Here’s Part III of the short fiction piece I wrote for my class. (Here are the links to Part I and Part II.) Comments, reactions, questions, and criticism are welcome (I have one more chance to turn in a revision, and it’s always good to keep revising, right?) The final part will be posted tomorrow. Hope you enjoy it!
“Oh, what are you reading?” Lucy leaned over to see.
Catherine opened the book to the middle, making no move to show Lucy the cover. “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.”
“Wow. It looks hard.”
Catherine’s eyes moved across the page silently.
“So, how many kids do you have?”
“How sweet! Well, now you have to tell me all about them!”
“There’s really not much to say.”
“Nonsense! Every mama likes to brag about her kids!”
Catherine sighed and closed her book. “The oldest is William.”
“Named after his father, of course!”
“Right. He’s twenty-three now. Then there’s Kelly. She’s twenty-one. And my youngest is John. He just turned eighteen.”
“So? Are they going to college? Are any of them married?”
“William was going to community college, but he quit. He’s trying to live off his guitar, or something. Kelly’s living with her boyfriend in some dump part of the city. And John dropped out of high school.”
“Goodness! Why?” Lucy leaned forward, her eyes lighting up with curiosity.
“He–well–he got into some stuff.” Catherine leaned away from Lucy and looked out the window at the vast expanse of desert below. “That is–he got in with a bad crowd, and he started partying and–drinking.”
“Ooh–I bet Bill wasn’t happy when he found out! Did he yell?”
Catherine’s eyes hardened. “That’s none of your business.”
“Goodness! What did he do?” Lucy licked her lips.
“I don’t know!”
“You don’t know?”
“I was at my mother’s at the time.”
“Oh, right–in Wyoming.”
Lucy paused. “Why did your mother move to Wyoming? Do they have better hospitals there?”
“She’s not having health problems!”
“Oh, Katie. You know you can tell me anything. We’ve always been friends!”
Catherine raised an eyebrow at Lucy. “I don’t remember us ever being friends. And please–call me Catherine.”
Lucy laughed. “I know Bill would still call you Katie. He loves nicknames! Remember how he used to call me Lu?”
“He calls me a lot of things, but Katie isn’t one of them,” Catherine muttered.
“What was that?”
“Lucy, it’s been twenty-five years since we were in high school. Bill’s changed. I’ve changed. I go by Catherine now.”
“My goodness! How depressing! Well, I don’t see why everything has to be so different. It’s probably not as different as you think! I mean, if you and Bill are still totally in love–”
“Well, and what if we aren’t?” Catherine snapped.
Lucy’s eyes widened. “Did you get in a fight?”
Catherine laughed bitterly.
Catherine let her head rest on the window. Her body suddenly relaxed into deadweight; her irritation evaporated.
Lucy started talking again, asking questions and acting melodramatic. Catherine ignored her. Lucy could not make things worse. Nothing could.