Sweeter Than Honey 

I pushed my cart through the grocery store, idly glancing at the rows of cereal. My heels clicked on the linoleum as I sauntered down the aisle. Stopping in front of the cereal bars, I paused, one manicured finger twirling my long blond hair as I absently pondered fiber. My ears perked at the sound of women talking in the next aisle.

The voices didn’t sound familiar. That was unusual. I knew every person in this hick town. I’d been born here, gone to school here but God help me if I was going to settle here. I was made for something more, something bigger. And the second I saved the money I needed, I was packing my car and heading to New York.

Leaning slightly to the side, I peeked behind the colorful boxes catching a glimpse of the women.

Just my luck. I rolled my eyes. The hippie and the cook, in the flesh. The both of them were so smug, so knowing. Carrie with her fancy French cooking degree. And that red head! She smelled like California – sunshine and oranges. The two of them walked around town like they owned the place.

I nudged a box of oatmeal out of the way to get a better look.

Of course they’d brought the baby! It was the talk of the town. You’d think the two of them had saved an orphanage full of kids the way people acted. It wasn’t like they’d done anything special. I had helped my own mama birth two babies. Of course, people don’t care much when those babies are born in two room shacks. But have it at a fancy ranch – sorry, farm stay. I rolled my eyes again. Have a baby there and people act like you are the heroes of the county.

I couldn’t quite make out their words. That red head was laughing over something Carrie said. What was her name again? Something awful. Something old-fashioned. Eleanor. With a name like that, she didn’t deserve to live in California.

Bored, I continued walking down the aisle, my heels keeping time with the country music playing over the radio. I reached the end and started to turn  right. I paused. A small smile played over my lips. I didn’t dare. Did I?

Turning left I sashayed down the next aisle, swinging my hips. I thrust my boobs out front, loving their perkiness against the sweater everyone thought was cashmere.

“Why hello, Carrie!” I stretched my lips in a full smile. I wondered if her black hair was from a bottle.

“Hi, Honey,” she looked at me with a friendly grin. Idiot. “Have you met Ellie?”

“No, I haven’t. I’m Honey.” I extended a slim hand, enclosing Ellie’s slightly freckled one. I stood for a minute, chatting with the women, admiring the baby. “Well, I’ve got to get going. I need to get home to my mom.”

Carrie gave me a sympathetic look. “How’s she doing?”

“The same,” I swallowed back the lump in my throat. “The doctors say it’s a matter of weeks.” I didn’t like to think of Mama dying. I didn’t like to think about the piles of medical bills that had eaten my Escape Fund.

“If you need anything,” Carrie started.

“Don’t worry. We’re good.” I interrupted. “I’ll see you around.”

As I walked away, I heard Carrie whisper, “Poor thing. She and Todd used to date back in high school. He said she’s been taking care of her mom for seven years now. Cancer.”

I forced a brittle smile. That little black-haired bitch stole Todd. I had planned to move with him to Vegas. Then Mama got sick. Next thing I knew, he’d up and married some little Betty Crocker he’d met in a casino. I used to imagine she was a stripper.

I glanced over my shoulder.

Not with that body.

I kept walking, my heels marking my way to the register. I laughed. I wondered what ol’ Betty would think if she knew her husband still had a taste for Honey.