First of all, I want to thank everyone who has ordered Nocturnal Origins. I hope you’re enjoying it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I won’t lie and say sales don’t matter. They do, and for a number of reasons. Not only do they help put money in my pocket — always nice. After all, coffee — that elixir of life — does cost. But sales will also determine if I get to write the sequel that has been demanding to be given life.
In the meantime, I’ve been going through my files to see if anything calls to me to be written and came across this. Hope you like it.
Skeletons in the Closet
In the Beginning. . . .
All my life, my mama’s tried to raise me to be a proper lady. No, that’s not quite right. She’s tried to raise me to be a proper SOUTHERN lady, full of refinement and grace, dressed in lace and delicate pastels. To hear her talk, it’s been a futile effort that’s caused her more than her fair share of gray hair. And, where the lace and pastels are concerned, she’s right. Still, she’s managed to get me to say, “yes, ma’am,” and “no, sir”. For the most part, I’m respectful of my elders, even when they don’t deserve it. I even wear clean underwear whenever I leave the house – usually without any extraneous holes in it – because Mama is convinced some rampaging bus will find me and strike me down, necessitating a trip to the emergency room.
I swear, I think it’s her life’s dream that it will actually happen. You see, in her world, a trip to the ER has only one ending. The handsome, rich and oh-so-conveniently single doctor who saves my life will fall madly in love with me. What she seems to forget is that in a bus vs. me battle, the bus will always win. So, unless the doctor is also a re-animator, he’d be falling for a corpse and, well, ewwwwww!
Besides, having somehow managed to survive a close encounter of the nearly fatal kind, the last thing I’d be interested in is finding a man to settle down and raise a passel of kids with. Not that it would deter Mama one little bit. Hell, she’d probably arrive at the ER with her minister firmly in tow, a marriage license burning a hole in her hand bag, all ready to fill in the blanks and make me a married woman.
In case you haven’t figured it out yet, my mama rarely lets reality interfere with her plans.
Don’t get me wrong. I can usually deal with Mama’s plans and manipulations. I’ve spent a lifetime figuring out how. All I have to do is make sure I look both ways before crossing the street. Of course, the odds of a bus hitting me here in Misty Creek are about as good as the odds of Hell freezing over. So I figure I’m safe – at least for the time being.
Knock on wood.
Because sure as my name’s Lexie Smithson, the minute I get married and move out, Mama will be packing her bags to join me. It won’t matter if I want her to or not. All she’d care about is finally being able to get away from Papa and the rest of the family. It wouldn’t even matter that I’m the least favorite of her kids. Like I said, reality rarely interferes with my mama’s plans.
Of course, I am an ungrateful and unobliging child. I’ve no more found a bus to hit me than I’ve been able to keep the family skeletons in the closet. The former I have no control over and the latter, well, I swear I don’t mean to let them out. At least not usually. It’s just that they make so much noise, what with all their moaning and the rattling of their bones. Sometimes I just can’t help it.
It doesn’t help that it always seems to happen at the worst possible time. Like when Mama’s women’s group was meeting in our parlor last Sunday after church. Mama had just served the iced tea and lemon pound cake. She’d even managed to make the house smell more like a garden than a funeral parlor. Everything had been as close to perfect as was ever possible in our place.
Then Aunt Minnie decided she just had to join in on the fun.
Now I ask you, was it my fault she wanted to be a part of the meeting? She’d been a member of that women’s group since the very first meeting more than twenty years ago. Everyone there knew her. Just as Mama knew she was there – how could you forget? Besides, all Aunt Minnie had wanted was to find out what the no-account scoundrel of an ex-husband of hers had been doing with the new church secretary. Really.
I swear, those women sure did over-react when Aunt Minnie rattled in and sat on the settee next to Miss Pearl. You’d have thought Miss Pearl had seen a ghost the way she shrieked and then fainted dead away. Okay, maybe Aunt Minnie smelled a bit. But we’d buried her in her best Sunday-go-to-meeting dress and it was just as pretty that afternoon as it had been at her funeral six months ago. Mr. Perez, the local undertaker, had even been by just the day before to give Aunt Minnie one of her treatments. So she looked pretty much like she had before she passed. Sure, her skin sagged a bit more than it used to and she had a slightly yellow tinge, but that was all. Really.
Besides, old Missus McIntyre was wearing enough lilac scent to cover the smell.
I’m here to tell you, those ladies scattered like dandelion parachutes in a strong wind. It took me more than an hour to calm poor Aunt Minnie and coax her back into her closet. I don’t know if she’ll ever come out again and that’s a darned shame. She always was the best at gossiping and, honestly, there’s not much else to do in this backwater town on a cold Sunday afternoon – or just about any other time, come to think of it.
Now Mama, well, she was beside herself with frustration, indignation and mortification. Even as she swept up the last of the lemon pound cake from the carpet where Mary Beth Tully dropped it on her mad dash for freedom, she blamed me. Mama swears I do things like this solely to embarrass her. I’m the ungrateful child, you see, not perfect like my sister Patty and certainly not important like my brother Brett, also known as Bubba – which he just happens to be.
No, I’m too much like my granny, the bane of my mama’s existence even now, ten years after she drew her last breath. Mind you, Granny might have passed but, like Aunt Minnie, she didn’t pass on.
Maybe I ought to explain. My family’s never been what you might call “normal”. We’ve had more than our fair share of oddballs and loners and crazy cat ladies. Most families in Misty Creek do. But things took a decidedly sharp turn to the left of weird the day Perfect Patty came home complaining about how Old Lady Serena had given her the evil eye.
Nothing’s been the same since.