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Jane Kennedy Sutton
Jane Kennedy Sutton
ArcheBooks Publishing, August 2008
Genre: Contemporary Romance
A funny, poignant adventure of a 40-something woman taken on the ride of her life.
Excerpt From THE RIDE
Chirrrrp, chirrrrp, chirrrrp. There it went again. Like a prehistoric bird had flown into her bedroom. Chirrrp, chirrrp, chirrrp. Harsh sounds ending another night’s restless sleep emanated from the small object barely visible among the Kleenex, books, and clutter that occupied the surface of her bedside table. Barbie’s hand flailed wildly in an attempt to put an end to the noise. She resented the intrusion and yearned for the dignity of waking up naturally. Yet without it, she knew she might sleep for days or years or forever.
That thought soothed her.
She closed her eyes and pictured her petite, delicate body, clothed in crisp purple silk pajamas, lying on white satin sheets surrounded by fluffy pillows in a king-sized round bed. Bright sunlight filtered into the room creating rainbows upon the wall as it reflected off a Baccarat vase filled with two-dozen fresh white roses. A young, virile, gorgeous hunk slept soundlessly beside her. Stretching seductively, she smiled while slowly opening her eyes.
“Damn, damn, damn,” Barbie mumbled as reality dawned. She was in her dark and stuffy bedroom in an ordinary queen-sized bed with rumpled mismatched cotton sheets. A picture of a blue Smurf decorated one pillowcase, a half-embroidered flower the other. A plastic yellow vase held a bouquet of hairbrushes, pencils with broken points, and a dried-out ballpoint pen or two. If turned upside down, a collection of buttons, coins, paper clips and rubber bands would trickle out instead of water.
And her day started like every day did, with despair and melancholy vying for her attention.
She stared at the bed’s other occupant, who, as usual, dominated more than his share of the mattress and covers. Curled up in a fetal position, mouth agape, Ken sounded more like an idling motorcycle than a human, and it set her nerves on edge.
Neither young, virile, nor gorgeous, Ken had occupied the same spot every night for the last twenty-three years. His hairy midsection protruded from under the sheet. He wore his thinning gray hair long on top, in a futile effort to disguise a shiny bald spot that began to plague him a couple of years ago. Now the strands lay inert on the pillow like lifeless snakes.
Petite or delicate did not exactly describe Barbie’s 5 feet 9 inch, big-boned frame that carried more than its share of extra weight. Holey white cotton underwear mysteriously clung to her hips by one tiny elastic thread that managed to stay intact through endless wash cycles. Her twenty-year old “St ll craz aft all these ye rs” tee shirt provided a sad commentary about her wardrobe and her state of mind. Though some letters had worn off, the sentiment was accurate.
Like a virus, Barbie believed she caught a permanent case of the crazies soon after her marriage. For a few brief moments after the inhospitable alarm had jarred her awake, she believed she could be that sleek girl in bed with a gorgeous guy. That was definitely crazy.
She poked her index finger into Ken’s arm, hoping to quiet him. He snorted, rolled over pulling the sheet with him, and instantly resumed snoring.
“It's a snooze button, Ken, not a command,” she said, pressing the alarm off again. “In twenty-three years, you haven’t once managed to roll out of bed to exercise before work. Did you really believe you’d do it today?”
The only response to her question was a whistling noise coming from his nose.
Resisting the urge to put her foot into his backside and send him rolling to the floor, she rose mumbling and grumbling on her way to the bathroom.
“The beauty fairy definitely didn’t visit you last night, Barbie Anderson,” she said to the creature in the mirror with the puffy red eyes. “You forgot to take off your Halloween mask.” The shape in the glass responded by sticking out its tongue.
Ignoring the ogre in the mirror, she brushed her teeth and splashed water on her face. Although in the last couple of years her hair had begun transforming from a mousy brown to more of a rat gray hue, its wildness had not lessened. Her hands worked to flatten it with little success. She put on Ken’s old navy-blue bathrobe, tied the belt, and shuffled downstairs to make coffee as she did every day.
She had no reason to believe that this particular Thursday would be any different from any other of the approximately 8,395 days of her marriage.
