Blondes

Blondes have more fun, some people say. It’s all fine and good until someone gets hurt.

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(an excerpt of a work in progress)

Jorie was always putting out fires. It was not the way she had envisioned her life but here it was in her lap. If it wasn’t her children, it was her husband. If it wasn’t her husband and children, it was herself, lost in a burning house and trying to get to the ground floor. How would she see daylight again without getting burned? There was always this sort of negotiation. How many burns could she stand to live with? Counting the cost, always giving up something. Trade-offs.

She walked down the sidewalk on a sunny day feeling like she was part of something bigger than herself. She could smell hot dogs boiling too long in carts, and cigarette smoke from all sides, wafting. Then there was scent of May. It was surprisingly able to penetrate the smells of the city. She walked over a manhole cover and it left briefly, then returned when she was a block away. May. Too far from January to feel any winter chill, with only a hint of what June would bring. May clouds, breezes, and sweaters.

She felt like she was part of something bigger. But not this, no, not this city. This was too big. Even the small parts were too big to describe her. No, she felt as if she was part of a novel, a bit part in a big story about an enormous place. A cast of thousands of which she is the girl who brings the coffee and feels the doughnuts to see if they are still fresh. She yanks the dry ones and tosses them to the seagulls. Even the birds have a larger part than she does.

But most days she does not feel sorry for herself. Mostly she does what is expected of her. It is best not to upset the status quo. The existing state of affairs. People get jumpy when you try to do something that is above the expectations of your station. Not in your job description. They get agitated when it seems like you might want to make more of yourself than you were born into.

Oh sure, they will say that you should improve your life. They will talk about it as if it is something they have anything to do with. As if they are on a committee saying yea or nay, aye or no, oui or non. They are involved in every part of your life. Who are ‘they’, and how do they reach that status? She never considered being a ‘they’, but sometimes she resented being mis-cast, and on a deeper level, misunderstood. But once you go along with it, you’ve signed a contract.

Jorie stopped in front of a café and looked inside. Coffee like usual? Maybe a Danish or something. Another smell assaulted her nostrils and she looked next door. ‘Boldilocks Salon’ and a sign in bold red with a striking blond model’s head reading, ‘Dyes and touch-ups 20% off, Spring special’. Her fingers went to her mousey brown hair and she caught sight of her reflection in the window, then focused her eyes back to the banner and the model with the chic, short blond locks. She bit her lip, grabbed the door handle, and walked inside.

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