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Fiction Funny Sad

All Winnie wanted was one night to herself. Work had been hectic all week, and it was finally Friday night. She had a date lined up, too, one she could not, would not miss. It was with the old movie channel and a carton of chocolate ice cream. 

She showered, changed into her favorite, cozy, pink unicorn pajamas, got the ice cream and a tablespoon, settled into her big, soft couch, and turned on the television. 

Punching in the numbers for the right station, she was pleased to see one of her favorites was just starting. Peeling the lid off the ice cream, getting ready to deposit the first spoonful into her mouth, she heard a terrible sound. 

Her phone was ringing. 

It was actually ringing, who did that? Just send a text, how incredibly rude. After fishing her phone from her purse, she recognized the number. It was Kelly, from work, and Winnie knew she should answer, she really did. All hell could be breaking loose. 

It was. “THE BATHROOM IS FLOODING!” Kelly screamed into the phone. 

Winnie held the phone under a throw pillow and swore like a sailor. After taking a deep breath, she put it back up to her now-throbbing head. “What happened?”

“A pipe, like, exploded!”

“Is water going out into the rest of the bar?”

“Not yet,” Kelly whined. 

“Where’s Brent?” He managed the place at night. 

“I’m not sure.”

“Get Diego, he knows all about plumbing, he’ll know where to turn off the water.”

“Hold on!”

She could then hear Kelly rushing around, asking people if they’d seen Brent, then trying to cajole Diego to step from behind the bar and go in search of a shut off valve. 

This went on for thirty minutes. After just ten, Winnie put the rapidly melting ice cream away, and was now standing over her kitchen sink, eating cheese puffs. 

“Hey!” Kelly said, finally speaking directly to Winnie. “Water’s off in the men’s room, I found Brent out in the parking lot fighting with his ex-wife, and he says we can stay open.”

“Okay, that’s great,” Winnie sighed. “Are you working Monday?”

“I am, now I gotta go mop. Thanks, Winwin!” 

Winnie sneered at her phone as she disconnected the call first, and wondered what would happen if she put it down the garbage disposal. Probably a bad idea. 

She grabbed a diet soda, took two pain pills, and stared at the wall for a moment. A new job might be in order. 

Then she heard a sound that was initially completely foreign to her ears. Ringing, two notes, one high, the next low. It repeated, not once, not twice, but three times. 

It was her doorbell, someone was actually ringing her doorbell. When was the last time that happened? She looked at the clock on the stove. Nine-thirty, who on earth had the audacity to ring her doorbell at nine-thirty?

She went to answer, but stopped. It could be some total psycho. How many horror movies started out exactly this way? Winnie grabbed the aluminum ball bat she kept behind the secretary bookcase just by the door. Her ex had left the bat behind when he moved out. He was just the type to have aluminum instead of wood. 

Flipping on the porch light, and looking out the little fan-shaped window at the top of her door, Winnie saw the scraggly-haired head of her neighbor, Karen. She swore the woman didn’t own a comb. 

She opened the door, and there she was in her Target chic outfit of a striped top, cropped jeans, and down-filled vest. “Already in your jimjams?” Karen asked snidely. 

“I’m tired, I’ve had a long week.”

“Whoa! What’s the ball bat for?” Winnie now had it resting on her shoulder. 

“It’s late, I wasn’t sure who it was out here.”

“It’s just me,” Karen said dully. “Anywho, you know an old lady, drives a burgundy minivan?”

“Yeah, my aunt Betty. Why?”

“She was poking around, and left a box by your back door. I was going to call the cops on her, but Doug said not to.”

“Well, thanks. She is almost 80 years old, so she’s no threat.”

Karen kept standing there. “Wonder what’s in it?” Then she wagged her eyebrows. 

“I’ll let you know,” Winnie said, closing the door on her. She could hear Karen say, “Hey!” and Winnie realized she probably should have thanked her. 

Oh well. 

After putting the bat away, Winnie went back through the dining room and kitchen, and opened the back door. There on the deck was a flat cardboard box, wrapped in brown paper. She brought it in, and saw Aunt Betty had written her name in the corner in black marker, Gwendolyn. 

Now knowing Aunt Betty, it could be anything. Old magazines, a priceless VanGogh she found at a garage sale, a ten foot scarf she crocheted. Despite her misgivings, Winnie ripped into it like a kid on Christmas morning. 

Past the brown paper, three layers of packing tape, and a delicate wrapping of white tissue paper, was a dress. Winnie pulled it out, held it up to herself, breathless. Peach, diaphanous fabric and lace trim made up the prairie style gown, obviously from the 1970s. 

Glad she hadn’t sent her phone down into the city sewer in pieces, she called her Aunt Betty. The old gal never went to bed until two in the morning. She answered her  landline with a cheery, “Yellow!”

“Hey, Aunt Betty. It’s Gwendolyn.”

“You found the dress?”

“I did.”

“It was your mom’s. Found it upstairs in the junk room. Cleaning things up, you know?” That’d be the day that when she cleaned out that ramshackle farmhouse of hers. 

“Did she wear it to prom?”

“She wore it in my wedding. To Chuck.” Chuck had been gone a long time, Winnie’s mom even longer. 

She didn’t want to think about that. 

“It’s in excellent shape,” Winnie said, sitting on the couch once more, but still clutching the dress to her chest. 

“Don’t just stick it in the closet, Gwendolyn. Wear it.”

“When? Where?”

“Whatcha doin’ right now?”

“I’ve been trying all night to watch a movie and eat ice cream,” Winnie laughed. 

“Sounds like something your mom would do. So put it on. It’d be a way to feel close to her. Or am I crazy?” 

“No, you’re actually the sanest person I know.”

“Wanna go to lunch next week? Somewhere that we can absolutely stuff ourselves?”

“I’d love that,” Winnie said. 

“Good night. Enjoy your movie, kid.”

So Winnie did as she was told. She slipped out of the unicorn pajamas, put on the dress, which somehow fit, and resumed her plans, just in time to see Joan Crawford shoot Van Heflin. 

“Good for her,” Winnie said to herself.  

Now that was something her mom would’ve said, and Winnie had to laugh. 

The night had turned out perfect after all. 

July 27, 2021 06:34

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2 comments

Janey Gale
05:12 Jul 28, 2021

Funny, then moving.

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Thomas Blaine
03:41 Jul 28, 2021

Really sweet.

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