Rest Easy *Valentine's Day Entry*

*I'm submitting the first part of a novel, as it is still underway, but almost complete! I began it in January and the majority of it was written after the opening of the competition, but I had to re-upload because of the original upload date*

*Based on Prompts #1 and #2*

In Arizona, two teenagers spend a summer attempting to decrypt the life of an elderly woman with dementia, who had gone missing over forty years ago and cannot recall to anyone where and how she lived. This ongoing mission keeps the teenagers occupied all summer, bringing them closer and helping them to avoid the rough times they have been going enduring in their lives, and the pasts they just want to forget. As the pair grow a bond, it eventually appears that the world around them wishes against it. The price of overcoming the obstacles that stand ahead of them is hefty, but only they can determine whether it is worth the risk.

For those on desktop - I've added thematic songs to some of the chapters :)

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1. PROLOGUE

 

 

Summer, 1972. Bakersfield, California.

 

“I wrote a list, even though it won’t be a huge shopping spree. Just a few necessities,” Violet unbuckled her seatbelt, wriggling around to un-stiffen herself before her exit. Her husband turned down the radio, watching her as she brought down the mirror above her head and hastily powdered her face, spraying some perfume after.

“Didn’t know the supermarket had a beauty pageant aisle,” he chuckled. She smiled, but not all the way. It was one of those smiles, the ones she deployed when she did not want to give her true reaction away. He didn’t think much of that smile, although he normally would. She was still recovering. There was nothing to worry about - she was still in there, somewhere behind her golden lashes, behind her cobalt blue eyes. Of course she was.

“So, just to make sure,” she ignored his joke. “You said I should get some fruits to fill the bowl, some bread and milk, diapers for Charlotte, some cigarettes, and salmon for tonight’s meal?” She looked over at Charles once she’d finished applying a rose-coloured lip tint. The toddler gargled and mumbled incoherently to herself in the back seat.

“Yeah. Oh, and get us a bottle of wine. Your choice. We can celebrate my job promotion, after dinner. Watch a film once Charlie’s in bed. Drink up, drink up. Been waiting for this moment for years.” He rubbed her left thigh, and she tittered, looking down at his hand, her gaze fixed on it for a few seconds. She quickly stripped her grin away like it were cello tape. She nodded, looked back up at him, and brought her hand to his cheek. They engaged in a stare-down. This was normally a non-verbal expression of sexual tension between the two. They always used to do it when they first met, and they never stopped. It always meant the same thing: You’re mine later, tonight. You’re mine now. You’re mine forever.

“Congratulations, Honey. I’m proud of you. Now, we can only hope for the same prosperity for me, one day.” She said.

“Don’t hope. Expect it. It will come, I promise you that.” Charles knew how much her poetry meant to her, and it broke his heart to see her still struggling to assemble it, to get it out into the gargantuan, chaotic, fickle world. She had been writing for as long as he had known her, needed to work three jobs, and was still being turned down at every agency, her work given little attention in poetry clubs and slam nights. It almost finished her, once upon a time. She almost gave up on herself, on everything. Almost. Almost.

 

Violet looked sad. Charles didn’t want to see her that way. Not in the middle of the day, on a blazing hot Summer afternoon, not a cloud in sight, just sun. He could not bear it. She sighed, reaching over to kiss her husband. He counted its duration. Four seconds, approximately. It was like a goodbye kiss - like he was waving her off. It should have been a quick peck. He knew what it meant. She was telling him, I’m upset that you’re getting what you want in life - a good job, a baby, a wife, and I’m still writing glorified love letters and suicide notes with a fictional edge, littered with enjambment and dark blue metaphors, calling them poems, calling them prose, leaving them in a pile like Mount Everest in our Home like I’m still sixteen and I have a lot to give to the world. But I am happy for you. I really am.

“I love you.” Violet said, and kissed him again. This time, two seconds. When he turned to face the windscreen, she kissed him on the cheek, quickly, in an almost juvenile fashion. Three kisses.

“I love you too,” Charles said sotto voce. Baby Charlotte started laughing at something imaginary in the back seat.

Violet got out of the car and strode out of the parking lot, into the glass doors of the local supermarket. Her strawberry blonde hair swayed and bounced along with her preppy gait, and her skirt fluttered in the relieving breeze outside. She clutched onto her handbag like a rich schoolgirl with a Chanel tote, and she suddenly looked eight years younger. It was like he saw a spark of energy in her, and it warmed his chest. She was OK, he thought. She will get what she wants in life. She’ll be fine.

 

Charles never saw his wife again.

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