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The Story of Mona


There was a girl born in Boise, Idaho.

Her mother was a homemaker who had a bachelor's degree in communications. She worked at an elementary school as a guidance counselor. One day she went to the doctor and the doctor gave her a piece of paper. She went to the pharmacy and she took the doctor's advice, taking as many as she felt she needed. She stopped crying before she fell asleep next to the girl's father. She stopped wondering why and how. She just stopped wondering and went to the PTA meetings she was supposed to go to.

The girl's father was an accountant. He wasn't going bald, but his hairline was receding. He made up for it because he drove a very nice, very bright car to work. His secretary was a fat boring woman but his intern was not. His intern was a very bright, very nice thing that drove to work and worked beside him. She was particularly intriguing in the broom closet because of her ability to multitask. Which is a quality that quality interns possess. His infidelities were known to his wife but she would not let her marriage collapse. It was the only thing she had to talk about with her married friends.


Her name, the girl's name, was Mona. Her middle name was Lisa. Her last name was Franklin. Her parents thought they were being clever, when really they were being rather cruel.The logic here was that famous name would most likely amount to a famous daughter.

Mona Lisa Franklin grew up in a suburban neighborhood without any particularly intriguing charm for her to claim, except that she did perform an exquisite variety of extracurricular activities her parents suggested she participate in.

Her parents did their best to conceal the cold nights they spent together after she was asleep in her bed. When Mona was at softball practice, or when she was playing soccer, then they would start to scream. But when she came back, they were simply enthusiastic to see her and it took Mona years before she noticed that they hardly spoke to each other. She had been kept distracted by girl scout cookie inventories.

As a teenager, Mona found herself self-conscious. She found herself misunderstood by everybody but she didn't understand herself either. She also found herself extraordinarily attracted to a pop-punk prince charming, complete with every rebellious accessory that decorates a bad boy. She quit all her extracurriculars. She didn't have time for them after she met her soulmate.So she fell into a frenzy of adolescent debauchery, drinking cough syrup and sprite, smoking weed with 20-something mechanics, and losing her virginity ( she thinks ) in a friend's bathtub on New Years Eve. On New Year's Day, her boyfriend told her he loved her. His confession took place after they took some vicodin that they had found on the floor. He sincerely believed it when he said it, but Mona kept believing it long after she stopped hearing it.

Mona was in love. Mona was in love; she didn't realize what was going on. All she could think about was Him. All she wanted, was to be with Him and get drunk in his basement so they could have sloppy sex while his best friend did lines of baking soda cut with coke in the bathroom.

Her parents started to give her Talks. But Talks never help. She was angry because her parents thought she was too young and she thought her parents were too old. Her parents were persistent in their efforts to improve her life, but Barnes and Nobles only has so many books on teenage rebellion. So they gave up and started to cherish their medicine cabinet instead. So Mona kept singing along to rap on the radio with her friends, while they rolled blunts in the back of her dad's Mercedes Benz.

She had just barely graduated high school. This was only due to the fact that her parents finally realized that their reputation was on the line and decided to take action. After a wilderness camp internment, Mona managed to walk the walk with everyone else. Her parents were more proud of her than if she had graduated a year early and valedictorian. They wanted Mona to break up with her boyfriend. Mona didn't want to break up with her boyfriend. So she moved out. She made the adult decision to go to the community college so she could become regional manager of an Express store somewhere like New York. In two years, she felt she was ready to take on the world.

By the time Brian, who was her soulmate, started having sex with the 15 year old, Mona was 22. Mona found out about Regina when she came home early from her shift at Denny's (which was only temporary till Brian's band got noticed. They were getting pretty big in Boise. ). Regina was looking right at her when she opened the door. Brian was not looking at Mona.

Regina was pretty because she was 15. She painted her nails black and she smoked unfiltered cigarettes. She took pictures from interesting angles. She was a virtuoso of photoshop. Brian saw something in her the night they met. She snuck into his show and he had been taking bumps all night backstage. (He was on fire. His guitar solo was better than Hendrix. Hendrix,he thought, can kiss my ass.) He could see that she was an artist, like him. More importantly, she was all tits and completely willing. And Brian couldn't seem to forget those days kids would follow him around like he was a God. He didn't want those days to end and Regina was a perfect way for him to forget that Mona was starting to get fat and that he was starting to get fat alongside Mona.

Mona knew she was getting a little fat. She didn't think it was enough of a reason for Brian to fuck a 15 year old though. Mona did not want to embarrass herself. She didn't run to the kitchen to grab a hammer, like most women would; instead, her heart decided to suffocate her mind so it wouldn't loose itself. She left the room and Brian didn't follow her. Regina was screaming something and Brian was murmuring something of an apology.

Mona left their apartment and moved back in with her parents, who had stopped looking at each other altogether. They didn't look at Mona much either.

Mona kept getting fat. Her mother constantly reminded Mona that obesity kills just as much as smoking and drunk driving. But neither Mona nor mother knew why she kept gaining weight.

Mona had her suspicions, and so she went on a trip to the drugstore, where the older clerk rang her up, thinking to himself that she was probably a slut. Then he thought about what she would look like alone, in her bedroom, her lonely hands slowly drifting past the elastic band of her white cotton panties...

Mona locked herself in her bathroom and waited. The stick decided that Mona would be a mother. But Mona decided that she couldn't be a mother to that particular child. Though Mona had wanted a child ever since she was a child herself, she could not bear to have a her child suffer the consequences of mind brought on by his or her jackass of a father.

