Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Parade: Part I, Skipping School

The Parade 
Part I
October 30th, Skipping School

Jackie pedaled her bike out of the parking lot and away from school.  She glanced over her shoulder to make sure no one had seen her leave.  Her last class was a free period and she wouldn't be missed, but she didn't want to take any chances.  Rivercross High disappeared behind a bank of trees as she rounded the curve and sped towards downtown. She turned at the next intersection to avoid Main street.  She didn't want to be seen by anyone who might tell her dad.  Doris over at the Style Shop had ratted her out when she had skipped class before and she just couldn't deal with that extra stress today.

She bought the test from Maureen at Norris grocery on her way to school.  She knew that Maureen would keep her secret.  She sold Jackie cigarettes sometimes.  The test was wrapped in a brown paper bag deep in her backpack.  She would go to the park for some privacy and then she would know.  If she got to the park before three she could get home before four-thirty and her mom and dad wouldn't be suspicious.  She angled her bike onto Myers boulevard and towards the Mason bridge.

She had been taught in History class that in the 1800s the Mason Bridge in Rivercrosss was the only crossing point of Le Reve, the river that ran parallel to main street.  A tributary of the Mississippi, it may have once been a vital waterway, but dams created upriver had shrunk it to the width of a large shallow creek.  Being the single crossing point in the area, the town had once been a hub of river travel and commerce, but like Le Reve, Rivercross was shriveled now.

Due to the many other bridges that had been built across Le Reve during the twentieth century Rivercross ceased to be any kind of thoroughfare.  The bypass built three years ago on north highway fourteen redirected most of the traffic towards Hamptonville and had sealed Rivercross' fate.  Even the national medical supply warehouse that had recently been built on the outskirts of town had closed last year.  Rivercross was dying and Jackie refused to die with it.

When she turned sixteen Jackie realized that she had to get out of Rivercross or she would die here.  That birthday was when she and her father stopped talking with each other and had begun yelling.  It was also the first time she had dyed her hair black.  She'd sworn to herself that on her eighteenth birthday she would leave Rivercross and never look back.  However, depending on what the test told her, she might be stuck here after all.  Jackie pedaled faster.


Rivercross park was on one side of the tallest hill in town.  It afforded any park goers a decent view of most of the town and was generally vacant during late afternoons.  With preparations for tomorrow's Halloween parade occupying everyone, today the park was completely empty.  Jackie parked her bike near the river view restrooms and chained it into the rack there.

She rushed inside and threw her backpack on the counter. The room was suffused with the air of stale antiseptic.  She dug out the brown bag and removed the test.  She focused on the box, trying not to look at herself in the mirror.  She had burst into tears on the hill leading to the park.  Jackie sighed.  She removed the test stick and instructions and put the packaging back into the brown bag.  She shoved the bag deep into her backpack and grabbed the plastic tumbler she had brought to catch her urine.

She didn't want to do the test here, but she had no where else to go.  She couldn't do it at school because it would be all over town in the next instant.  She couldn't do the test at home for obvious reasons.  If her parents found out, it would be Armageddon.  They hated her boyfriend, Sam.  The restrooms here weren't too bad though.  At least it wasn't a convenience store bathroom.  Jackie shivered with understanding.  She was almost an entire month late.

After the first Rivercross Raiders home game, she and Sam had gone to the party at the McPherson farm.  They'd taken a blanket out into the field and made slow love under the stars.  It was beautiful and gentle in that moment.  It wasn't until after that they realized that the condom had broken.  Jackie had rushed home and taken a grueling shower to be safe.  She had let the pressure of Midterms the following week distract her and then suddenly it was three weeks later.

They'd had a scare once before when they first began dating, but it was only that.  Jackie had known something was different this time the moment her period was late.  Her period had never been this late before.  When she woke up vomiting on Monday, she couldn't deny it any longer.  She wasn't sure if she even wanted Sam to know at all.  He was romantic about babies and might talk her out of what would need to be done.  If she had a baby here in Rivercross, she would never leave.

Jackie hung her backpack on the stall door and covered the seat with sheets of toilet tissue.  She took several deep breaths.  Leaning back toward the toilet, she squatted over the cup and pissed.  She got most of it in the cup.  Wiping up the splatter, she pulled her pants up and she dipped the the tab into her urine.  She went back to the sink and washed her hands then began cleaning off her face where her mascara had run.

After the minute was up she took and deep breath and looked at the stick.  In the little view window was a bright blue cross.  She looked up at the racoon girl in the mirror and sobbed.  She leaned against the counter for support and shook as Rivercross closed in around her.

{8x2.665, created in Adobe Photoshop}

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UPDATE 102814:  I must extend my apologies.  I let something slip into publication that I should have caught.  I am changing Jackie's boyfriends name, Henry, to Sam.  Henry is one of the main protagonists in Night of the Cauldron and I would like to avoid any confusion.  Thank you for your patience and understanding.

UPDATE 110714:  The word "drugstore" in the second paragraph has become "Norris grocery".  Changes in Richmond Norris' plotline necessitated a change here.  Thank you for your patience and understanding.

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