When Maven Morrigan slid down from the front seat of her minivan, her pumpkin of a rump caught the duct tape that held the seat together, releasing the broken spring below.
“Damn! Story of my life!” Her last pair of panty hose ruined, another piece of her world fell apart.
Finally Maven worked the wire loose from her skirt, leaving a small hole in the polyester.
A pointed end to the worst day of her life. She’d trundled through every temp agency in the county in search of a paycheck. Even the teenage manager at Burger Haven shrugged and glanced at the semi-retired folks serving up the fat of the land. Nobody wanted a middle-aged ex-teacher when ex-CEOs were available.
She rolled her eyes in disgust. Through a break in the clouds, the evening star perched bright above the crescent moon, a spot of beauty ending an ugly day.
“Star light, star bright
First star I see tonight
Wish I may, wish I might
Have the wish I wish tonight.”
Shivering on the asphalt, she discarded one wish after another. A golden SUV and a ripped personal trainer? A fire, chocolate and one enormous chair? A ticket into the witness protection program?
Wishing! Waste of time. She stomped to her door. If wishes were Harleys, she’d still have to put gas in them. No point in making believe. Work harder. Play the game. Keep your mind to yourself.
Her kitchen was bare. She’d sold most of her keepsakes and anything else she could liquidate at the flea market, even her books after her unemployment ran out. What was left was brown, too boring to show dirt. Could one die from beige?
A cold chill swept through her. Maven shivered again. The heater was set at hypothermal to save electricity. She reached into her pocket book to put the last of her change in the empty jelly jar on the counter. Then she remembered giving it–her lunch money—to the woman at the copy center for stamps for the last pile of resumes lying there to be mailed in the morning. She’d forgotten to take them with her.
People survived being homeless, living outdoors and eating irregularly, so Maven made herself glad she had a cold apartment to come home to with a bed and running water.
The last four crackers with scrapings of peanut butter made her supper at the kitchen sink while she heated water, saving the last of the coffee for the morning. She poured hot water into a cup and sipped, draining her anger and warming her belly and her hands. On the cup was a cartoon of a cleaning lady who wanted to know where her fairy godmother was.
“If my fairy godmother showed up tonight, I’d…I’d…” Maven shook her head and set the empty cup in the sink.
Still wearing her coat, Maven trudged to the bedroom to change for bed. The image of the star shone in her mind, glowing in the deep blue dusk, and the sliver of moon smiled at her, the promise of a peaceful night, and perhaps a new day, the promise of a new start. She had a few more resumes to send out, and she might hear back any day from the dozens sent before–still a bit of hope left.
Maven quickly shed her clothes and got ready for bed. Once under the covers, she began her ritual of deep breathing, partly to relax and center herself for sleep, but mostly to bring on a hot flash, which it always did, eventually. She’d learned that trick in many workshops and therapy sessions. She might not relax, but she would get warm.
She imagined sheep jumping over the star and the moon, then a cow, the cat and the fiddle, and other silly characters. As her cheeks finally flushed and the warmth flowed through her body, Maven thought of little boy blue, curled up in his haystack. Her last thought as she rolled over to go to sleep was “I’ll think about that tomorrow at Tara.”