[A novel in progress by Janine Gleason. Artwork by Janine Gleason and Evi Pineschi.]
CHAPTER 4: Foiled by Aunt Flo!
Lola sat barefoot at the kitchen table and stared at Rebecca Soni’s picture on the box of cornflakes in front of her. Rebecca, wearing her personalized Olympic swim cap, was conquering the water with her perfect gold-medal breaststroke. Lola’s stomach felt queasy and her chest felt tight. She awoke that morning in a sweat after another one of her drowning nightmares.
Eddy emerged from the bathroom dressed for work. Every day was a dress-casual day at Eddy’s office. He and his fellow accountants had long ago convinced management that their productivity increased ten-fold when wearing comfortable clothes. As a result, Eddy had now accumulated an impressive collection of t-shirts. This morning he wore a new one. Lola read the caption printed across his chest: Living in a State of Flux.
“Hmm,” Lola thought. “Me, too.” She did not feel at all well, rather shaky and light-headed like she might pass out.
“Eddy, do you think it’s possible to suffocate from holding your breath while having a bad dream?”
“I don’t know,” he said. “You had another water nightmare?”
“Yes. I dreamed that we won a free vacation to the Bahamas. When we got there, you convinced me to go sailing on a catamaran. But, I immediately fell overboard and plummeted to the bottom of the ocean while trying to hold my breath.”
“You seem to find that a pleasant thought,” Lola said.
“I’m smiling about the free trip—not about your drowning,” Eddy said.
It was 7:30 already and Lola had a big day ahead of her. Momentous, in fact. Today she would get into a swimming pool for the first time. Carol, the swim instructor, had already sent a text reminding Lola to be at the pool at 10:00 am sharp.
“I can’t wait,” Lola texted to Carol. It was a lie. Her stomach churned at the thought of stepping into deep, cold water. She poured her untouched bowl of dry cornflakes back into the box with Rebecca Soni.
“Girls, go brush your teeth and get ready to leave for school,” Lola said. As usual, Mo and April had shared a breakfast muffin, scarfing down the few bites while standing near the table.
“Mo, after school can we practice twerking again?” April asked her sister.
Mo shot April the stink eye and whispered “shhh.”
Lola glared at her teenager. “Young lady, please tell me you are not teaching your little sister how to twerk.”
Mo craned her head forward, her eyes locked on her phone screen, and pretended to hear nothing.
“But, mom, I like to twerk,” April objected. “It’s fun!”
“No, April. That’s not something little girls do,” Lola said. She looked at Eddy who was gathering up his things to go to work. “Eddy, will you please tell your daughters to stop twerking?”
“What’s twerking?” Eddy asked.
“Look it up,” Lola said.
“I’ll show you, Daddy!” April said with enthusiasm.
“April, I said no!” The words from Lola’s mouth came out fast and sharp like a bark. “Now listen everyone. Twerking is banned. If I hear any more about twerking, there will be consequences.”
Lola’s thoughts turned back to swimming. As the girls walked down the hall, she waited for the sound of the bathroom door closing. Mo was known for slamming doors shut when she felt aggrieved. This morning the bathroom door was slammed hard.
Lola sighed. “You know what, Eddy? I think I just have to accept my fear of water and never go near it again.”
“Lola, we’ve talked about this so many times.” Eddy was almost ready to leave. “You gotta do something.”
Suddenly in the bathroom, Mo was heard yelling at her sister.
“April, stop that screeching! You sound retarded!”
April was making loud chimpanzee noises again.
“I’m telling Mom!” April cried.
“Tattletale!” Mo hissed.
At the front door, Eddy turned to Lola with his “What the hell” look.
“April’s been practicing pant-hooting like chimpanzees do,” Lola told him. “Ever since she watched a video about Jane Goodall.”
“Twerking and now pant-hooting?” Eddy said. “I’ve learned two new things already today. Is April going through a phase? Should we be worried?” He waved good-bye and continued through the front door without waiting for a reply.
