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MANA SHORT STORY SERIES: "APOLOGIES" By CHERYL ORTH

Editor's Note: To Read MANA's announcement of its Short Story Series click HERE.

BY CHERYL ORTH

Beth pulls into the first parking space she sees. After she puts the car in "Park," she pulls down the visor and starts touching up her makeup. Her lipstick still looks good, not smudged from the Bailey’s and coffee she has been swigging out of her hot pink mini thermos. Her chocolate eyeliner looks like it’s running a bit from this horrid heat. 

  She wants to look her best. She is meeting an old girlfriend after twenty years, and her vainness wants to make sure she looks the same as she did then. Beth can’t help wondering what the hell Shelly wants to see her for anyways. She already wrote Beth a letter and called her to “forgive” her. Beth still cannot believe it. Forgive Beth? She should forgive herself for being a promiscuous person.

   Beth smooths back her blonde ponytail. She is happy with what she sees, so she closes the visor and exits her car and walks toward the entrance of the hotel. Shelly wants to meet her in the bar before her big speech. Beth still can’t believe that Shelly is some sort of motivational speaker. Who does she motivate? Hookers? 
     
     Even though the so-called incident happened twenty years ago, Beth still has a problem with blaming Shelly for all of the terrible things that have happened. Beth has married a wonderful man and has two beautiful children, but it took ten years to get that life started. She spent a good ten years bitter and angry. 
    Beth enters the hotel lobby and she is shaking with anger. She cannot wait to tell this bitch off once and for all. How dare she write and call and forgive! Beth has been waiting to tell Shelly, “Good for you Miss Thing! But I DON’T FORGIVE YOU!” This is the only reason she has agreed to see Shelly, to tell that liar off once and for all.
     Beth sees the bar off to the right side of the lobby and heads that way. Her sandals are clicking on the fancy beige tiles. She is glad she wore these sandals. They are fun, spunky, and cute. Just like herself. 
     Unlike Shelly who is a bore, a liar, and old! Beth bets that she looks like a grandma. Why wouldn’t she? Playing a victim all of her life. Poor Shelly! All that pity plays a mean dance all over your face. 

   Although Beth was bitter, she never wallowed in self-pity. Beth always exercised and used top-of-the-line beauty products. She never ate more than eighteen-hundred calories a day and kept her figure slim. She had a food journal and a calculator just to make sure of her calorie intake. Beth’s mother taught her that these things were vital for a woman’s survival in the world. As it turns out, Beth’s mother was right, if her mother had kept up with her youthfulness, her father never would have slept with Shelly.



Part 2

Anna walks into the hotel bar five minutes late for her shift. She bartends here and was just recently hired. This is only her fourth day. She is so embarrassed that she is late. She can’t lose this job. If she does it will take even longer to get her kids back. Her parole officer was not happy that she was bartending, but she has to work. Tending bar is an honest living, selling her body for crack is not. 
     She runs behind the bar trying not to be noticed by Griffin, the young man she is replacing behind the bar. She just couldn’t bear seeing his look of disappointment. Griffin is an acquaintance of hers from her therapy group. He put in a good word for her to get a job here. 
“You could have called Anna,” Griffin mutters with disgust.
“I got held up by a train. For real, Griffin.” Anna pats Griffin on the back in a motherly way. Griffin actually could be her son.
“Whatever, Anna. There is a woman who just sat down, go see what she wants. I am out of here.” Griffin takes off his vest that is part of the gaudy gold and beige uniform and walks in the back to punch out.
Anna is happy that this is all that transpires from her tardiness and starts to head towards the blonde lady at the end of the bar. She stops in front of the mirror behind the bar to check her makeup and hair. It is so hot outside she is sure that her brown ponytail is nothing but frizz. What she sees isn’t too bad, her eyeshadow looks a little dark, but hopefully no one will notice. Most of the time nobody looks at her here. They are always in a hurry, too engrossed in conversation, or texting to even notice who is bringing their drinks. 
   Anna takes a quick look in the mirror towards the woman to see if she is becoming impatient when suddenly her blood turns ice cold. It is Beth Jacoby, or at least that is who she used to be. Anna bets that she is married. Anna suddenly feels sick to her stomach. How is she supposed to wait on her? Anna starts to shake, her mouth starts to water and she is dying for a hit.
“See ya later, Anna.” Griffin walks by without even looking at her but he notices the woman at the bar still does not have a drink. He turns toward Anna and sighs then asks, “What the hell, Anna?”
“Griffin,” Anna starts to cry, “Griffin, I cannot wait on her. In fact, if she doesn’t leave I might kill her.”
“Oh my God is that…,” Griffin breaks off his question and just stares at Anna in shock. He cannot believe that this is happening. How in the world is he going to take care of this?
“Griffin, please help me out.”
“Can I get a drink please? I see that you two are very busy but can I please get a house chardonnay?” Beth suddenly feels a jolt of anger rise through her body. “Anna Sodermann!” The shriek that escapes her throat causes the other three people in the bar to stop their conversation and stare at the tiny blonde woman at the bar.

Part 3


“Take a deep breath, Anna," Griffin whispers in her ear. "Miss, I can get you a drink. Please do not cause a scene." Griffin starts to walk towards the tiny blonde with caution. He cannot understand how this is even possible. He has heard stories in group all about this evil half-sister, but to come to face-to-face with her and witness this hate between the two is something he never expected.

   Beth sticks her chin out, and her eyes become dark. Beth is only five feet tall, but her fury makes her seem like a towering beast ready to breathe out fire and burn the whole world. "I don't want anything from an establishment that has crack whores working for them," Beth spits this out like poison. "I am supposed to meet someone, Shelly Cooper or whatever she calls herself. I'm supposed to meet the broad speaking here tonight."

    "Ms. Theil, yes. She is over across the hall in the conference room. Would you like me to escort you there? It is no problem.” Griffin is feeling rather optimistic. The problem might not be that bad after all. The other three patrons are showing little interest. Well, less than earlier, the crack whore comment is still keeping them engaged somewhat.

     "When did you get out of jail?" Beth cannot help but smirk. 

     “Like you care.” Anna is shaking all over. Why does this little witch have so much power over her? Anna knows why. It is because ever since Beth found out that Anna was, indeed, her father’s illegitimate daughter she has done everything in her power to make Anna’s life a living hell. 

     "I don't really. Beth gets up off of her stool and asks Griffin, “Which way to the conference room?”

     Beth is fuming on the inside. All she can see is red. She thinks of the eighth grade when the news got out about her real dad. She remembers how everyone said her mother was a homewrecker and a tramp.  No one cared that her mom actually was in love with Beth’s father at the time. Nobody blamed him for dating two girls at the same time. Beth’s mother got pregnant first, so that is whom he married. Anna’s mom didn’t end it soon enough and got pregnant herself. All through school Beth terrorized Anna. The only escape was through drugs and alcohol. All of Anna’s problems she blames on Beth. She has never hated anyone as much as she hates her. 

     Griffin can see that Anna is about to come unglued. Quickly, he comes from behind the bar and motions Beth to the left. "Right this way, Miss, I will gladly take you to Ms. Theil."

     Beth follows Griffin out of the bar, but pops back in quickly to flip Anna off. This is all that Anna can take. She balls up her fist and marches right behind Griffin and Beth.

     Beth starts to laugh when she notices Anna behind them. “Look at her. She looks crazy. If she touches me, I will call the cops; I mean it!”

    Before Griffin can react, Anna is on top of Beth pulling her blonde ponytail with one hand and punching her in the mouth with the other.

                                                        To be continued


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