While filling the coffee decanter with water, she looked at the withered African violets decomposing in colorful pots on the windowsill and sighed. I used to care.
As the coffee dripped, she peered out the window of their slightly rundown house on the outskirts of Los Angeles. I never wanted to move here, Ken, but you insisted. Woods behind us, Mr. Kincaid’s cornfield to our left and the Harrison’s avocado garden to the right. This house never fit in and neither did I. But I tried. I put all my energy into this place, and when Jessica lived here, it actually felt like a home.
She cracked eggs and dumped their contents into a bowl.
My dear Jessica, this is the time of day I always miss you the most. I’m so sorry. I wish I could change that day. I wish you would contact me.
While she cooked, she held her breath, listening, needing to hear Jessica’s laugh. She heard only the sounds of sausage sizzling in the pan. What I wouldn’t give to see you smile and hear you call me Mom again.
She placed the full plate of scrambled eggs and sausage on the table just as Ken walked into the room as though over the years he had honed his ability to know the precise moment cooking had ceased and eating could begin. He opened the paper, picked up his fork, and shoveled it into the eggs.
Too early to introduce food to her system, Barbie poured herself a cup of coffee and sat down across from him.
“Ken,” she said with a cheerful lilt to her voice, “the backyard looks as if a colony of giant gophers has invaded. Can I ask what it is you’re doing out there?”
“I’m working on a,” he said, spewing egg, “project.”
Revolted, Barbie absently brushed a piece of egg onto the floor. “What sort of project?”
“Look, my work has nothing to do with you, so drop it, okay? Let me eat my breakfast in peace.”
"It’s my backyard, too, you know,” she countered, unwilling to give up easily. “I worked hard putting in the garden you dug up.” She had ignored the garden for more than two years, but now that it was gone, she yearned to work in it.
Burying his head in the newspaper as if some article about the nation’s economy had captivated his attention, Ken didn’t bother to reply.
Undaunted, Barbie said, “We’ve been in this house for over twenty years, and you have never lifted a finger—inside or out. I can’t help but be curious, I’d like to—\"
“Can I have more juice?” he interrupted, handing her his empty glass as if waiting on him made her life whole and worth living. Resisting the impulse to break the glass over his head, she stood and poured the juice. No good could come from pursuing the question when he had so effectively ended the conversation.
Once he left for work, the air in the house seemed lighter, easier to breath. Barbie, a compulsive list maker, grabbed her pad and pen, poured another cup of coffee, and started writing: …Unload dishwasher, take a shower, get a divorce, go back to school, join a gym, find a job, and commit suicide.
She thought about her best friend’s birthday and wrote: buy Lois a birthday gift. The phone rang. She answered on the third ring.
“Hello, my name is Robert McCarthy. May I please speak to Barbara Jane Anderson?”
“This is Barbie speaking and I’m not going to buy anything,” she replied impatiently.
“No, Mrs. Anderson, you don’t understand. I am not selling anything. I’m an attorney representing the estate of Patricia Dough?”
“Patricia Dough, the person I believe you refer to as Aunt Pat.”
“I do have an Aunt Pat, however, her last name is Smith. You must have the wrong number,” she said, relieved.
“Actually,” he replied, “her legal name is Dough, not Smith.”
“What do you mean legal name? Why would Aunt Pat have two names? Are you saying Doe as in deer or Dough as in money? What do you want? And what do you mean by her estate?” she asked in one breath, troubled without knowing why.
Jane Kennedy Sutton
Jane Kennedy Sutton Bio
For years Jane Kennedy Sutton
satisfied her passion for writing through correspondence with friends and family while living in Taiwan, Korea, England, the Netherlands, Italy and Saudi Arabia. Now a full-time resident of Fort Myers, Florida, Jane has switched to writing fiction. She is a member of the Florida Writers Association and the Gulf Coast Writers Association.
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Jane Kennedy Sutton Profile
, Jane Kennedy Sutton
ArcheBooks Publishing, August 2008
The preceding excerpt was taken from the book The Ride
complete approval by the author Jane Kennedy Sutton and/or the publisher ArcheBooks Publishing. This
information may not be re-used or redistributed in any manner.
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