By the time the girls returned to the kitchen, Lola’s phobia had taken control again. She decided she would renege on her commitment to Ellen Drowne to be a pool parent. She took a deep breath.
“April, the other day your teacher asked me to help out with your swim class. I told her I would do it. I even signed up for swimming lessons. But now I know I can’t go through with it. Ms. Drowne may have to cancel your swimming for this term. I’m sorry, April. I’m really, really sorry. I just can’t do it.”
Lola’s eyes filled with tears. She bent over to give April a hug, but April pulled away without looking at her mom.
“No-oo!” April shrieked. “I want to go swimming! I WANT! TO! GO! SWIMMING!!!”
Just then, the front door flew open and Eddy rushed back inside, having forgotten his Metro Card for the subway. Stopped in his tracks by the commotion, he stared at three hysterical females in the kitchen.
“What on earth is going on?” Eddy shouted. “April, why don’t you howl a little louder. I don’t think the neighbors across the hall can hear you.”
Mo had entered the fray also at high volume.
“Mom! Stop being a wimp! What’s the big deal about going in the pool? Just get over it and go in the water!”
“Maureen, do not yell at your mother!” Eddy yelled.
“Lola, come on.” Eddy lowered his voice; his tone conveyed impatience. “If you’re worried about wearing a swimsuit, I’m sure there are others in the same boat.”
Lola glared at Eddy. His misplaced concern hung in the air like a bad odor.
“Excuse me!” she said, her voice rising. “I am more fit than you are. That is not the issue here. Surely you know that by now. Oh, but, I forgot!” She pointed at his t-shirt. “You’re living in a state of flux.”
“Mom! Do something to deal with this!” Mo grabbed her school bag and headed for the door. “Shannon is texting me. I have to go.”
“I have to go, too,” Eddy said. “I’m going to be late for work. Let’s get this figured out, Lola.”
* * *
Lola walked the two blocks to school with April, who had calmed down by the time they arrived. April gave her mom a quick hug and ran to her teacher.
Returning home, Lola thought about empathy.
I hope Mo discovers empathy someday. Eddy, too, for that matter.
Her family’s fracas in the kitchen that morning was sobering.
This is ridiculous … I can’t let April down like this.
By the time she got home, Lola had talked herself back into going to her swim lesson. She took her time laying out her new swimsuit on the bed along with the accessories she had purchased. With the assistance of a kindly sales clerk, she had chosen a conservative one-piece suit in a bright cherry red color.
“This way the lifeguard can see my drowned body when I sink to the bottom of the pool,” she had half-joked to the clerk.
In addition to being chlorine-resistant, the swimsuit fabric was touted to have “full-body power-mesh control.”
Full control … Hah. That’s what Eddy would like!
She folded her new swim towel—the red printed lips matched the red of her swimsuit—and stowed it in her bag. Her neon pink swim cap matched her pink goggles. She bought the oversized goggles, figuring she would need good peripheral vision in the pool. She worried that she might have a panic attack if she couldn’t see her instructor at all times.
The night before, Lola had modeled her new swimsuit for Eddy.
“How do I look?” Lola had asked her husband.
“Nice. With that bright red color I hardly notice your cellulite.” This was Eddy trying to be helpful.
“I have a new swimsuit and you notice my cellulite? Ya know, Eddy, it’s hard to annoy me. But you’re doing a really good job right now,” Lola had told him.
Eddy had shrugged off her comment.
So I have some cellulite. Big deal. As if Eddy’s some great catch.
She stowed her new silicone ear plugs and nose clip in her bag, along with swim fins and a purple plastic water bottle that the store clerk recommended. She couldn’t imagine getting thirsty while swimming, but this was all so new. She also jammed two arm floats and a swim vest into the bag, which was now bulging with gear. She would have to carry the three pool noodles under her arm. Lugging them on the subway would be a pain, but there was no way she was leaving home without them. If all else failed, the noodles would save her from drowning. She had it figured out. Like three large upturned commas, one noodle would go under each arm and the third noodle between her legs. It was time to go meet Carol.
