On The Curb

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Madeline Carmichael stood outside the ice cream shop, Sundaes, with her three year old daughter, Melinda, balanced in her left arm.  The two shared a single ice cream cone- chocolate, Mellie’s favorite- while perusing a table lined with blown-glass knick-knacks of varying colors and shapes, mostly animals and creatures from fantasy lands.  It was the yearly Main Street Side Walk Sale and Fair (there’s something for everyone, come on down!), and all of the quaint stores that populated Yardely’s Main Street were displaying their wares under the autumn sun.

“I want that one,” Mellie yelled, pointing to a pink and yellow unicorn the size of a coffee mug with a grubby, brown-stained finger.  Her chubby cheeks and pouting lips were covered with a thin sheen of the frozen dessert, the mess only added to the innocence and glow of her face. Wide green eyes, a button nose, and a mop of auburn hair collected into a pair of bouncing pigtails secured with lavender bows completed the little girl’s adorable look.

Maddy shared few features with her daughter, possessing wavy brown hair, wide, brown eyes, a thin, slightly upturned nose, and voluptuous lips that almost always danced with a smile.  If she hadn’t witnessed the beautiful girl sliding from between bloody thighs, she might not have believed that the girl shared her genes.  The truth was, she didn’t know whose looks she inherited; Mellie was definitely not her ex-husband’s daughter, and the number of secret lovers she had enjoyed around the time Mellie was conceived numbered five or six.

Madeline shared weekend custody of Mellie with her ex-husband, William.  The girl wasn’t scheduled to be with her this weekend, and she had been somewhat surprised when William consented to a change in weekends so she could bring her daughter to the Fair.  He usually balked at such requests, just to piss her off, she supposed.  Truth be told, she didn’t think William even wanted a share of custody.  He may have suspected that she wasn’t his daughter, only taking her every other weekend either to spite her or to keep up a good public image.  Or possibly both. 

“Are you sure that’s the one you want, Mellie?  What about the dragon over there?”  She pointed to a purple and red specimen the size of a football, its torso raised, its wings flared, its neck curled.  “I know you love dragons.  And that one’s soooo cool.  It even has fire coming out of its mouth.”

Mellie vehemently shook her head.  “I want the unicorn, mommy.”

“Unicorn it is.”   Maddie looked at the women who stood behind the table, a short, obese woman with skin enough hanging from her arms for half of dozen skin grafts.  Her fiery red hair, chemically created, clashed  horribly with her pasty, wrinkle-encrusted face, and Maddie had a hard time looking at her.  But she smiled, and the woman smiled back, ruined, yellow teeth peeking from behind thin lips.  “How much for the unicorn?”

The woman lifted the delicate statue and looked at the sticker on the bottom.  She looked back up, ready to speak, her lips making a quirky movement, but a screaming engine stole the words from her lungs.  Instead, her eyes went wide.  She pointed behind Maddie with a gnarled finger and tried to speak, but once again, her lungs and lips failed her, and only a thin moan escaped.

Maddie turned, ice cream in one hand, Mellie in the other, and could do nothing but watch in absolute terror as a car jumped the curb (is that an El Dorado, she for some reason asked herself, as if the model of the car could possibly change her fate) and plowed into her.

From behind the leather-wrapped steering wheel, eighty-five year old Michael Johnson stared at the woman he had pinned to the side of Sundaes with his car.  Light still flickered in her eyes, but was slowly, slowly dimming.  Blood foamed at her lips and dribbled down her chin, looking much like a vampire that had just fed.  The little girl, thrown by her mother at moment of impact, lay face up on the hood, her broken body struggling to gather breath.  She had slammed against the windshield face first with an audible crack that had fractured the windshield and probably her developing skull.  Her little chest, many of the ribs probably shattered, strained but did continue to pull in as evident by the slight rise and fall.  Her face was a mess, the adorable ice cream smear, an homage to her youth and innocence, replaced by a bloody mask, a tribute to the sudden violence suffered.  Her lips moved slightly, and from within the car, Michael thought he heard the toddler whisper for her mother.

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