Without Her Face 3
By Nora Chery
Volume 2 Issue 4
February 10, 2022
Original artwork by Aleeza Dhillon
Far East, in the outskirts of Snow Valley Square, resided a lovely opening. Spring had already arrived in the region and swept through the town. It made its fame justified, as the plants grew rich and rapidly. They bloomed with vivid colors dotted around. A breeze gently swayed the grass. The sun shone bright, reflecting its rays all throughout. Birds sang as they fluttered under the warm sheet of heat.
The place was popular amongst the townsfolk, many visited for the flowers and scenery alone. The area had an appeal, anyone can swim through the green seas of grass looking to find a flower to gift to their partner and find the perfect fit.
In the midst of it sat a modest white cottage. The windows were small and left open, letting the wind made the beige curtains dance. The paint on the cottage's walls was faded but still presentable, and most importantly, the roof didn't leak. It wasn't as fancy as some other houses in the town. Infact, the only things that stood out about it was the flowers growing around the house, mainly in front if the porch. Many of the flowers were pink, yellow and orange blossoms.
There was also a porch that creaked quietly, due the footsteps of a woman swiftly making her way to her rocking chair. Her hair, which was normally tied in a neat bun, was worn down to an untidy ponytail. Quick and edgy, she straightens her long summer dress, protecting her skin from the wood of the chair and plopped down. Her breathing, even with all of the sweet warm air surrounding her, was quivering as she stared down that the letter. A red envelope was discarded, left alone on the threshold of the door. The flush-colored letter had a somewhat fancy feminine theme to it. Along the margins were lipstick marks, in an almost mocking way. The letters were, of course, cursive, a darker shader for contrast.
Anita scanned through the cursive letters over and over like a malfunctioned factory machine. The gripe of the edges of the paper tightens, as she hoped she must’ve misinterpreted something, a word or a sentence, after all it’s been at least a week since she picked up a book.
But no. The more she repeated her reading cycle, the more her reassuring self disappeared.
The edges of the card were jagged and disjointed, slick with sweat.
She massaged her left temple with her left hand, relying on the small comfort as her headache began to straggle her.
Her brown eyes weakly shifted her focus on the horizon to the voice of her 5-year-old son. His hair of which she spent 30 minutes combing was tussled, his clothes of which she spent one hour washing were stained with dirt and grass. With his equally brown eyes, he looked at her with a pale pedal on his chubby cheek, daisy on his left hand and action figure on the right.
“What is it, sweetheart?” she asked weakly.
Her son responded to her question by turning his head behind him, presumably staring at the distance. In the distance, bestows a dark brown path along the hills. It had been beaten hard by the tires of cars that belonged to people who would much rather drive than walk to gawk at the tree and pluck the flowers.
Her eyebrows furrowed in confusion; she followed the child’s gaze standing up to get a better look. The wind suddenly grew strong, enough to snatch the empty envelope from the threshold and fly it to the very same direction, the two-person family were looking at. Then, the letter soon joined alongside it, as the hand that was holding it felt numb.
From the inside of her mind, everything was mute and tight. The sound of an engine growling, faint due to the distance. A hot pink spot was seen in the heather grew into a roadster car as it traveled near its destination.
Managing to climb out of her state, she tramped down the stairs, racing towards her son. With grass slamming against the hem of her dress, too preoccupied to pick up it up like a lady, she extended her sweaty hands to him and plucked him up. The small boy grip on the things he was holding had loosened, abandoning them near the lilies. The boy frowned and fought with whines as he extended his small hand over his mother’s tense shoulder. The woman only responded by caressing his head making her grip on him firm as she ran to the entrance of their tiny house.
The brown door that was slightly ajar was struck by the woman’s hip, swinging open, the knob jabbed the wall. She plopped her son on the oak floorboards inside, outside she stands over him still on the porch. “Go to your room.” she whispered with urgency.
The boy tried to step outside, he pointed at the direction on his toy lost within the grass but his mother grabbed his small paw.
“Go to your room and don’t make a sound.”
She grabbed the other paw, cupping them like they were one fragile baby bird and placed her lips on their knuckles. She closed her eyes, long eyelashes joined together quickly and tightly as she lingered for a bit. She prayed and lifted her eyelids. The boy pouted in frustration. The wheels of the vehicle rolling against the ground could be heard like a whisper.