* * *
Seated on the subway, Lola tried to stay calm. The swim center was eleven stops away. Eleven stops to change her mind. Her stomach felt queasy. She thought about calling Carol to cancel at the last minute. But what lame excuse would she give? She reminded herself that millions of people go swimming and most of them probably don’t drown.
Lola always knew when severe anxiety was about to strike. A feeling of impending doom and a sense of losing control. She closed her eyes and mentally recited her mantra. Get a grip. Don’t panic. Stay rational.
She called Gabby. “Hi. I’m on my way to my first swim lesson, fighting a powerful urge to go back home. I think I’m losing my mind,” Lola blurted.
“You’re not losing your mind,” Gabby said. “Don’t give up, Lola. Never give up. New York is where people come to conquer their fears. I know you can do this.”
In an effort to distract her friend, Gabby turned the conversation to her own problems. “Brian left some naturist brochures on the kitchen table. I am pissed about it. As you know, I have zero interest in going nude camping.”
“I know,” Lola said.
“I just do not understand his fascination with it. He claims it’s very popular in Germany.”
“Who knew?” Lola said.
“Anyway, we managed to reach a compromise. So, thank you for that suggestion! It turns out there’s a clothing-optional camp upstate. He can go ahead and spend his three-week vacation cavorting in his birthday suit. The kids and I will visit on the weekends. Fully clothed. I am going to finish my degree this summer, come hell or high water.”
“Yes,” Lola said. “You have to do that.”
Gabby decided not to mention that Brian was in serious hot water at his job. She would save that for their next cake conference.
“Oh, and I met Jamal, my new adviser. He’s really young.”
“Gabby, I’m at my stop. I’ll talk to you later.”
“Bye, Lola. Break a leg in the pool!”
Gabby regretted her choice of words after she hung up.
* * *
At the swim center, Lola checked in at the front desk and proceeded to the women’s locker room to change. When she took off her underwear, she gasped. Aunt Flo! Two days early! She quickly put on her swimsuit and found a tampon dispenser next to the row of sinks. She dropped the coins in the slot. They clanked out at the bottom. The machine was empty.
Lola wrapped her new swim towel with the red lips around her waist and hurried to the front desk to explain her predicament to the attendant. He assured her he would send someone right away to refill the dispenser. As she returned to the locker room, she heard the attendant’s voice booming over the intercom throughout the building:
“Attention, maintenance. Urgent. Restock the ladies’ hygiene in the locker room. Repeat. Bring ladies’ hygiene to women’s locker room ASAP.”
Lola put her head down and rushed back to wait for the delivery. Minutes passed. Obtaining a tampon was now mission critical. What was taking so long?
At last, there was a loud knock on the locker room door and a deep voice shouted “Maintenance!” The janitor, a short, elderly man wearing coveralls handed Lola an industrial-sized package of sanitary napkins.
“No! I need a tampon! I’m going swimming!” Lola, unaware that she was shouting at the unfortunate man, heard her words catapulting down the tiled corridor.
“I’m sorry, miss,” he said meekly. “This is all we have.”
Lola changed quickly into her street clothes and went to find Carol, who was waiting for her poolside. Lola explained what had happened and said she was sorry but she had to go home.
“Oh, that’s too bad,” Carol said. “I’ll have to charge you for a missed lesson. How about if I text you to reschedule?”
“Sure.” Embarrassed and in a hurry to leave, Lola snapped the word at Carol.
* * *
On the subway ride home from the swim center, Lola felt discouraged and desperate. Here she had tried to think of everything, yet she didn’t even get in the water. She hoped no one at the dinner table that night would ask about her day. Worse was the thought of returning to the pool.
I’m too humiliated to see that maintenance man again.
