My first post was a story that consisted entirely of one-syllable words and contained no e‘s. This time, I did the same thing, except instead of e, I eliminated all o‘s.
I sat in her truck bed with a gray cat named Zeus and a mesh bag filled with cash. She said her name was Beth, which may have been true, but I lied and said my name was Star.
I leaned back and let the warm breeze pet my skin. Zeus curled up by my face and purred; he knew things had changed.
At the state line, I paid Beth and thanked her, and I walked the last mile with Zeus in my arms.
Ma was in the yard with shears and a trash can. She trimmed each bush with grace, as if it was an art.
“Hi Ma,” I called as I walked up the drive.
She set her shears in the grass and dabbed at her sweat with her sleeve. I laid Zeus in the grass and hugged Ma. Her squeeze was like a snake’s but it made me feel safe. Zeus sniffed the grass and pawed at a bee. I felt peace as I watched him act like a real cat.
“Did he put up a fight?” Ma asked.
“Nah. He laughed ‘til his gut burst. He threw a wrench at me.”
We knelt in the grass and played with Zeus. “He’ll have a nice life here,” Ma said. She raised him up and rubbed his fur with her cheek.
“As will I,” I said. “As will I.”
Ma brewed tea and we sat in lawn chairs in the sun. I felt it burn, yet I stayed where I was. My place was in the light, in the warmth.
Ma smiled, but she sat hunched with fear. She stared at my bruised neck while she bit her lip.
“Ma, I’ll be fine,” I said. “I’m safe here.”
“He’ll burn in hell,” she cried.
“Yes, he will.”
When the sun set, we linked arms and went in. The air smelled like pie. Ma gave Zeus milk, and when he’d lapped it all up, we curled up in the spare bed with fresh sheets. I knew I’d have the best dreams I’d had in ten years.