"G" Stands For…
by Donnalyn Davis
"Trudy, get your ass in the back seat! Mary, get that kid of yours in the car! I ain't got all day here!" he grunted with a deep-southern drawl as he dug into the pocket of his old jeans for the lump of keys. Mary snatched up a small dirty hand as she hurriedly passed and pulled the little girl down the driveway toward the gray '88 Malibu. As she was tugged up into the car, Trudy slid her hand across the rusty chrome trim on the rear panel. It was cold and rough. She looked down at her fingers as the door slammed shut. Rust and a fresh layer of dirt, the dirt from the side of the car, ended up on her slender fingers. She rubbed them on her pant leg and looked up over the front seat to see Mary slam the front door, and they sped off toward the country store.
They'd be driving for a while, as the store was almost four miles away. Trudy had watched the digits click on the dash panel all the way there one time, just for something to do. She counted as they drove. She loved to count. She learned that in school last year; she counted every chance she got. She counted the dirty tiles on the bathroom wall around the tub, she counted the cracks on her bedroom ceiling almost every night. Sometimes she pretended they were roads; road to beautiful places where flowers grew. She loved that game, imagining where the roads led and what was there; a puppy, a church, maybe a rolling hill of green grass. "Grass," she thought, "and, G stands for…"
"Elwood!! Knock it off; you know how much I hate that! Why can't you keep your mitts to yourself while you're driven'?" Mary chided as the car swerved back over the centerline and back on course. Trudy pushed herself back to upright from the grimy cracked leather seats that used to be white ad brushed her short brown hair behind her ears again. She wished she still had her long hair, but they made her cut it short when winter set in. They said it was easier to make care of, but she really liked it when it fell softly down and over her back in the cold weather. It helped to keep her ears warms.
Trudy gave a deep sigh of remembrance as the car jolted to a halt, and he jumped out. "Stay in the car, I'll be right back," he commanded, "I'll get you a cola." Trudy's eyes swept over to her as the slight framed woman shouted, "Hey, get Trudy a pop, too." She looked back to Trudy and nodded, "You'll get it when we get back home if you're good." Trudy offered a slight smile and managed her own nod. She knew what that meant; going to the fridge several times to get beer for him and having to sit o his knee when it was long past her bedtime. She was already tired, real tired. That's what happens when you spend most nights tracking ceilings cracks and dreaming. She didn't like it when he drank. He smelled rotten and his cheek was bristly when he kissed her good night. He always left her cheek wert but she didn't wipe it until she was walking down the hall and out of sight. She learned not to do that in front of him. She learned he didn't cotton to that too well.
He jumped back into the car and reached for the handle. It creaked and stuck as it always did. "Damn this thang!" he snorted as he mashed his finger in the door. "Let me see it, El." Mary offered. "Mind yer business, woman!" he winced. Trudy looked on and wished they were already back home. She could always tell when a fight was about to boil over and it sure felt like the fire was licking the pot. When it did, they always got around to some loud, harsh teeter tottering over Trudy. It never ended well. Another sigh just eased out as Trudy looked down at the tattered hem of her top and sunk back into the folds of the upholstery, closing her eyes.
The ride home was loud. Halfway home the couple was deep into a badgering session, so Trudy got up on her knees and leaned over to the window, placing her crossed arms on the doorframe, she rested her chin there. The window was cold and her faint breath muted the scenes as she breathed in and out. She scanned the view; her eyes landing on the bard trees, one after another that had long their fancy decoration of colorful leaves. She caught a glimpse of a large swatch of empty field, now brown and dry. Everything looked dead but she knew that everything would come back one day and it would be beautiful again. It was a pleasant thought that consoled her. It brought a peaceful gaze, a deeper breath, and a larger patch of frosted window in front of her nose.
"I'm going to hurt you! Keep it up, witch!" he belted out. The heightened sound broke Trudy's wanderings. She bit her lip and looked out the corner of her eye as she saw him take a backhand swing, yelling, "Mary, you're on my last nerve now!" The swat landed firmly on the woman's chest and she clutched at her breasts and doubled forward. Then he snatched her by the back of the neck and thrust her back to the seat. She pulled away toward her door, began to sob, and sniffled, "El, no!"
"Ahh," he smirked as he dismissed her, saying, "Forget it, I gotta' drive here." Trudy drew her eyes back toward the window once more, trying to recapture her abandoned thoughts. Again she breathed deeply, and slowly exhaled out toward the window, watching the crystal circle grow bigger than before. With her little fingertip, she reached up and managed to trace a shaky letter "G" in the dampness. She wondered if her mother would ever come and find her; if she'd ever take her back to her home, to her puppy and her flowers, and far away from the hell that is these strangers. She wondered if she would ever hear her mother sweetly calling her from across the beautiful green field from the back porch again, her crisp cotton dress blowing in the summer breeze, calling her name, "Grace…Grace…"
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