She closed her eyes and tried to conjure positive thoughts over the din inside the subway car. It wasn’t long before she heard Flo Rida’s “Good Feeling” ringtone coming from her bag. April’s teacher, Ellen Drowne, was calling.
“Lola, I’m sorry but we had a situation on the playground this morning,” Ms. Drowne said. “Your daughter is a little upset. Understandably. She’s here with me and wants to speak with you.”
Ms. Drowne put April on the phone.
“Mommy.” April was trying not to sob.
“April, sweetie! Are you all right?”
April had seemed fine when Lola dropped her at school. Was she still upset from the morning fracas?
“Please. Tell me what happened,” Lola said, hoping the call wouldn’t drop in the approaching subway tunnel.
“We had to read our rules in class,” April said. “Ms. Drowne said mine were the best. I get to be Golden Star Pupil of the Week.”
Lola had read April’s homework assignment the night before. The students had to make a list of “Rules To Make Our School a Better Place.” April’s list was very thoughtful:
- Do not talk in the hallways.
- Always be nice to others.
- If someone gets hurt, help them.
- If someone forgot something and you can share, share.
- Keep your hands to yourself.
- If you need to say sorry to someone, look them in the eyes when you say sorry.
- Follow directions the first time they are given.
“Ms. Drowne taped my list on the wall,” April said. “I got to wear the gold crown. Everybody clapped.”
“But April, that’s wonderful!” Lola said confused. “So, what happened sweetie?”
Between sobs, April told her mom how she went from wearing the gold crown to crying on the playground. As best Lola could make out, a classmate named Junia got jealous of all the attention April was getting. When the class went outside for morning recess, Junia enlisted a couple of other girls to go on the attack.
“Junia said I was ugly,” April said, sobbing quietly. “She said nobody was my friend and nobody would play with me ever again.”
Suddenly the northbound number 1 lurched to a halt. “I’m sorry, sweetie,” Lola shouted above the train screech.
“I was doing double dutch with my friends. We were taking turns doing German red-hot peppers.”
“What’s German red-hot peppers?”
“When you jump rope really fast and you say hotten-toten-poten-taten-mutter-morder-atten-tats-verrater.” April tried to pounce on the words to make the sound of jumping rope to German red-hot peppers, but she could only choke them out between sobs. “And Junia said I’m not invited to her party and she shoved me.”
Lola clenched her teeth at hearing the hurt in her daughter’s voice. She knew how excited April was about Junia’s party. Junia’s mother was known for going all out when it came to party planning. Last year, Junia and her birthday guests were entertained by none other than Marsha the Mystic. By all accounts, the fortune-teller had been a huge hit. To be excluded from a Junia party was like having Santa forget your address. Lola understood that Junia’s un-invitation would be a badge of humiliation for April.
Just then a purple pool noodle escaped from Lola’s grip and rolled onto the floor of the subway car, but no one seemed to notice.
“April sweetie, we’ll talk about this tonight, ok?” Lola said as she bent over to retrieve the loose noodle. “And you know what? After school, we’ll go to the toy store and get you something special for being this week’s Golden Star Pupil.”
Lola couldn’t see April nod in agreement. The 1 train started to move forward as Ms. Drowne came back on the phone.
“Lola, I want you to know that we have a school policy regarding mean behavior and I will be taking action to address the incident on the playground this morning.
“By the way,” she added, “our swimming class starts in three weeks. Thank you again for volunteering for pool duty. I don’t know what I would have done if you had been unavailable.”
“Of course. See you then,” Lola replied with forced enthusiasm.
* * *
Lola slumped into her favorite chair in her living room. The chair was old and needed new upholstery, but the large flower print in orange, yellow, and white brightened her mood. She gazed at the small patch of sunlight that found its way through the skyscraper canyons outside her window to land on her floor. After a few moments deep in thought, she called Ellen Drowne.
