How Veronica Earley chose to live her life was nobody’s business—Lydia knew that. Her new boss spent a good deal of time making online purchases that she couldn’t afford. Lydia kept the books, and what bothered her was how duped the boss’s husband Donny was, that gullible semi-retired softy of a man trusted his dynamo mortgage broker wife beyond reason. The Earley’s were headed for certain ruin if Veronica didn’t get a grip on reality and modify her runaway compulsions. They’d borrowed against their house so often in the past that they’d chewed up most of their equity. The market had gone straight in the toilet so they couldn’t sell even if they had a mind to. Lydia performed magic acts on a regular basis juggling Veronica’s finances. The machinations employed to avoid late charges and certain calamity made the poor girl a nervous wreck. Only three months into the job and Lydia worried that she might be developing an ulcer. Rolaids, Maalox, Zantac, none of these over-the-counter remedies were able to quell her burning gut. Her late father suffered with an ulcer for most of his life, she must have inherited the susceptibility.
You might wonder why Lydia didn’t quit working for Earley Creative Asset Solutions if the job caused her such marked distress. For one thing, she had a six-year old special needs child, so Lydia preferred flexible hours. And, since she was a notary public Veronica saw to it that Lydia was present for the signing of loan docs, and that brought in extra money. Jobs were hard to find or keep with the economy in the state of a rapid downward spiral. They had to eat! Little Oliver was a huge responsibility and Lydia intended to do right by him. It wasn’t her son’s fault that his sperm donor had turned out to be a doper and a deserter. It wasn’t her son’s fault that for all intents and purposes his mother was an orphan and totally on her own. Little Oliver’s circumstances plagued Lydia. What could she do but persevere?
The office Lydia toiled away in was attached to the Earley’s rambling ranch house. The close proximity meant that she was privy to family squabbles, household mishaps, and the day-today tumult that was their norm. At home in her apartment, while seeing to Oliver’s supper, while helping him with his homework, or bathing him, Lydia would marvel at the uncluttered and sane atmosphere. She was a Virgo. Order brought peace of mind at the end of a hectic day.
Veronica would hide her purchases from Donny. Lamps and duvet covers, vases and purses, bracelets and self-help books, tacky silk flower arrangements and designer perfumes, all this and more could be found shoved to the back of closets, under beds, and piled behind a row of tall file cabinets out in the garage. One day a package arrived from Peru. Lydia watched Veronica unwrap the box frantically, the way her bony fingers trembled with anticipation. As she handed Lydia the invoice for a four-hundred-dollar-plus Alpaca sweater, she cried, “Isn’t it divine?”
“You ought to send it back,” Lydia warned. “The Rodriquez loan fell through, you must stop spending money you don’t have!”
Veronica frowned and began to shake her head like some kind of madwoman. “But I’m putting that big commercial deal together, you’ll see! We’ll be singing…we’re in the money, we’re in the money.”
A bully at school attacked Little Oliver one day. The bratty monster scratched his innocent angelic face and pulled down his pants in front of the other children. Lydia sat in front of the principal’s big oak desk and expressed her dismay and frustration with teachers that could stand idly by and let something so horrible happen under their watch. “I’m sorry,” the young principal told Lydia. “I agree with everything you’re saying. Heads will roll. I won’t stand for my students being brutalized.”
Lydia considered the principal then, she leaned forward in her chair and really saw him for the first time. Mr. Covington, what a nice name for a nice man. Why, he actually cared. Lydia saw sincere concern, her pretty face crumpled, and soon she was crying hysterically, making a complete fool of herself. “It’s just so hard,” she whined. Mr. Covington brought over a box Kleenex, patted her shoulder softly and offered support while she struggled to regain her composure.
Three months into her engagement to Dustin Covington Lydia walked into the office of Earley Creative Asset Solutions and gave notice.
Veronica’s eyes widened and she pointed at the door. “Leave now then!”
Donny came in from the garage wearing one of his ridiculous golf outfits and asked, “What the heck’s going on in here?”
“She’s leaving me!” Veronica screamed.
Donny faced Lydia as she told him, “I put in a month’s notice but Veronica wants me to go now, which is fine by me.” Lydia plucked two framed photos of Little Oliver off her desk and shoved them in her bag. She opened a drawer and grabbed a bag of trial mix. It seemed odd that she didn’t have anything else to take.
“Hold on,” Donny said. “Let’s cool down.”
“Leaving today’s fine by me,” Lydia snapped. She couldn’t count how many times she’d seen the words Continue Shopping flash across Veronica’s computer screen, and the image compelled her to say to Donny, “You really need to know, there’s not enough money to cover the American Express bill this month. I have no idea how you guys are going to make ends meet, unless you take funds from your retirement account. To be truthful, I’m glad that I won’t have to worry about the sorry state of your finances anymore.”
“Veronica?” Donny said lamely, before sitting down. The deluded husband had no clue. No clue at all.
Lydia rushed past the arguing couple, opened the door, and made a beeline for her car. Veronica followed, her wagging mouth demanding that Lydia come back and listen to reason, but Lydia did not respond. Driving away, she felt the tight knots in her belly begin to unravel at last, and a grin spread across her face as put the car in neutral and coasted down the long hill leading home.
Marathon Shopper Art courtesy of PopArtDiva.com, copyright 2009. All Rights Reserved.
All Rights Reserved. © 2009 by Elizabeth Bradley.