I actually began this story with the intention of using the following three words from Three Word Wednesday: Change, Dizzy and Key. However, it came out so fast that I completely forgot to use the words. lol
“Mom, come here and look at this.”
Hope continued to evaluate herself in the mirror. “What about this one?” she asked her 17-year old daughter while nodding at her reflection and staring at the peach sleeveless turtleneck she held up against her torso. “This one looks dressy.”
“That color is all wrong for you, mom. It makes you look like an albino,” Edie responded without taking her eyes off the scene outside.
“Really?” Hope’s voice trailed off in disappointment. “But I thought this looked good on me.”
“Nope. And you’re whining again.”
“Well, thanks for shattering my self-confidence.” She threw the top onto the bed in a fit of temper and moved to rummage through the rest of her closet. She had lost nearly twenty pounds in the past three months and nothing in her wardrobe appeared to fit her anymore. She wasn’t sure she had very many more clothes she could try on.
“Seriously, mom, you need to see this.”
“I’m sort of busy right now! I need to meet your father for lunch in 45 minutes!” Her voice was laced with tension and she felt a twinge of disgust at her desperation. Since when had she become so desperate to be someone she wasn’t?
Since her husband had been working longer hours and was home a lot less, that’s when.
The children weren’t aware of how shaky things had become between her and William lately. She wanted to look drop-dead gorgeous for their lunch date and remind her husband, if not verbally, then subliminally, how good he really had it.
“There are strange men with bulldozers crawling all over our yard,” Edie said in a breathy timbre.
“What?” Hope continued to grab handfuls of clothes and toss them out of the closet. She felt a bubble of a giggle percolate deep in her belly as she pictured someone walking into the bedroom and seeing various articles of clothing being tossed into the air and no one visibly throwing them. I’m hysterical, she thought. I’m going to have a nervous breakdown and then where will I be? “On my own with four children to support and a medicine cabinet full of prescription drugs, that’s where,” she mumbled under her breath.
She continued to empty her closet and felt like screaming in frustration. She’d have one hell of a mess to clean up later, but she didn’t care. She NEEDED to find something, anything at this point that would accentuate her weight loss. Maybe Edie had something she could wear …
Hope jumped and issued a small squeal of surprise. She paused, her arms over her head, to glare at her daughter. “WHAT?” she yelled back.
“Come here, now.”
“Don’t talk to me like that young –”
“These guys are ripping up our driveway!”
“WHAT?” Hope repeated, only this time, the lone word was yelled in confusion.
Edie disappeared from view and Hope followed her to the window that overlooked the back of the house. Her daughter stood to one side and with one hand, flicked a grand gesture to the scene outside. “Our driveway is gone.”
Hope looked out of the window and her soft blue eyes, the color of aged denim, widened in shock. “What the heck are they doing?”
“Ripping up our driveway,” Edie shot back, her voice laced with sarcasm.
“I can see that, Ms Smarty-Pants. I mean, why are they doing it?”
“Because it’s their job?” her daughter offered helpfully.
Hope ignored her and wracked her brain for an explanation. She didn’t remember talking to anyone about coming out to dig up their driveway. And she didn’t recall William saying anything to her about setting something like this up. Maybe they had the wrong address?
“Um mom,” Edie fidgeted nervously next to her. “You might want to find out what’s going on?” She gestured to a huge backhoe that was positioning itself just before her asphalt driveway, the claw-like scoop lowering slowly toward the edge of their property line.
“Crap!” Hope whirled around and stuck her feet into her floral flip-flops and rushed out of the bedroom.
“MOM!” Edie called after her.
Hope whirled around in a huff. “Edie! You’re seriously getting on my nerves.” She stuck her hands on her hips, “What now?”
Edie smiled and Hope bristled. Her daughter gestured to her bra and panties. “You’re sort of underdressed for a confrontation, don’t you think?”
Hope glanced down at her body and growled. “Damn it. WHERE is my head today?” She hurried back to her bedroom and hurriedly shrugged into a t-shirt and old gym shorts. “I’ll be right back.”
“What, are you kidding me? I’m coming with you. Those guys are hot.”
Hope rolled her eyes and brushed past her daughter. She ignored her as she stopped to primp in the hallway mirror before hurrying to catch up with her.
Hope threw open the doors and half walked, half ran, toward the small cluster of dark, tanned men gathered around her driveway.
“Excuse me!” She said, raising her voice to be heard over the roar of the bulldozer’s engine. “Excuse me!”
One of the men, a heavyset man in his 50’s caught a glimpse of her and motioned for the man in the bulldozer to cut the engine by making a slicing motion across his throat. The noise abruptly stopped and Hope skidded to a halt, Edie so close behind her she nearly stumbled into her.
“Hi.” Hope said, her voice overly bright and cheery. “Um, what are you doing?” She gestured to the large chunks of dirt, gravel and asphalt three feet from where they were standing.
The heavyset man took off his construction helmet and ran a hand over his sweaty brow. “Uh, digging up your driveway.”
Hope felt like screaming. “Yes, I can see that. But WHY are you digging up my driveway?”
A mixture of emotions skidded across the man’s face: annoyance, alarm and confusion. “Because we were hired …” the words came out in a halting flow of Irish brogue. “Tom!” He turned to bark at the impossibly thin man behind him. “Check our work papers.”
He continued to smile and shift his bulk awkwardly from foot to foot as he waited for Tom to walk back to the truck and retrieve the work order. Hope flashed a polite, but tolerant smile and Edie batted her lashes at the cute, dark man who looked like he might be of Latino descent.
Hope gave the man Edie was oogling the once over and a warning look. When the man noticed her glare, he coughed and quickly got back to work. Edie huffed in irritation next to her.
“Okay, here we are,” the man said while taking the work order from his employee’s hands. “Is this 421 N. Pickwick?”
“Yes,” Hope confirmed quietly. She brushed her hair out of her eyes and sighed. “Who authorized this?”
“Uh,” the man squinted to read the name. “A William Stone.”
Hope’s heart sank and she nodded. “Right. That’s my husband. Okay, I’ll call him and see what’s going on. I’m sorry to bother you.”
“No problem,” the man shrugged and waved for his guys to get back to work.
“What’s the big deal, mom?” Edie asked as they walked back into the house. “So, our driveway is being repaved, big deal.”
“It’s not a big deal,” said Hope.
“Then why are you getting so bent of out shape?”
Hope didn’t answer her and instead went right for the phone. She dialed her husband’s office and impatiently tapped her manicured nails against the kitchen countertop.
“Ssh. … hey, it’s me.” Hope said as soon as her husband answered.
“Did you authorize some guys to come out and repave our driveway?”
There was a long moment of silence before he responded. “Yeah. It needed it.”
He sounded defensive. Hope softened her tone. “Why didn’t you tell me what was going on?”
“Why?” she sputtered. “How much is this costing?”
“Why do you care? I’m paying for it.”
She closed her eyes and absorbed the barb. Her lack of financial contribution to the family had been a sore spot between them for the past several months. “It would have been nice to have been consulted, that’s all.”
She waited for him to respond. When the silence stretched out for long seconds, she cleared her throat and asked, “Do you really think it needed it?” Though they had lived in their house for the past 20 years, they had been vigilant in making sure everything was properly maintained. And in her opinion, the driveway had been fine.
Several long, silent seconds stretched between them again before he answered, “It adds value to the house.”
She blinked. “Why would that matter?”
His answer was cold and hollow, “Because I just put the house up for sale.”