“I am really sorry,” Lola told her, “but I can’t be a volunteer pool parent this term. I should have been honest with you from the start. I am deathly afraid of getting near that much water. I hope you can find someone to take my place. I know I promised and I know it’s short notice. I’m really sorry.”
Ms. Drowne exhaled a long, deep breath through the phone.
“I understand. I am disappointed. I wish you had told me this before. This puts me in a bad spot.”
“I know,” Lola said. “I really hope you can find another parent to help you.”
“I’m not optimistic, but I’ll keep my fingers crossed,” Ms. Drowne said, her words brittle and all business.
“And how is April doing?” Lola asked, wanting to change the subject.
Ms. Drowne reported that she had spoken to Junia and the other girls about the playground incident that morning and April seemed to have recovered.
“I know you’ll keep an eye on my daughter,” Lola said.
Minutes later, Lola’s phone lit up with a push notification for an email that went out to all the parents:
SUBJECT: URGENT REQUEST FOR VOLUNTEER POOL PARENT! Due to an unforeseen cancellation, I regret to inform you that swimming classes will be canceled this term unless a reliable parent volunteers. Please contact me asap, if you can be a pool parent! -Thanks!! Ellen Drowne
Maligning gossip sped over the internet and it wasn’t long before most of the parents knew exactly who to blame for the “unforeseen cancellation” of swim class. Lola was taken aback by comments from some parents on the school message board. “Breaking a commitment sets a bad example” and “Thanks for depriving my child of the opportunity to swim” were especially hurtful jabs that came from two mothers with whom Lola had often chatted while waiting for school to let out.
However, it was a private email from a mother who felt the need to drag April into the picture that stung the most. The sender, a status-conscious woman whose daughter Lola had once babysat, wrote that April deserved to be disinvited from Junia’s party. Evidently, commentary about the playground incident was lighting up social media.
Lola felt awful. She had let down everyone, it seemed. Especially April. Feeling besieged, she called Gabby.
“My day has sucked.” She told Gabby about her aborted misadventure at the swim center.
“I can’t go back there,” Lola said. “After yelling at the janitor, snapping at my instructor, and fleeing the building … I’m so embarrassed.”
She went on to tell about Junia and the mean girls who made April cry. “In front of her friends, April was disinvited from her classmate’s party,” Lola said.
“Oh,” Gabby said. “Kids can be so hurtful.”
“It’s not just the kids! I reneged on being a pool volunteer—I know, I know! It was a bad thing to do!—and now angry parents have mounted a flame campaign against me. People are very upset with me,” Lola said.
Gabby was about to ask Lola if she had rescheduled her swim lesson when Lola’s doorbell ding-donged in the background.
“I’ll talk to you later,” Lola said. “Someone’s at my door.”
It was a delivery for Eddy. Probably more t-shirts. He was always ordering more to add to his collection. She set the box on the kitchen table and glanced at the clock. It was time to go pick up April from school.
* * *
April was waiting at the school entrance and did not look happy.
“Are you feeling better?” Lola asked.
“NO!” April was emphatically not feeling better.
“Well, let’s walk to the toy store,” Lola said. “I promised I would take you and on the way you can tell me about the rest of your day.”
Lola learned that Ms. Drowne had designated the entire week as Fun With Family and Friends Week. As the Golden Star Pupil for that week, April was the first one chosen to tell the class about her most favorite vacation with her family.
“And what did you tell the class about your favorite vacation?” Lola asked.
“I told all about going to the beach in Florida and collecting seashells and going swimming. And that I found a big conch shell.”
“April, that never happened,” Lola said. “We never went to Florida. We never collected seashells. And we’ve never gone swimming at the beach. How could you say that?”
“I was doing make-believe. Like I play at home.” April sounded testy.
“I see,” Lola said.
She didn’t want to accuse April of lying until she could ask Ms. Drowne whether her instructions to the class had been clear. Was April supposed to talk about a real event that happened? Or was it ok that April told about a pretend vacation? Lola did not want to scold April for having a good imagination if she had simply misunderstood the teacher.
