A Short Story
by Sharris Neary

Short Index
LorraineMore by Sharris Neary

More Sherris Neary in magazine form:
B.C. Villager, Jan-Feb 2010
"The Prophet" ↓

B.C. Chronicle, Jan/Feb 2010
↓ Medicine Pouch

↓ BC Villager, Oct-Dec 2010
Bremerton Ferry

BC Chronicle, Nov-Dec 2010
↓ Into the Circle

The following short story is by Sherris Neary


© Sherris Neary
     Click & Read It was an especially beautiful Southern California summer evening, made even more wonderful because Maddie was going out with Kenneth. She had met Kenneth at the beach. They had talked of many things and found they had similar interests: Tommy Dorsey’s orchestra, Marilyn Monroe movies, and Frank Sinatra’s soothing ballads. When Kenneth discovered they lived in adjoining towns, he asked Maddie to go with him to the new Marilyn movie. She had never dated a college man before. She accepted with gusto, forgetting that she was to always ask her parents before making plans with new people.
     Maddie’s job at May Company in the women’s department gave her access to the latest fashions. She often came home from the downtown Los Angeles store describing the beautiful clothes she had sold to prosperous customers. The latest fad was linen suits for casual wear, and floor length silk florals with peek-a-boo midriff exposed gowns for formal wear. Maddie often sewed her own clothes to keep up with her friends. But not this time. She had spent her entire month’s paycheck on a gray linen suit for her date with Kenneth.
     Maddie pressed and laid out the new suit with her freshly laundered bra, panties, slip, garter belt and nylon hose. Before taking her bath and shampooing her hair, Maddie used an oatmeal scrub on her face that made her skin glow. Lorraine, Maddie’s mother, offered her face cream, which Maddie sparingly smoothed over her face and neck. This routine had to be done early in the day so that her hair would be perfectly dry, ready to work into the latest coiff.
     Maddie was 17, going into her senior year. The only boy she had dated was Carl who was in many of her classes. He was tall with dark wavy hair and fair skin. Except for a space between his front teeth, he was quite nice looking. He was the youngest son of a widowed mother, and they lived very modestly. This was in contrast to Kenneth, who lived in a nearby upscale community with his attorney father and socialite mother. Lorraine was beside herself thinking that finally, her daughter was dating someone worthwhile.
     Around four o’clock, with her hair completely dry, Maddie put on her sundry underclothing and began working on her soft, light brown hair. Lorraine had whipped egg whites lightly to use on the French role Maddie wanted for her hair. All the models and movie stars, except Marilyn, were wearing their hair that way, slicked back at the sides and formed into smooth roll from the nape of the neck to the crown of the head. It was a very sophisticated look. Between the two women, they were able to make Maddie’s hair stay in that configuration with the aid of the egg whites, which when dry, held it all together. Once her hair was completely dry, she carefully dressed, making sure not to disturb her hairdo. Pulling on the nylon stockings and securing them to the garter belt was the most difficult process because she was trembling with excitement. She felt the cool silk slip slither down her body over her other undergarments, beginning to feel as sophisticated as she felt she looked. A dab of Lorraine’s contraband Tabu behind each ear, and Maddie was ready to take a long appreciative look in the mirror of Lorraine’s waterfall walnut dressing table.
     While Maddie dressed, Lorraine began fixing dinner. Annie, Maddie’s little sister, set the table for four: Lorraine, Maddie, Annie, and their young brother Jimmy. She didn’t set a place for her dad, Max, since he rarely came home from work in time for dinner. Lorraine had prepared mashed potatoes, peas and fried round steaks, a favorite of everyone but Annie, who found them hard to chew, much less swallow.
     Lorraine and the two younger children sat down to eat, waiting for Maddie to finish dressing. They were sipping on iced tea when Max came in the driveway blowing the wolf whistle he had installed in his car. The automatic response to their father’s arrival was instant fear. His temper was totally unpredictable. They never knew when he came in whether he was going to kiss them or give them a slap. Lorraine quickly set another place for him at the table, finishing before he saw that he had not been included. No one spoke as he came in the door. They relaxed when they saw that he was in one of his good moods, full of smiles and silly jokes.
     Max was hungry, so he insisted on eating immediately. He didn’t seem to notice that Maddie wasn’t at the table until she came in the kitchen looking like someone on a magazine cover. Everyone except Max made comments about how lovely she looked. Max asked sarcastically where she thought she was going. She said “On a date”. He continued eating, and everyone silently breathed a sigh of relief. After a few bites, he looked up again at Maddie and demanded to know where she was going and who with.
     Annie knew that tone of voice. She looked away to not see the pink rising up her father’s neck, knowing his face would look as if it was swelling and his eyes turn threateningly green. Annie started counting the dark spots left from when in a rage he shook a bottle of Coke and let it spay all over Lorraine and the ceiling.
     He seemed to settle down as Lorraine told him about Kenneth, carefully leaving out where Maddie had met him and that she hadn’t asked permission. A few minutes passed and the tension seemed to ease and everyone ate as if all was normal. Max said, “Please pass the peas.” Annie passed the bowl to Max. They were canned peas, and Lorraine had not drained off the juice. Because everyone liked peas, she had warmed two cans, filling a good sized bowl.
     Without warning, Max stood up with the bowl and turned it upside down on Maddie’s head. “Now see who wants to go out with you!” Max yelled with a smirk on his lips. No one dared to breathe, not knowing what do expect next. Maddie sat still, stunned. Peas and juice ran down her hair and onto her new suit. Her hair, which had been so carefully set with egg whites started to sag, as did the linen of her suit. She was paralyzed with disbelief at what had just happened. One moment she was anxiously waiting to go out with Kenneth, glowing with happiness. The next moment all of her preparations were destroyed; her expectations of the evening slipping away like the peas slipping down her face, landing on her quivering lips.
     No one moved. They all sat in silence except Jimmy, who stifled a six year old’s giggle. Max stormed out of the kitchen, but the other’s remained still until the doorbell rang. Maddie ran crying to her room. “I can’t let him see me like this!” she sobbed. “Tell him I’m sick and can’t go.”
     Annie was chosen to be the messenger. She opened the door to Kenneth. He had a broad smile that showed even white teeth when he asked for Maddie. Annie was so impressed with his appearance she didn’t speak for a moment. He was dressed in a light blue tweed jacket with a white dress shirt and brown slacks with a knife sharp crease. He had light brown hair that was no darker than his deep tan. His blue eyes crinkled at the corners when he asked again to see Maddie. Reluctantly, Annie told him that Maddie was sick in bed and couldn’t go with him. She wanted to scream that it was her father’s fault, he ruined Maddie’s evening. She wanted to tell him what had happened, that he should come another time, when Max wasn’t home.
     Click & Read Max called from the other room. “Is that jerk still here?” Kenneth’s smile faded, and he turned silently away. He got into his car and drove slowly away, looking back just for an instant. Maddie cried herself to sleep. She never wore the suit again.

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