Small Town Economy
by Rhonda Waterfall
Julie says, "When I was in college I had sex with my history
Prof," and shrugs her shoulders.
"Me too," Kim screams and the small gathering laughs.
"I used to have sex with guys for rides home," Lisa
says and laughs while the small gathering stops laughing and
looks at Lisa and then at her boyfriend Trent who stands at
Trent steps back and asks, "Really?"
Lisa looks at the faces of her friends and then at Trent and
says, " No, not really."
Trent exhales and adjusts his tie and places his arm back around
Lisa and Lisa's friends laugh behind clenched jaws. Lisa watches
their faces relax and thinks, they know nothing about economy.
The RCMP came and left after making everyone pour out all
the beer. It is dark and you are cold and stand beside the charred
logs of a fire that Daryl, Ross and Tim kicked apart. It will
be a long walk home. The boys get into their Beaumont's and
Camero's and rev the engines and spin the tires and spray gravel
into the night. Daryl leans out his car window and asks if you
need a ride.
Tammy rests against the headboard of Kevin's bed and studies
her reflection in the bureau mirror; her strawberry hair is
lightly tussled. She plays with the St. Christopher around her
neck that Kevin gave her yesterday for her fourteenth birthday.
She can hear him in the shower and tries to straighten out the
thoughts in her head. She wants to be strong and smart and ask
Kevin to use a condom. She can't believe she had an abortion
last week, she wants to tell him that too.
Your father hit you when he was mad but you could never
figure out what it was he was mad about. Now it is nothing,
he is long gone. You meet a boy at the Esso and he is smart
and brought you daisies and when his arms are around you everything
else fades away. At home things are damp and smell like mildew
but this warmth you have found is all yours, it is all you
will ever have and you will do anything for it.
Lisa decides to take a short cut through the mall to Holt Renfrew
and walks by a group of young girls in tight jeans and cropped
tops that display their stomachs still plump with baby fat and
is shocked that their mothers let them out. She is struck with
the resemblance of one of the girls, with strawberry blonde
hair that curls up at the shoulders, to an old girlfriend she
has not thought about in years. Lisa walks into Holt Renfrew
and tries to push back all the memories that the young girl
has stirred. She wonders why she has never told anyone why she
left and cannot explain why she never goes back. She buys a
skirt and walks out onto Granville Street and into a coffee
shop and buys a latte. She sits down by the window to wait for
Trent. She watches a tow truck drive by and looks hard at the
driver. Trent stands behind her saying her name but she does
not hear him, he places his hand on hers and she jumps.
"What were you thinking about?" he asks.
"Nothing," she says.
It's career day at school and you take a pamphlet on Anthropology
home to your mom. She reads the program description and drops
it on the table then empties an ashtray into the garbage under
the kitchen sink and lights a smoke and asks, "Why can't
you just marry a tow truck driver and settle down?"
You wait till she is sleeping and pack a few things into your
gym bag and leave the house. It is raining but you stop at the
7-11 and talk to a few people you know and see Tammy drive by
with Gord in his tow truck. You walk up to the highway and stand
with your thumb out.
Tammy watches her son walk through the front door of the elementary
school and is saddened that he never turned around to wave goodbye.
Tammy walks to the Safeway and buys sausages and pancake mix
for dinner. As she leaves she sees Gord's truck parked by the
Esso and walks over. Gord smiles when he sees her and says,
Tammy gets in the truck and Gord starts the engine and says,
"Let's go for a little ride."
They drive past the airport and park down by the ocean and
watch the ships at the government docks. Gord opens the glove
box and pulls out a can of beer. He takes a drink and passes
it to Tammy, she takes a drink and gives him a kiss. She studies
his face, how the extra pounds he has put on over the years
show in his jaw. He pulls Tammy close and kisses her and she
smiles and thinks about what his baby girl would look like.
You are pregnant and when you tell Kevin he says it's
not his. You walk home in the rain and wonder what you are
going to do. You think about killing yourself, you think about
running away; you want to die, die, die. Your feet are wet
and cold and a truck pulls over and it is Gord asking if you
need a ride and you do but not home. You drive past the 7-11
and see Tammy on the corner and want to talk to her but Gord
is going to take you for coffee. He is kind to you and says
that tomorrow he is going to take you out for dinner at the
Taverna. You like Greek food.
has the most lovely name.