Read pt. 1 Pink Dress
Read pt. 2 Stranger
June 18, 2000
Once there were two little girls. The best of friends. So close, they don’t remember their first meeting. Their friendship, like the sun, always was. They wore matching pigtails with matching cornflower blue ribbons tied down their backs on the first day of kindergarten, ascending the stairs to the foreboding elementary school building hand in hand. They shared secrets, heartbreaks, and triumphs. Inseparable.
Until the year they both turned 16. Cora’s mom died. Lauren’s mom started dating Cora’s dad. Quickly, too quickly, they married. And in moved Lauren and her mother, crowding her house, her mother’s house, with their loud voices, all of their gaudy possessions, their annoying perfection.
Cora’s father gave Lauren an engraved gold locket on graduation day.
Cora’s father’s eyes shined with tears as Lauren gave her valedictorian speech.
Cora’s father walked Lauren down the aisle at her wedding.
Cora’s father gave a speech at the reception, calling Lauren his “shining, beautiful star.”
Of course, Lauren had gotten pregnant a year after her wedding. Her father had sent pictures, calling the new baby his first grandchild. Step-grandchild, she’d reminded him.
Cora’s fists clenched. She hadn’t seen Lauren in years. Not since she’d moved away from town. Lauren was a creature of habit. Grocery shopping every Sunday morning at the same big-box store. She trailed her at a distance, a dark cap pulled down over her eyes. Lauren cooed at the chubby baby in the pink dress sitting in the shopping cart, then took a few steps down the cereal aisle, leaving the baby unattended. Typical. This was her chance. In a fluid, silent motion, she scooped the baby from the cart, then ducked out of the back exit, where her car was waiting in the alley.
Lauren had stolen her family from her, now she was returning the favor.
Read pt. 4 Basil and Garlic