Mona didn't think it was possible to bring life to something that would remind her of the day she died. But Mona thought that Brian had a say in this whole catastrophe. She called Brian and Brian hung up after Mona said the word "pregnant". Regina was laughing at something on the TV. Mona could hear her in the background.

So Mona found an abortion clinic. She had made her appointment the same day of a protest against Women Like Her, but she wasn't paying attention to them anyway. She just wanted to
have the thing inside her go away. It was the only thing holding her back.

Afterwards, Mona couldn't explain it, but she felt relieved. She had thought she wouldn't. But the last part of what ruined her had finally disappeared. She had wanted a child. She loved children. But his child would have filled her with the kind of silent and gradual hate that eats away at the life of another.

It then dawned on Mona what she had done. She had never cared about abortion enough to take a stance. Then again, she had never thought she would have had to have an abortion. She felt relieved, yes, but she also felt that instead of having something given to her, she had something taken away.


Mona left Boise soon after Brian left her. She moved to Reno because she could afford it and because the lights were something she remembered from when she was a kid. Back then, her parents still held each other's hands. She used to look up at the lights and she believed they were fireflies that circus trainers had taught to spell. These days, part of her liked to believe that, even though she knew it wasn't true. It was the part of her that she hadn't let him slaughter. It was the part of her that saved her and the part of her that decided to move to Reno. Reno certainly does look like a wonderland when you live in Boise.

Mona got to Reno and lived in a motel for several months. After weeks of diligent interviews, she got work as a bartender in a more upscale strip club. She finally found a trailer she could afford. After her parents had found out about her decision, they cut her off completely. Mona didn't mind; she had expected as much. Her parents were about as real to her as the stock photo in frames sold at tourist traps.


Mona lived paycheck to paycheck, making friends with rednecks and neighbors. Every couple of weeks, she would go out on the town and take home a black jack dealer or a waiter. Sometimes they would call back. Sometimes they wouldn't. Either way, Mona didn't really mind. She just wanted to feel pretty sometimes, like most girls.

One day, while Mona was working, a man came into the club. He wasn't the usual patron; he wasn't quite so stupid and he wasn't quite so revolting. He had a suit on. It was 2 in the afternoon, and Mona was having a slow day. Hopefully he wanted to get drunk. Getting drunk meant big tips. And if he was in so early, he probably wanted to get drunk, so the drinks would have to keep getting poured. And the more Mona would pour, the better the tip. And tips put her in a good mood.

But his car had broken down, he informed Mona, and he only wanted to use the phone. Mona was disappointed but she wasn't disappointed enough to keep herself from trying to start a conversation. He was wearing a suit, after all. He must be interesting. After she got him the phone, and after he got off the phone, Mona started asking him the kinds of questions you usually ask strangers. The man answered in a way you usually do when you want to keep talking to a stranger.

The man's name was George and he was from out of town. He was going to a conference. What kind of conference? He was going to a conference for realtors. Oh, Mona said, you're a realtor? George didn't realize that Mona was impressed. He had accepted the fact that realtors were not the kind of men that women found impressive. But Mona was very impressed. He had a very nice tie on. His eyes were faded but they were the kind of eyes that Mona liked.


George managed to ask Mona out for coffee while he was in town. Where was he when he was out of town? He was in Phoenix. Mona tried not to look too upset, but her hopes were kicking her chest wide open and she had grown so used to thinking about the things in movie scene, she didn't want think that this was another two-note fuck with three kids and a peroxide wife.

George liked Mona because Mona liked George. He was getting older, and his expectation for a blonde nymph to come along and ravage him on his desk, without any regard for his starbucks cup, had faded into a forgotten daydream, one that he would call upon sometimes on lonely nights under dirty bedsheets in various three-star hotels. Mona was a good choice for George. She was older, but not old. Not older than him. She was pretty and hopeless enough that George's awkward way with interesting people wouldn't annoy her. And she kept looking at him like that.


Mona and George made love after a coffee date and two dinner dates. They went back to George's hotel (Mona was a little embarrassed of her neighborhood) and George held her hand while they walked from the restaurant to his room. It was glorious for George because it had been months since he felt someone else's hand on his body. It was glorious for Mona because a man actually wanted her body. But more importantly, her body could still give a man pleasure without the guilt of the morning after.


Mona and George got hitched in Vegas. Reno would have been too cliche, since they fell in love in Reno. After Mona met George, George got a promotion. He believed this was the final sign he needed to propose to Mona. They moved to Phoenix together and Mona found work as a counselor for recovering alcoholics.

Mona never told George that she had had an abortion after they had their first child. It wasn't something George should know, Mona thought. It's not any of his business anyway. George got a vasectomy several years later. He didn't tell Mona for months, but she wasn't upset because she didn't really want another kid anyway. She loved this one enough. He grew up to be an investment banker and dutifully sent her money every month, so she could afford to be happy while she grew old and forgetful.

Mona died when she was 86. She had a heart attack while she was walking around her neighborhood. George was with her at the time. He was plagued with guilt that he could have
saved her if it had not taken him so long to find his cell phone.




Comments

  1. Easily your best work yet...shades of Lawerence, poignant is the word. The prose and the ideas are easily assimilated which is a beautiful quality of prose to have.
    -mike

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you very much. I thoroughly enjoyed writing about an american life.

    ReplyDelete

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