The woman pushed the boy inside and closed the door. Her knuckles were white when she held onto the knob. The pink vehicle rolled in it a gentle hold. The click and squeaky sound of the car door opening could be heard like a whisper in her ear. She released a short breath through her barley unlatched lips against the door. She turned finally, brown eyes meeting blue piercing eyes.
The car was there in front of the cottage, next to the mailbox. The driver was already out and was leaning against one of the front doors, her red lipstick curled into a small smile. Her designer rose heels crossed over the other, titling her head. Black-coloured silk-gloved nails rhythmically tapped against the side view mirror. Anita stood straight and polite with her hands tightly woven together, her left thumb gentle rubbing the other. She opened her mouth to inhale, her shoulders lifted with the action, and then exhaled along with her greeting.
“Good evening, Catherine.”
Catherine straightened her head with a snort along with a bright beam. She took her hand from the mirror and used it to wave her hand, “A fine evening to you to, it’s a pleasure to see you, Anita dear, it’s been a while.” She adjusted her tilted hat than paused, eyebrows lifted “...Has it been awhile?” she asked affably
Anita gazed down at her pumps, they didn’t seem as pretty anymore, “Yes.” she answered.
Catherine shrugged and playful patted her purse at the side of her hip as she giggled “Well - you know we’re living in a busy world, and I’m a busy girl, so time seems to fly fast, I tend to lose track.” Her patting stopped “...I know you wouldn’t.”
“I suppose I wouldn’t.”
“I hope you weren’t expecting me to drive by, say ‘hello’, give you a hug and a kiss, and drive away soon after.”
Anita whipped her head up, “Of course—of course not!”
“Well, I'm accepting that you would invite me inside your home and we could may have a discussion like fine women, talking is what women do best, Anita.”
Anita quietly shuffled to the side of the door, she lifts her hand toward it, “Please make yourself at home.”
Catherine crossed the distance of grass between her and porch with long elegant strides with her hips swaying. She climbed up the stairs and slicked her long blond hair over her ear, revealing a strikingly red earring. She sides eyes Anita before swinging the door open.
“How polite of you.” She steps over the threshold; she scans the cottage’s interior “This house is just what I remembered, it looks quite lovely inside, though I've seen better” she remarks as she takes off her leather jacket and hat. Anita nods, taking notice of her empire dress, the material was light with dark floral designs that trailed around her torso and waist. Catherine sets her things aside on the coat rack next to the door. She sighs and turns to give Anita that warm looking smile, it never left her beautiful face, but in the gram scheme of things meant nothing. A mask she didn't have to wear but chose to for the fun of it.
Catherine pulled out a humanoid-shaped item, it was wrapped with pink parchment. She displayed the thing up to Anita’s face, “Littering is a no no.” she jested, “Especially if it belongs to your son.”
She wrapped the paper and separated the item from it. The item was the boy’s action figure. Anita lifted her hands to take the toy, but hesitated. When Catherine tilted the figure towards her, giving her permission, she slipped the toy out her hold. She stared down at it, the toy once withered by the elements of the world and the abuse from a child, now looked brand new. Shiny with each colour popping with quality.
Anita looked up to Catherine swiftly making her way to the dining table, she sat down on one of the chairs to then flip the paper, other side was the letter. “But most especially if it’s one of my letters.”
Anita felt her heart against her ribcage, “I didn’t mean to throw it away, I swear I would never throw it away,” she managed to squeeze out, “It just slipped out of my—”
“May I please have some wine?”
“I beg your pardon?”
“Would you be so kind as to get me wine, red would be preferable.”
Anita, obliged, she walked to the kitchen to make the drink. She reached over to the wine crate, grabbed a bottle of “Flordames Amiable” and poured a wine glass of the crimson liquid for the woman. Soon she was back with the drink, she walked towards the opposite of the table, reached over and placed the drink in front of Catherine. She sat down at the opposite and watched anxiously as Catherine lifted the glass to her lips. She drained it in one swallow, only leaving a puddle at the bottom. She let out what sounded like a sigh, putting the glass back on the table. She looked over at Anita, her smile deepened. She refocused her gaze to the paper in her hand.
“All of my clients, as far as I know, have been loyal to my polices—except for you.”
To be continued...