Then April said that Junia was mean to her again.
“What did Junia say to you?”
“That my seashell vacation was stupid. She said she has a hundred conch shells. Not just one.”
“That wasn’t very nice,” Lola said.
“Junia said she can go swimming whenever she wants to. Mom, when are we going swimming?” April raised her voice.
Lola noticed that an elderly woman passing by shot a stern look of concern in their direction.
“We will go swimming soon,” Lola said. “I want us to go on your favorite vacation for real.”
In the toy store, April darted carelessly from one display to the next. When she accidentally toppled a carefully perched arrangement of stuffed animals, the watchful store manager cleared her throat loudly from behind the counter and looked at Lola disapprovingly.
“April, say you’re sorry, please.” Lola avoided looking at the pile of tangled furry bodies on the display table.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry … I’m sorry, I’m sorry … I’m sorry, I’m sorry … ”
April proceeded to skip around the store from one display to the next, her sing-songy “I’m sorrys” increasing in pitch, sounding less and less sincere.
“April! Stop it! One ‘I’m sorry’ is enough,” Lola said. “More than one is excessive. If there’s nothing here that interests you, let’s go home.”
Outside the store, April announced that she didn’t want any toys. Toys were for babies.
“What I really, really want,” April said, “is a microscope.”
“A microscope? Why do you want a microscope?”
“To look at sand. I want to get sand from the beach and bring it home in a jar and look at it up close,” April said. “When are we going to the beach, mom?”
“I don’t know, April. Someday. Someday, for sure …”
Eddy was opening his package when Lola and April arrived home. He had just removed a clear plastic bag from the box. The label on the bag announced the contents in bold text: Joy, The Inflatable Love Doll. Lola stared at the unnatural face peering grotesquely from its see-through seclusion inside the plastic bag. With its oversized red mouth, the deflated Joy unmistakably advertised the promise of something naughty.
“What on godsgreenearth is that, Eddy!”
Lola glared at her husband and grabbed the bag from his hands.
“Did you order this?”
“No. No, I did not,” Eddy stammered. He pulled out a note card that he noticed inside the box.
“April, sweetie, please go start on your homework,” Lola said, guiding April out of the kitchen toward her bedroom.
“Some of the guys at the office sent it to me as a prank.” Eddy’s face was bright crimson as he tried to explain. Trying to sound nonchalant, he sounded awkward instead. His half-hearted chuckle sounded more like mewling.
“And why would they do that?” Lola wanted to know.
“I guess because I asked them about twerking. I told them I didn’t know what it was,” Eddy said.
“Uh huh,” Lola said. “And what does the note say?”
Eddy handed Lola the note card with its hand-printed message. She read it out loud: Hey Eddy, twerking is easy when you have a partner! Enjoy Joy!! The card was signed by three of Eddy’s accountant-friends.
“It’s not funny,” Lola said. She pulled open the kitchen junk drawer that contained a roll of wrapping tape and handed it to Eddy.
“Put Joy back in her box, slap on the return label and get her out of our house right now.”
“No problem,” Eddy said sheepishly.
“I am so stressed right now!” The words shot rough from Lola’s throat. “I’m trying to deal with water phobia! April’s friends are being mean to her! And now I have to worry about your friends sending sex toys to our house!”
* * *
When Mo came home from school, Lola was waiting for her by the front door.
“Hello Maureen,” Lola said. When Lola called her daughter by her given name, it signaled that trouble was on the horizon.
“Hey Mom,” Mo said quietly. “What’s goin’ on?”
“What’s going on is if I ever catch you twerking or hear that you have been discussing twerking or teaching twerking, you and your beloved cell phone will be separated. For a long time. I mean it. And while I’m at it, see the kitchen floor. You’ll be washing and waxing it, too,” Lola said. “Have I made myself clear?”
