The bright red of the Stop sign brought her out of her thoughts and back into them at the same time. Fifteen years ago, she had sat at a Stop sign, the same bright red that seemed somehow different than any other Stop sign in the universe.
She had decided to give him away. At that moment, in front of that cherry-red sign, she had chosen herself.
It wasn’t that she didn’t think she could be a mother. It was the world, the places and experiences that awaited her, that would be hindered by a child. So she gave him away.
She did see the world, so many cities and beaches and mountains. She saw the sun rise over the Mediterranean Sea and set behind the Himalayas. She had walked the streets of Paris and swam in the oceans of Bali. But her heart was empty of family. Her travels had never brought her to the shores of love again. She had only journeyed that road twice–the man who stole her air whenever his skin touched hers and the baby she gave up when he left her.
Now, sitting here, she saw what she had been missing. Another car had stopped at the four-way. In the car, a woman sat in the passenger seat clearly giving her son a driving lesson. His chestnut hair hung in the eyes he rolled at his mother. Her blonde curls shook as she gestured to the sign and the other cars and her son.
That was what she missed–her son’s first driving lesson and first date and all the other firsts that come with motherhood. Tears trickled down her cheeks as she watched a smile curl up the corners of the boy’s mouth and saw the mother sigh in exasperation.
The stop sign was the same cherry-red as it had been that day. Staring off into the distance, her gaze went through the stop sign and settled on something happening across the street. She had a sudden flash of unease when she quickly snapped back, her skull knocking against the headrest, and ducked as a rock glanced off her windshield, sending a spiderweb of cracks across the glass.
On This Day
By The Clocktower Sunset
The dog kept yipping and jumping back and forth. It wasn’t a big dog by any stretch of the imagination but being on the end of a leash of an unfamiliar person had her in a disobedient kinda mood. Jennifer kept yanking back on the tether belting out short choppy shouts of HEEL! and NO! like a cowboy kicking his spurs into his horse. Jennifer was riled up a bit too at the memory of drunkenly agreeing to “house-sit” for Amy.
She was pissed at herself for putting herself in such an imposition as her house had top tier cable and wifi. Why the hell would she agree to spending the week at Amy’s place with that literal water-closet she called a bathroom? In reality she had been staying at her own place and getting up early to drive across town to inevitably show-up late for work and then having to dash back across town to let that little rat of a dog out for the evening. On top of that, she kept having to think out what her daily activities would be if she was actually staying at Amy’s so she found herself squirting some ketchup down the drain or throwing out some food to make it look like she’d been cooking from the fridge and cupboard. She didn’t want to hurt Amy’s feelings and was starting to wonder if it was worth all the hassle for the luxury of a few extra channels and being able to use her laptop while sitting in bed.
Her attention was suddenly drawn to the maintenance crew across the street. One of the mowers apparently had a rock kicking around inside with its blades. In that second, a piece shot out like a dart and clicked off the windshield of a car at a stop sign with a flash. Jennifer felt the sudden stinging on her face as her head whipped back and everything went dark, the leash dropping from her hands to shield her face a moment too late. The little dog squirted out into traffic with the tether bouncing after him.