“This is the first bad thing I’ve ever done in my life,” Blanche giggled as she looked at the other three women with her in the van. “I swear, any time I do anything bad, even just a little naughty, I get caught. Never fails.”
“When have you ever done anything bad? You’re like … perfect,” Cecile muttered from the passenger seat while squinting to read her iPhone in the dark interior.
“Perfect?” Blanche sputtered in surprise. “Hardly. Would a perfect woman lose her husband to a co-ed? I don’t think so.” She could feel her good mood deflating as an image of her husband having sex with the perky redhead from his sociology class popped into her head. Her shoulders hunched forward in defeat and without being aware of it, she slumped over the steering wheel as if trying to ward off any more disturbing thoughts. Her knuckles whitened as her grip tightened. Bastard.
“Hey now,” Erin said from the back of the van. She leaned forward to place a comforting hand on Blanche’s shoulder. “Remember our agreement? No talking about the ‘jerk who shall not be named.’” She turned slightly to give Cecil a warning look.
Cecile shrugged and issued a huge yawn. “I can’t believe you guys talked me into this. It’s,” she squinted at her phone again, “almost three in the morning. I have to get up in like, three hours!”
“Then don’t go to bed,” Erin said and sat back in her seat. “Just because you’re almost 40 years old doesn’t mean you have to act like it.”
Whitney snorted in amusement next to Erin.
“All right, ladies,” Blanche warned. She reached up to rub her forehead. She shouldn’t have had that fifth (or was it sixth? She honestly lost count) apple martini. She didn’t usually drink at all, but her girlfriends had talked her into going out and once out, it felt so good to dunk her depression into a pretty glass of liquor, at least for a little while. She could feel just a hint of that depression inching back into her mood, its icy fingers leaving cold streaks against her heat-infused cheeks. “There’s no need to pick on Cecile. At least one of us is acting our age tonight.”
Cecile sighed and ran a hand through her short, spiky hair. “I’m sorry. I had a tough week and there’s this new hotshot that thinks he can do my job better than me,” she balled her hands into fists and her entire body tensed.
Blanche shrugged and softened her voice to try and diffuse her friend. Cecile had a terrible temper and she didn’t feel like talking her off the edge at the moment. “Forget it, Cecile. We all have our problems. You girls were nice enough to help me with mine, I’ll return the favor this weekend. In the meantime …” her voice ground to a stop as the van suddenly jostled, swayed and jerked. All four women were rendered speechless for long seconds.
“What the … did I just run over something?” Blanche asked. “There wouldn’t be a speed bump on this stretch of road, would there?” She slowed down and glanced in her side mirror to try and see what she might have hit, but it was too dark to see anything.
“That didn’t feel like a speed bump to me,” Whitney said, her body twisted around so she could see out of the back windows. “I think it was an animal.”
Blanche pulled over to the side of the road and all three women looked at Erin.
Erin was staring out of the side window. “Maybe it was just a log or something,” she said in a very small voice.
“Should I turn around?” Blanche asked.
All of the women were silent as they mulled it over.
Cecile thought: “Great. This is going to take forever and I really need to get some sleep so I can make that jerk look like an idiot to my boss tomorrow.”
Erin thought: “Please, PLEASE don’t be an animal. I can’t handle that right now.”
Whitney thought: “Wouldn’t it be cool if it were a dead body?” She smiled at her thoughts and was thankful no one could see her expression.
Blanche thought: “I’m going to puke and everyone is going to watch. Swell.”
“We better make sure it’s not an animal or anything,” Erin said. “I couldn’t live with myself if we left an injured animal on the side of the road.”
“Right,” Blanche said, swallowing a dollop of bile back down her throat. “Let’s check it out.” She carefully maneuvered the car into a U-turn and slowly made her way back to the spot. She flipped her brights on to help them see. “I hate these country roads,” she mumbled.
“You were the one who wanted to stay off the main roads,” Cecile said.
“Well yeah,” Blanche snapped back. “I don’t want to get a DUI, thank you very much.”
“There!” Erin said while leaning forward and pointing to a dark shape in the road. “That must be what we ran over.”
Blanche’s foot eased off the accelerator and the van inched forward. The shape began to slowly materialize before their eyes as the headlights exposed it.
“Oh my God,” Cecile gasped. “Is that a …” she clapped a hand over her mouth in horror and Whitney finished her sentence for her.
“… a body?!”
Blanche’s foot jumped to the brake and the van jolted to a halt causing all three women to jerk forward in their seats. The vehicle was now only a few feet away from the object in the road. The bright headlights illuminated the shadowy object and all four women sat transfixed as they stared at a tuft of reddish-blonde hair caressing one thin, bare shoulder.
It was definitely a body.
The three words to use in a story this week are:
Thanks for reading.