Mo mumbled yes and retreated to her bedroom. She had started to develop a sense for which battles to fight, and which ones to leave alone.
* * *
That night, Eddy suggested that they all go out for their favorite pizza. The incident with the love doll was still fresh, and the four of them needed a time out. Their usual booth at the pizza place was empty, which Eddy took as a good omen. Lola’s mood always seemed to improve when she sat in the booth next to the BaadAsssss movie poster and let her eyes linger on Mario van Peebles.
With their order served, Lola wanted to find out if April was feeling more positive about school, without mentioning the Golden Star Pupil incident.
“What did you learn today?” she asked April.
“We’re studying South America,” April said. “There’s a big map on the wall. Ms. Drowne said it’s a continent.”
“Yes,” Eddy said. “It is.”
“It’s where the Amazon is,” April said. “Is the Amazon named after the store?”
“No, April.” Lola laughed. “The Amazon in South America has been around a lot longer than the store.” April seemed to have rebounded from the ugly incidents at school that day. Lola was heartened by her younger daughter’s resilience.
Mo, who had been silent, suddenly exploded with indignation.
“Do you even know how embarrassing that is?” Mo sat up straight and craned her neck forward like a swan taking flight. She stared at the customer sitting at a nearby table. He was using the latest model tablet device—the very tablet for which Mo had been needling her parents to buy for her.
“What are you talking about?” Eddy asked Mo.
“That he has one, and I don’t! Everyone has one. Except me! That guy is so old, he probably doesn’t even know how to use it.”
The new tablet in the man’s possession might as well have been a loudspeaker broadcasting Mo’s public humiliation.
“Mo, please keep your voice down,” Eddy said.
Lola looked discreetly at the man holding the coveted device.
“He looks to be in his forties,” Lola said to her daughter. “He’s probably about my age.”
“I rest my case,” Mo said, sulking. She slumped against the wall at the end of the booth while her parents and younger sister finished eating.
* * *
Outside the restaurant, the night air had an early-spring crispness that induced a feeling of virtue in Eddy. Quiet prevailed—quiet for New York, anyway—and he gently took hold of Lola’s hand as the four of them walked home. Suddenly, loudly, a female voice called out from across the street.
“Eddy! Eddy! Is that you, Lalo?” The voice was sultry and gliding.
Dangerously dodging traffic, the woman teetered across the street, stepped onto the sidewalk, and made her way toward the four of them. Eddy stopped speechless in his tracks. Lola found herself staring at the impossibly-high leopard-print stilettos on the two feet getting closer and closer. How the heck does she … she must be a movie star … know Eddy.
“Lalo! I thought it was you!” The light from the street lamp glanced off her arctic white teeth. “It’s me! Marlena!” She rushed at Eddy and planted a noisy smooch on his cheek.
“Oh, Marlena. I hardly recognized you,” Eddy said.
Lola turned her attention to the shimmering smudge of pink lipstick on Eddy’s right cheek. A light jab from Lola prompted Eddy to speak.
“This is Lola, my wife, and our two girls,” Eddy stammered. “Are you visiting New York? The last I heard you were living in Miami.”
Marlena smiled at them all and began a fast-clipped chatter animated by the occasional toss of her shimmery tresses, causing her large gold hoops to swirl.
“I recently moved here to live with my sister! We just opened a spa together! You should come for a massage! We have some introductory offers! Our specialty is Swedish! You too, Lola!”
She thrust her card at Eddy. “Call me! Anyway, gotta run. It was great seeing you, Lalo.” She blew an air kiss in his direction and sashayed off.
The noise of the traffic got louder, causing Lola to shout. “Who is she? And why does she call you Lalo?”
“It’s a long story,” Eddy said.
[To be continued …]
~ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: THANK YOU TO MISS EMMA D. FOR PERMISSION TO REPRINT HER LIST OF RULES TO MAKE OUR SCHOOL A BETTER PLACE~