The gentle rush of sun-warmed air blowing her hair in flowing waves behind her and the sound of road-gripping, attention-getting power emanating from her new ‘Vette had an almost intoxicating effect on Barb. Her yellow flowered sunsuit with the frilly white ruffle went perfectly with the car, the day and even her feelings. This day was perfect. This is the good life, she thought. It doesn’t get any better than this.
But, of course, she knew it always got better. Always. Every day was an exciting adventure for her and it would never be any different. She just had that kind of life. You might say she was charmed. Or blessed. Or maybe just exceptional. Whatever it was, she knew she could count on life being a wonderful experience for her.
“Barb, we really need to talk.”
Barb looked over at the strong, handsome hunk in the seat beside her. Kenny had been her boyfriend since...she couldn’t even remember how long they had been together! But lately he had started being a bit of a drag. Like now, she knew he would want to talk about things she had no interest at all. Sometimes I wonder why I even keep him around at all, she thought. Oh, well. I can tolerate humoring him for a while.
“Alright,” she said. “Let’s have a barbecue while we talk.”
She looked down at her black slacks and sexy form fitting tank top. Perfect. Even the orange barbecue apron looked good on her. She flipped a sizzling burger and watched it land exactly where she had intended.
“Your burger is almost ready.” She put a slice of cheese on top of the two patties of beef. “What did you want to talk about!”
“Did that seem normal to you?” Kenny asked.
“Normal?” Barb smiled briefly. It was a nervous smile that told Kenny he was about to open a sensitive, frightening subject that Barb really didn’t want to discuss. “Nothing is ‘normal’ in our lives.” Her voice was defensive. “We are...unique. It’s all part of living the good life.”
Kenny’s smile vanished and Barb suddenly wanted the conversation ended. Maybe a change of scenery would help, she thought.
“Kenny, let’s dance.”
The ballroom was lovely. Barb and Kenny were the only couple on the floor, which made everything even more romantic. Her evening gown, black with just a touch of silver sparkle, was one of her favorites. She gently placed her head on Kenny’s shoulder.
“Now, isn’t this better?” She asked.
Kenny’s strong body tensed so noticeably that Barb couldn’t help looking into his eyes to see what was wrong. The undeniable sadness she saw shocked her. Why would he be sad?
“What’s wrong?” She asked.
“You really don’t realize, do you?” Kenny held her at arms length. “In the last five minutes we have gone from speeding down a highway to having a barbeque to dancing at a luxury ballroom. Barb, your ‘Good Life’ is being completely controlled by someone else. Almost as if we are dolls, or puppets.”
Barb shook her head. “That’s silly! Whatever would give you such an idea?”
“You are living a fantasy.”
“Well, if I am I don’t want to lose it!”
“Don’t you think it’s time to face some realities?”
“Maybe if we go camping! Or scuba diving!”
She looked down at her outfit, expecting to see either a hiking suit or scuba gear. All she saw was her beautiful evening gown. I am NOT someone’s pawn... she thought. I have a life. I am a person. I just have a problem with memories... but who doesn’t have those? She looked at her outfit. It was still that horrible evening gown.
“Kenny?” Her voice was trembling. “What's happened to me?”
Kenny put his hand gently on her shoulder. “It’s going to be alright, Barb. I will always be here for you. I promise.”
A tear made it’s way down her perfectly beautiful cheek. “I’m afraid, Kenny.”
“It’s going to be alright, Mom. I love you and I promise you will always have a good life here with us.”
The slump-shouldered, weathered, aging woman looked at the dolls she held in her hands. She wiped the tears from her eyes and tried to focus on what her son was saying. It’s going to be alright, she thought. She thanked God for the occasional times when her memory was clear.
“I love you, too, Son.”
Quietly, she placed the dolls in the box beside her rocking chair.
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