Cassidy.

What a long time away!

Since it has been a while since I posted, I’ll tell you that I have several things in the works, but since some of the projects include other busy bees, I can’t tell you too much about them yet.

But… I do always have what I call side projects, and this may be quickly turning into one. And not the usual fare, either. It’s an untitled story so far, and I hope you’ll enjoy it.

***

Leaves circled the yard in mini hurricanes of red and yellow. Despite her coat, Cassidy shivered, pushing her hands as far as they’d go into the shallow pockets of her worn coat.

The trailer sat near the edge of town. A beaten white pickup sat behind it, and almost obscured bt the treeline, an old Toyota with a cracked windshield, missing the front two tires.

The truck – an old service vehicle that could have been any make was still usable. Cassidy had good memories of it, as she’d used the pickup to get her first license. The Toyota was a complete loss. It hadn’t been used for anything but storage for years.

Cassidy told herself that she needed a plan, some sort of idea about what she should take and what she would leave. It had been four years since she’d been inside the trailer, and she wasn’t sure what might be in there that she would want. But she wasn’t comfortable with the idea of having everything scrapped, either.

The one time she’d entered her Mother’s home, and was old enough to remember it, she was unpleasantly surprised with the way she was living.

Twenty years old, and this place still reduced Cassidy to the sixteen year old girl she had been at that visit.

The smell of cedar, the woods, the wind were comforting. It was the closed, cylindrical space of the trailer that frightened her. Too much like a prison cell.

Or a tomb.

***

Cassidy’s fear of small spaces was not something that she remembered from childhood. Her father said that the first panic attacks and bouts of claustrophobia came about in her teen years, sometime after that day in the trailer with her Mother.

“We tried to get you to tell us what happened,” Father said, “but you never would.”

Worse than facing her father was dealing with her stepmother, Nancy, with her crow-like eyes and pinched mouth. “What really happened to you out there, Cass?”

“Whatever it was that happened, is between me and my Mother,” Cassidy said. If she could remember what, maybe she would sound more convincing.

***

Nancy had raised Cassidy as far back as she could remember.

Cassidy always knew that her biological mother, her father’s ex-wife, existed, but she might have well been a myth for all that she knew of the woman. Nancy was up with her in the morning, cooking breakfast, nursing her when she was sick, attending parent-teacher conferences. She bandaged scraped knees, told stories, gave out hugs without prompting and called her endearments in Spanish. Cassidy knew the meanings behind the lilting words long before they were explained beause of the look in Nancy’s eyes when she spoke them. Nancy read her stories at night,  and she would listen breathlessly to Where the Wild Things Are and Harry Potter.

Cassidy felt loved.

It wasn’t until later, after years of asking questions that she never got complete answers to, that she began to wonder about where her mother was and why it was forbidden to talk about her, that Cassidy began to doubt Nancy’s place in her life, or that she had a right to be in it at all.

What she did get from her parents was as condensed as a child’s version of a classic book, so far away from the real events, void of the sex, blood and pain that made the story anything resembling the original version. It wasn’t until she was able to do her own research that the pieces came together, and Cassidy finally demanded to meet her real mother.

***

Cassidy wasn’t even the name she was born with.

Finding out that part of her history, sitting in front of a computer in the local library made her feel lost in a way that she couldn’t name.

Cassidy was the maiden name of her Father’s mother. She was born Pamela Ann in a small town in central California, a stopping spot between the end of one interstate and an unfinished highway, that she had never heard of before.

 At the time of her birth, Cassidy’s parents had been married five years. But not long after, things began to fall apart. There was a record of domestic disputes.

That wasn’t a surprise. Cassidy suspected that her parent’s marriage had met an unhappy, messy end.

What surprised her was the mention of Nancy Palmero, her stepmother, in a news story about an attempted assault.

———————————

©2013 Lori Titus

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