Word Count 450
By Anne Nassar
Tessa never talked about her past. Whenever he asked her questions, she would shake her head and look at him reproachfully.
One day, after they’d been married for two years, she told him that she needed to go “home”. He asked her what she meant and she said that her mother had had a stroke, and so she would need to go to Delanson. He offered to drive her. She said no. He asked her why she was trying to prevent him from being a good husband. And she relented.
Delanson was mostly trailers and farms. There was a gas station and a junk shop – and that was it for stores.
She instructed him to turn down a gravel road. They drove past a couple of shacks, and the gravel gave way to dirt. Finally they arrived at a clearing. To the left was an ancient house that had partially caved in. To the right was a newer house. Behind the new house was a field full of rusting cars – including some Model A’s, he noticed.
A couple of German Shepherds ran at the car, barking. He parked, but they didn’t dare get out.
After a few minutes had passed, a man came out of the newer house and strode towards them. He had slanted, bright blue eyes and reddish hair, like Tessa. But he looked to be much older than she was. He also looked to be hostile.
He grabbed one of the dogs by the collar and dragged it to a fenced-in yard and locked it up. The other dog slunk away and hid under a car.
Tessa unrolled her window and called out, Hey.
He glared at her for a few long moments without saying anything. But then he nodded towards the house and said, door’s open. He turned to walk away.
Wait, Timmy, Tessa said.
He turned back around and raised his eyebrows at her, like she’d crossed a line.
Does Mom…can she talk?
Is she brain damaged?
Whadya think a stroke is, Tessa?
How bad is it?
I hope she dun’t live. Now, I got shit to do.
He took off. He disappeared into the ruin of the old house.
You can be sure he’s stealing all Mom’s antiques out of there. Can’t even wait ‘til she’s dead.
He saw that there were tears running down her cheeks. He reached out a hand to stroke her hair, and she batted his hand away.
Are you happy now? she said bitterly, now you know where I come from. I come from dirt and cow shit and thieves.
He understood for the first time that she’d had to transform herself into the woman he knew.