The toe on Candy’s left food was bleeding profusely. Candy stared at it and fished in her purse for the keys to the station wagon.
Now you’re in the car. You’re normal. The car is still here. Everything looks the same.
Her mind went blank, and in the few lost moments, she was vaguely aware the car was moving.
One step at a time, just do one thing at a time, and it will be all right. Don’t think about the house.
She stared down the main street of Wylie and imagined that her car was not moving at all. Then the main street was gone. She stared at a stop sign. It scared her; she needed movement.
You can’t lose control now. Nothing is changed.
She glanced down at her lap and felt a sudden chill in her legs. Her blue jeans were soaked with water. The antiseptic smell of fabric softener flooded her nostrils, and for a moment she thought she would be sick.
Why am I wet? That smell. Can’t panic. Normal. Left, right. Why won’t the car go faster?
Candy’s toe began to throb.
Oh God, it hurts. Cut my toe on the storm door, that’s what happened. How can I be wet? Oh God, it hurts. No one will know. You couldn’t have done it. No one will know.
The white station wagon wound through the Collin County backcountry. After a while it pulled back onto FM Road 1378 and continued north past an old church and a red schoolhouse, across a narrow stone bridge, and up a hill. At the crest it turned right onto a pitted gravel road that disappeared into a forest of oaks and hackberries.
At last the landscape was familiar again. Down a slight incline, left onto the gravel, and up the steeply inclined driveway. Only now could the house be seen, sitting on a little knoll, shrouded by two or three red oaks. It was like a contemporary cathedral in wood and glass, with the stylishly unfinished look of a Colorado ski lodge. Around the expansive yard was a corral of white horse fence. The station wagon nosed into the double garage and stopped.
Nothing is changed. Out of these clothes. Calm. Dry and clean. Normal.
She ran upstairs, stripping off her blouse and blue jeans as she entered the bedroom. She wiped the blood from her third toe and wrapped a Band-Aid tightly around it, flinching as she felt how deep the cut was.
I did it on the storm door. We never have fixed the storm door.
She took her shirt into the kitchen and placed it in the sink. She poured the detergent and turned on the water.
Oh, no, the smell again.
She stated to retch but quickly regained her composure.
She left the blouse soaking the sink and went upstairs to find a pair of blue jeans the same shade as the ones she had just taken off. She took a quick shower and washed her hair. As she did, she noticed an open cut at the hairline on the right side of her forehead. She dried her hair with a towel and then went to get another Band-Aid. But the springy hair around the wound kept the bandage from sticking. Finally she gave up, wrung out her blouse, put on the new blue jeans, threw the old ones in the washer, and waited while the dryer dried her blouse.
Thank goodness it was a burgundy colored shirt.
The last thing she did was replace her rubber sandals with a pair of blue tennis shoes. She laced them up tightly to keep pressure on the toe bandage. She was ready to pick up her children and Betty Gore’s daughter Alisa at church.
The children’s puppet show in the sanctuary was coming to a close when Candy pulled into the parking lot. She caught up with a friend who was going in to join the other women for lunch. “Oh Barbara,” Candy said breathlessly. “I went down to Betty’s and we just got to talking, and then I looked at my watch and thought I had time to go to Target and get Father’s Day cards and I drove all the way to Plano. But then when I got there I realized my watch had stopped and I was late, so I didn’t even go in. We’re taking Alisa with us tonight to see The Empire Strikes Back. That reminds me, I’d better go check on the kids.” As Candy headed for a classroom, it crossed her mind that she might be limping. She made a special effort to walk straight. In an empty room she found a mirror and dabbed at the cut near her hairline. Even after the blood has been stanched, she could feel it running down her forehead, exposing her.
No one must know. Day like any other.
When Candy left, one of the women noticed something odd. Candy Montgomery, who always wore rubber sandals in the summer, was wearing a paid of blue tennis shoes.
The afternoon passed in a fog. Candy bundled the three children into the station wagon. They were an off comfort; they kept her occupied, kept the dragons at bay. At home, after she told Alisa to get ready for her swimming lesson, Candy phoned her husband at work.
“Pat, we just got home from Bible school and wanted to be sure you get enough money at the bank, because Alisa is going to the movie with us. The kids nagged about it after you left this morning, and so I promised them I’d ask Betty if Alisa could stay another night. But then I had to go to Betty’s to pick up Alisa’s swimsuit and we got to talking and I lost track of time, and then when I went to Target I noticed my watch had stopped and I missed the whole Bible school program.”
“Uh-huh,” said Pat. He had just returned from a Texas Instruments office picnic and was anxious to make some computer runs.
“Betty said Alisa could spend the night.”
“Listen, honey, that’s fine