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Updated: Jan 19, 2022

"Momma, why do you suppose everybody in this town is afraid of a little rain? It's all folks talk about at the grocery store. I love a good storm myself. I mean, I get my best shuteye when it's all rumbly and windy. It's soothing, and I relax like a baby. I'm not a big fan of sunshine, and that's your fault for giving me this red hair, you know?"

"Shush girl! Our programs about to come on."

"Yes, Momma." Momma and me stay up late every Wednesday night to watch Carol Burnett and wrap it up with Night Gallery. I make the popcorn, and we don't move an inch from the couch until our programs are over unless one of us has to pee. About the only time, she lets me talk is when a commercial comes on, and lord knows I'm a talker. My mouth starts right up every time it's safe to yak like I never even stopped at all. I've been trying to spend a little more time with her since Daddy died and with me leaving tomorrow for Hollywood, squeezing in every second is essential. I know I drive her insane, which brings me a great deal of joy.

"Like I was saying, the rain, it's all the ladies talk about, and it's been weeks since all the flooding. Now every time it sprinkles, everybody in town freaks out like it's the end of the world. It's too bad Hollywood isn't in Seattle. That's all it does there is rain, ya know, momma?"


"I gotta follow my dreams, though. You always taught me that. As soon as I hit the big time, I'll send for you, and we'll live it up together on the West Coast like two peas in a pod momma."

"It's good you're getting out on your own. You're almost thirty, Hannah."

"Nah, I still got two years before I reach that milestone. Besides, everybody says I don't look a day over eighteen. By the time I'm thirty, I'll look twenty, and when I hit forty, I'll pass for thirty. Directors will be beating down my door for those roles because I'm more mature, and I look the part."

"Shush, Hannah."

I should have left sooner. I'm so sick of this town I can't even see straight. The heifer could care less if I followed my dreams. My father encouraged me, and that man loved to hear me ramble. He once told me that I gab so much my voice got stuck in his ears, and he could listen to it all day long working on the assembly line. Daddy said that it's the only reason he endured most days. The old hag hates me, and I know it. All my mother ever did was cheat on Daddy. He deserved better than what she had to offer.

It would have been nice to stick around and raise a family. Throughout high school, I couldn't take my eyes off Clifford. Marriage would have been in our future a hundred percent if he'd noticed me. You'd think it would have been easy with me being the tallest girl in the whole place. He wasn't even the most attractive fella, and he dressed funny for sure, but something about that boy stole my heart. Who knows what he's up to now. He still lived with his uncle last I heard, and I doubt he went to the ten-year reunion last summer; I didn't go either. The twenty-year is the one where I'll show up and turn their heads. They'll all be like, "Oh! Look at Hannah; she's so captivating. She sure made it big time." After a couple of drinks, I'll hop in my limo and head back to the airport.

Initially, I was supposed to leave yesterday, but there was some serious business I had to attend to next door. It only set my plans back a day, so it's no big deal. That kid needed a break, so I did what I had to do.

"You gonna miss me, momma?"

"Yep, I'm going to miss you."

"So what do you think about that boy's daddy shooting himself next door today? I saw the cops pick up the little kid and haul him off somewhere or another."

"I think it's not our business."

"Yep, your probably right, momma. When the ladies at the grocery earlier weren't discussing the weather, they talked about our neighbors and how that boy was better off his daddy killed himself. Evidently, he spent a lot of time beating the tar out of that poor kid."

"I said it didn't concern us. The shows back on."

"Yes, ma'am." If that witch had a conscience, she'd probably sell it for Pink Floyd tickets and try to sleep with the band. I spend my free time spying on the neighbors. That beastly man did a number on that poor little child most nights. The kid got smart, though, because he started leaving before his daddy wakes and doesn't come back until his old man passes out at night. It's like clockwork every day, and it's been that way for a couple of months now. Most nights before he falls asleep, he'll take that pistol out of his dresser and stare at it. Sometimes he even falls asleep with it in his chair. There's no doubt in my mind he plans to shoot his boy when he comes home. Well, that's not going to happen now.

"Momma, I'll be sure and wake you up in the morning before I head out on my adventure. It's nice we got an extra evening together, isn't it?"

"I have to go to the bathroom while a commercial is on."

"Okay, momma. I'll keep your seat warm for you." She can stay in bed all day for all I care. I never want to see her again after we walk out of this room tonight. It was the right thing to do. Maybe it was the only solution; I don't know. The monster fell asleep in his chair today with his gun. In my head, I said, "Hannah, girl, it's now or never. The job has to get done before you leave; otherwise, it'll be the little boy in the morgue." That man never locked his back door. He even left it wide open some days, so it was easy to walk right in. There he sat in his La-Z-Boy with that gun. If movies ever taught me anything, it's that you have to wear gloves if you want to get away with something. We always keep those big yellow rubber ones by the sink, so I put those on before marching over to the house. It happened fast. I walked in, picked up the gun, shot him in the side of the head, and put it back where I found it. Then I came back home and called nine one one because it made me look less suspicious.

"Oh good, you made it back for the program just in time, momma. Have some popcorn." We finished watching tv that night together. The following day I said goodbye to my mother by flipping her the bird while she slept and loaded the car. Just as I began to pull out of the driveway, I saw that young man from next door running as fast as he could down the road toward his house. He grabbed his bicycle, stood there, stared for a few seconds, and rode away. All I could think was, "Look at us, kid. We're both free now."

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