By Jie En Zheng
Rita walked quickly into the only department store on the outskirts of the city. The LED lighting in the supermarket was on, reflecting on the cashier’s faces, making them paler than usual. It was crowded, it seemed that everyone was here to share free air-conditioning. Today is the highest temperature ever recorded in the late summer. She wore a long sweater and a red cap; she hasn’t changed for several days. She held her arms and wanted to move away from the air conditioner. There’s Daisy, wearing a white cami, leaning against the alcohol section. It wasn’t hard to recognize her.
“Rita!” Daisy shouted. Rita walked slowly. “Shh, did you check the place?” Rita asks.
“What place?” Daisy put down the brandy in her hand and strolled into the supermarket.
Rita followed closely and said, “To bury.”
They walked into the household essentials area. The items on the shelves were a mess; no one had sorted them out for a long time. Rita picked up a light bulb. There were flickering lights on her front porch, maybe she needed to repair them, she thought.
“Relax. It is all handled.”
“Thank God. I always knew you would be on my side, even if the circumstance is…bad,” Rita whispered.
“Oh, you always like to exaggerate things. It’s not that serious though.” Daisy said, and she patted Rita’s shoulder.
“Because you despise him, right?”
“Rita, he’s an alcoholic, he sleeps around, look at what he has done to you all these years? Damn right!”
“He…He’s full of ego. But I didn’t mean it. That’s why I’m terrified.” Rita followed Daisy into the hand tools area, and she was taken aback.
“I am glad you finally took some action. Nowadays people call it women’s empowerment.”
“At least now I don’t have to worry if he’s home or not. But I must hide, you still own that cabin?”
“Of course, why not hide in my house for a few days? Let him calm down, you know, then he’ll forget everything.”
“Forget? He’s gone!” Rita said, and heavily put down the light bulb she had been holding. There was an echo from the shelf. She shivered at the sound she had made.
Daisy tried to keep a straight face, and continued to move forward. She raised an eyebrow, and asked, “To where?”
“You were drunk when I called, right? Do I have to repeat what happened again?” Rita asked, her eyes wide open.
“No, I’m not… um, not sure.”
“You are sure. Alright, when I got back, I smelled some liquor. He scowled and pointed at me, Then said something like I was home late. He did it again, used… garden shears this time.”
Rita held her arms tightly while she talked.
“Later, I stood by the door. I thought if he came for me again, I’d run. But I was angry, why should I run? I wanted to vent, I wanted to break. Of course, I couldn’t break them. And then I heard his footsteps, I couldn’t keep my head straight, so I just stuck the shears into the dirt.”
“That’s the stuff you told me to bury, right? I’ve smashed and hidden Bob’s crap too many times. This is the end he gets for calling me a bitch…”
Rita interrupted and pulled Daisy to a less crowded place, and said in a low voice, “I haven’t finished yet. When he came out, I had an impulse to…to trip him, so I quickly stretched out my foot… but his f… face…”
Rita’s stuttering confused and annoyed Daisy.
“Go on,” Daisy said while she picked up several gardening tools: a shovel, flowerpots, and hedge shears. She wanted to have a garden like Rita’s.
“He fell head-on, facing those.” Rita looked at the shears and choked.
“No, no, no… you’re kidding, I thought you wanted to bury his stuff, just like I did with Bob’s whiskey and the boat?” Daisy asked in disbelief. She took a breath and turned away from gardening tools.
“I didn’t mean to, but they won’t believe me. What do you think people will say about my motivation? They all know how he treats me. Will you still help? Daisy?”
Rita lowered her head. When she raised her head, Daisy was already far away, leaving the incandescent light shining on the big shears in the gardening area. A family came, and a boy pointed at them to his parents. He shouted that this is his new toy. Rita saw and stared at his parents.
“He shouldn’t have those. It’s too dangerous,” She pulled her hat down and wandered away.
Bio: Jieen grew up in Taiwan but moved to Mid-Coast Maine four years ago. She holds an associate’s degree at the University of Maine at Augusta and plans to earn a bachelor’s degree in English at the University of Southern Maine. She also plans on study an MFA. She is passionate about writing and art. Jieen is the 2022 Plunkett Poetry Festival first prize winner. Her poetry can also be found HERE.