, and Martin proved ready for a woman again, Roxanne would stay far the hell away from that whole scene. It had taken her years to blot out the embarrassment of her secret crush on him. Why set herself up to wipe out all that progress by watching him fall in love with someone else? Why set herself up to feel sorry for herself?
Kelly prepared to take the turn-off to the farmers market. “Are you sure this is the right place?”
Roxanne adjusted her braided raffia hat so that it sat steadily on her head. “Positive. I used to shop here all the time. Believe me, it is worth the stop.”
She distinctly recalled one of the best tomatoes she’d ever laid lips on, a deep, inky purple with a single green stripe down one ridge. And some people thought she had issues with food.
“I hope they have green globe artichokes. I’ve been craving them.”
“Craving?” Kelly said, her voice going up with innuendo as they rounded the curve of the exit ramp.
“Not pickles-and-ice cream kind of craving. Just, you know, craving.” Roxanne paused as her mind free-associated for a minute. “She was so funny that day. Stephanie. She wanted me to pull out my wedding dress.”
“What?” Kelly said. One animal print stiletto pounced on the brake pedal, right in the middle of the turn. The sudden stop sent the two women lurching. “You still have that thing?”
Reeling back, Roxanne nodded.
“In God’s name, why?”
Roxanne did a palms-up. “What am I supposed to do? Saddle some poor, unsuspecting bride-to-be with my bad luck?” The flutter in her gut started up again. “I’m doing a service to womankind, holding on to that gown.”
“Womankind, my sagging rear. You have to think of you. That gown is not doing you any good sitting in your closet, leaking bad juju into your life.”
Not looking at her, Roxanne reasoned away her friend’s bitchy, bad mood. Kelly was just upset to leave her baby at school. Roxanne, however, was in a fabulous mood, and content to laze away the afternoon letting the breeze from the open window riffle through her blouse. It was one of her favorites, a snowy, gauzy white peasant style that made her feel sweet and light and desirable. Usually, she wore it when she felt none of those things and needed a lift. But today it matched the way she felt, and she saw no reason to spoil that by talking about old, bad times. She’d had enough going over old times lately.
“Look, it’s such a pretty day,” she said. “Can’t we just shop for artichokes?”
But Kelly let the silent treatment speak for her while she parked in the lot and opened the car door.
“Stop believing in your own bad luck,” she then said tersely, giving the door a slam.
Great. This was the thanks Roxanne got for filling in this weekend for Herbie, who’d stayed home conveniently zonked on painkillers after throwing his back out while hauling a sack of chicken grit, therefore causing him to avoid having to sit through his daughter the opera theater major’s winter quarter production of Scenes from the World’s Longest Operas.
No wonder Martin couldn’t come up with any good plots. They’d all been done before. At the opera, there’d been the usual betrayals, unrequited loves, tragic misunderstandings, and lost-long babies. Ho-hum. And thought there’d been no multiple personalities, Roxanne counted at least one switched identity or two.
She got out of the car and stretched. “I don’t know about your sagging rear, but mine is still smarts from sitting through three hours of Der Blunderbuss last night.”
“It’s Die Fledermaus, and it was only forty-five minutes.”
“You owe me artichokes.”
As they made their way toward the canopies fluttering under the sun-filled sky, they passed a pet shop window. “Oh, look. Parrots!” Roxanne stopped to peek in the window, wondering if they had any in pink like the one Martin had at home.
Copyright 2015 by Karen Tomsovic
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