Karen hadn’t asked to be named Karen. She hadn’t asked to be dressed in modest dresses, always with tights and shoes. She certainly hadn’t asked for her parents to use the sort of psychological conditioning that led to so many people saying, “Butt out, Karen!”
Once Mom and Dad passed away, Karen decided she’d finally do something about all the negative comments. She colored her hair, bought a pair of honest-to-goodness jeans, and changed her name to Kathy.
Upon leaving the Social Security Administration, she spied a couple arguing heatedly about what their married last name ought to be. Kathy couldn’t stand to see and hear such animosity between two people in love, and walked toward them. Before she could even open her mouth, however, the woman turned to her and said, “Butt out, Karen!”
©2019 Chelsea Owens
Aesthetically adorablely beautifully brilliantly characteristically curiously dirtily damningly energetically eagerly flauntingly flowery genuinely genially hopefully hauntingly ignominiously ickily jauntily junkily kleptomanically knowledgeably laughingly lovingly Lula
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Makes one wonder what their offspring will be like.
Gone. It was all gone: the house, the car, the television, even her KitchenAid mixer. He was gone, too -of course. He’d taken everything. The only things he’d left behind were her sweet, innocent halves-of-him. She looked over at them fondly; sleeping so obliviously, so trustingly.
She ran a tired hand through her tangled, fried hair. It was really suffering from the cheap “shampoo” she had been using: watered-down hotel-labeled body wash. She’d just used up the last of the last of what could still be called suds, and had tossed it across the hole-ridden floor in a fit of depression. It sat spinning slowly, emptily.
It stopped; it pointed. The dim night light caught a glint just beyond it: a reflected surface mirroring shadows from a crack in the crumbled bathroom wall. Desperately curious, she crawled toward it. She pawed at the wall, dislodging bits of drywall, paint, wallpaper, and linoleum. They dusted onto and around the brushed metal cover of her possible treasure, or a possible hidden stash of contraband items.
But, no! it was treasure. It was an old steel cash box, stuffed to the brim with various bills. She hugged it, covering her old t-shirt and shorts in wall detritus; crying.
Doris stood there, hand on hip, trying to figure out what to say. She’d already used up most of her standby phrases; things like, “Don’t forget, employees must wash their hands,” and “A smile will go a long way.” What worked for all the other ladies had not worked for this newest employee.
“Wash your hands” had led to the new hire carefully removing one hand, rinsing it, reattaching it somewhat sloppily, then attempting to repeat the process with the other one. Encouraging her to smile had sent the entire first grade screaming and running away from the queue.
Today, Doris had come to school ready for whatever came to mind. She’d thought to ask her fellow long-timers what they suggested. Looking hopelessly around the group, however, she realized they would not have any suggestions for the new girl. Rather, she had rubbed off on them already. They stood in a similar posture to hers, listlessly lolling their heads about and groaning. Doris cleared her throat anyway. Alerted, they all began shambling closer.