Copyright (c) Martin Hanley 1/29/2014
Tired, frozen and feeling more than sorry for herself, Promise Decarbonnet’s mood finally lifted as she turned the corner of Elmwood and Vine. Although last night’s gig at the Merry Monk hung over her like a dark cloud she was happy to be within walking distance of her family home. She was a self-confessed groupie, an addict, she loved the buzz that bands gave her, but lately it was starting to wear a little. Hazy images from the after party blurred and merged reminding her of other drug fuelled nights, other guitarists and other bands. This litany of stinging memories hounded her along the icy pavement as the busy morning traffic sped past.
The jeep’s driver, a teacher in her mid- thirties was also having a particularly bad morning. Pam Lauper had slept in and was late for work for the first time in her life. She’d rushed out her front door coffee in hand without her make-up done and now midway down Vine she was attempting the near impossible. A natural-born control freak she felt confident she could touch her eye make-up, get her coffee fix in and control the Cherokee’s steering with her knees. Murphy’s law kicked in as the jeep hit a patch of black ice and skidded a little. A panicked Pam dropped her eye liner and grabbed the steering wheel, knocking the coffee over. Anyone else would have taken heed, pulled over and focused on the poor driving conditions but Pam was late and she needed her damn eyeliner.
A hundred yards down the road Promise was focused on getting home, getting into a hot shower and then into bed. The wind shifted catching her shoulder length hair and whipping it across her face. As she brushed a strand out of her eye her right heel slipped on a sliver of ice and she lost her balance. Before she could stop herself she’d stumbled off the kerb into the middle of the road. In the jeep Cherokee a shocked and wide-eyed Pam raised her head to see a young woman standing directly in front of her. Hitting the brake hard she swerved but the jeep’s semi bald tires lost traction sending it into a wild three sixty tail spin. All Promise could do was stand frozen still and watch as it whizzed by her face before finally shuddering to a halt on the far side of the road. Several rubberneckers slowed to a crawl and blew their horns. Pam’s window slowly slid down and the two women’s eyes met. The exasperated teacher lost her cool and roared “Hey dumb ass! Are you trying to get yourself killed! Despite the irony of the situation all Promise could do was hang her head until Pam’s rage had dissipated. Snowflakes melted on her rosy cheeks as the jeeps engine roared into life again and sped off. Promise was relieved to be alive; to have been given a second chance. She was a survivor and no matter what else life threw at her, she wouldn’t be beaten by it. Head down she shuffled on towards her parent’s house as the wind picked up sending a flurry of snowflakes that failed to lodge. Last few steps along the gravel drive, front door locked behind her, she could finally feel the weekend slip away. She was home, the heating was on and the house was silent.
Kicking her saturated boots off, she headed for the kitchen as her hands were numb from the cold. Testing the waters temperature, she hesitantly held one and then another under the soothing warm water. The pain finally abated and as she dried her hands she noticed a note marked with her name lying on the large kitchen island. Her suspicions confirmed; her parents had flown the coop; headed to Boston for a business dinner and wouldn’t be back until later that night. Promise sighed and crumpled the hastily written note. She was used to last-minute excuses when it came to her parents; her success obsessed parents. As their only child Promise had often found herself alone or with a nanny and over time she’d become accustomed to her own company; she preferred it to excuses, lies and let downs. Running upstairs to her en-suite she stripped off and turned the shower on. She was tall and well-developed for her age yet without the high-heeled boots and the heavy makeup, her mask of twenty something maturity and hard-edged rock chick melted away to reveal an awkward and sheepish looking fifteen year old. The hot water felt good on her skin and she stayed under it until she felt clean again; until her fingertips began to shrivel. Her bedroom was a mess though and her double bed was swamped with her eleventh grade text books. She caught the duvet up and swept them off.
Outside her window it was snowing heavily as she slid into bed. For a moment or two she just lid there and closed her eyes, breathing in the fresh smell of newly washed bed linen. She knew she’d crossed a line that weekend; something was different and although she’d hated his guts earlier that morning; the anger had passed and she now felt a deep yearning for him again. Despite the many disappointments in her life, she needed to know more about Jeff; he felt like the one. She even forgave him for the cold way he’d treated her that morning. She convinced herself things could be different and as she snuggled up beneath her duvet she checked through her mobile contacts for his number.