A Scream Pt:1 by: M. R. Vega
The roads were busy, the heat lingered atop the pavement and the fair was starting with a flurry of the city’s energy. Its enthralling, reverberating, and tenacious emotion lay just shy beneath the skin of Pueblo. The incessant chatter and hollers could be heard echoing off the slabs of pavement around the fairgrounds. It was a rejoicing time for the youth, an inpatient length of noise and mess for the elders while it coaxed the restless and weary keeping their minds deterred from work or off of the monotonous schemes of clock in-clock out. After all, it was a mimic of the same, reminding everyone of last year, the year before, and before…
Angela Sykes was on her weekly mission for her boys while she slowly yearned for a ticket to anywhere else. She scrounged up the change of the kiddos left in the jeans, thrown on the counter, and shook the couches and loveseat to their little divets she made them, allowing all the loose change that was inevitably going to be there to fall to the floor with a clang and chime. Along with the school’s fair tickets given every year, she had acquired enough to pay for two ride bands and maybe a basket of fries for them to share. It’d likely go to something like candy or a cheap lemonade but that was up to the boys. They were finally old enough that she could drop them off at the gate and come hours later to pick ’em up and shuttle ‘em back to the shanty house she and her old folks still managed to own.
Aside from the one drawer of her own with old clothes and perhaps a dish set or two, that run-down house was the only thing her parents and her owned, the lease on the car was late on payments, likely to get seized before the fair was packed up and she knew it was either the car or food enough to feed the family. It was bad enough that the two boys were nearing adulthood and lacked control when they ate. Like locusts, they consumed most of what was bought for the week before Wednesday had come around. Luckily they started part-time jobs in a week, and to say she was proud was an understatement, knowing how hard it was to even get an interview in this town, she could clap and holler a ‘yippee’ if she knew it wouldn’t make them blush and deny her the gratitude a mom deserves.
After cleaning up the muck and dust from finding all the loose change, taking it to the nearest Coinstar machine, and cashing it out, she had an hour to herself before having to pick the boys up from Pitts Middle School. She rinsed off her dust-covered face, embarrassed realizing that she walked into the Soopers store like that, and dabbed at her face with a dry rag. Being 29, she was starting to see the years hang on the corners of her eyes and damned her Abuela for the lazy eye she managed to get as it apparently skipped her mom and decided she was beautiful enough still, makeup could wait for a rainy day. She’d rather use up the last of her mascara, foundation, and highlight for work. Maybe she’d be able to stretch it out the next week and treat herself to the E.L.F line they had at Walmart. She rolled her eyes, scoffing at the idea and knowing, likely her boys would need something more important, at least for them. 45 minutes left and she ran to the closet of the room her parents and she shared, reaching up to a nook that saved an old and drying joint, now all she needed was a lighter and prayed her dada still had one in the silverware drawer in the kitchen.
Luckily, the red Bic was still there, still moderately full and she went out to the patio to sit and bask in the sun for the next ten minutes, knowing she’d need to pull up to the school earlier than later if she didn’t want mouth and drama from her two boys.
She closed her eyes, pursed her lips to the dry paper, flicked at the lighter, and took a long drag. It eased her senses, or clouded them, she had met a point in life now where either or, was better than nothing and shrugged it off while she exhaled slowly and stared out past the yard and waved at an old man walking his aging dog. The man ignored the gentle wave and hurried his steps, nearly choking the dog trying to get out of eyeshot. She snickered and smiled, knowing how the people were these days, she shrugged it away while taking a second and last drag until maybe tonight after the boys were in bed. She hid the remainder of the joint on the corner of the porch banister, put an old rock atop it afterward ran inside to grab her shoes.
She grabbed the money from her small Coinstar stop and the fair tickets for her kids, got the keys and her purse, locked up the house then jumped in the car. The school was minutes away so she took her backing up seriously, not wanting to muck up the car. She had already messed up the backend bumper once or twice before and didn’t want an extra, exorbitant fee hitting her later. While backing up though Angela, knowing the radio wasn’t on yet heard a muffled scream. It was almost blood-curdling, however, she figured it came from a neighbour watching a film with the windows open. Still backing up and turning the wheel to steer her towards the school she heard it again. The fair was too far away for that to be it, she peered about the neighborhood, didn’t see anything amiss, and shrugged it away…