zack reynolds

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Unhappy Day For Anne

It was an unhappy day for Anne. This day, of all days, when she should have been happy and without a care in the world, was the day that just had to go wrong in every possible way, for some inexplicable reason of which Anne could not possibly fathom a motive.

Her morning had started with her alarm clock going off ten minutes early. Now, see, on a normal day, this would not have fazed her, but on this particular day, she decided to get out of bed in a hurry and forgot that she had left her rollerskates by the bed, so that she wouldn’t forget to bring them (but somehow, on the day that she was supposed to remember them, she had totally forgotten, and somehow, she had never put them back in the closet, even though several weeks had gone by). This left her in close quarters with her make-up mirror. After extracting her face from the smashed glass, she made for the bathroom to assess damages and make repairs.

The bathroom would of course be in use on this particular day, but no matter. Anne had patience. What she didn’t have was the ability to foresee that when the bathroom would be vacated, the bathroom door would open out into the hall. Ten minutes later, when her nose stopped bleeding, she hurried back to her room to get her clothes.

It was about this time, as she was hurrying through her room, that she stepped on the glass sliver. After the painful extraction of the sliver, she grabbed her clothes from the dresser and put them on the bed. She stepped back so she could start changing when she realized, an instant too late, that by some strange oversight, she had forgotten to put the skates away. This time, instead of the mirror, it was the floor. But, more unfortunate still, she still had not cleaned up the glass from the previous wreckage.

By the time her mom had finished taking out the last painful sliver, Anne was about ready to give up. She was definitely late now, so she decided to call so she could inform him of the obvious fact.

Now, it would be this day, of course, of all days, that Anne would dial the wrong number. And, strangely enough, it turned out to be the mental institution, but Anne didn’t realize it until after she had insisted several times that she was “going to be late.” They somehow got her to tell them her name and address, but Anne hung up impatiently, and dialed again, but strangely enough, somehow, in her hurry, she dialed the same number again. More wary this time, though, she found out who it was, and said that she “didn’t want to talk to them.”

On another try, using careful concentration and all the wits at her beck and call, she managed to get the right number. After making it abundantly clear that she was going to be late, she was informed that she wasn’t “going” to be late. She was late.

After hanging up, Anne cautiously hurried back to her room, and, because she didn’t have time to clean up any of the mess, decided to move to her little sister Julie’s room to finish getting ready. Now, the only thing with Julie’s room, in case you ever pop in there, is that the ceiling is always in low spirits. The reason is because Julie’s room was on the second floor—well, more of an attic, but since it actually had a floor, they took the liberty of calling it a second floor. Anyhow, the ceiling is a wee bit short around the edges, but that was fine on a typical day, because Julie wasn’t the largest gal in town. In fact, she was about ten years old, and about as tall as would be expected from the average ten-year-old girl who has an upstairs bedroom with a low ceiling.

Well, as I was saying, Anne was in a hurry, and started changing in Julie’s room. She put her things on the dresser by the wall, as Julie was still in bed (not terribly surprising, as it was still seven o’clock in the morning).

But as there was a mirror located at a convenient height, Anne took a look at her face, and realized that today, of all days, she especially needed makeup—and probably a lot of foundation to cover up the scratches.

She discovered, much to her surprise and dismay, that Julie did not stock a large assortment of makeup. In fact, it seemed to be restricted to a bar of soap—and a proud, stiff-necked one, at that.

Anne hurried back down to her room to grab her makeup. It took two trips to convey the necessary ingredients up to Julie’s room. Anne hurriedly began applying foundation to her face after carefully washing her face with Julie’s stiff and unyielding bar of soap.

She realized, halfway done, that she had a tiny sliver of glass in her right cheek. She hurried downstairs to get tweezers.

As she passed her dad in the hallway, he commented, “Only got your foundation half-poured, honey? You have to have a solid foundation if you ever want to build anything on it.”

“I know, Dad,” Anne replied, “I’m just having a bad day.”

“I’m sorry to hear it,” he said. “I’ve learned that you have to discipline bad days, otherwise they’ll never shape up.”

Now Anne was curious. “What do you mean?”

“Well,” Dad said, taken aback, “um...First, you have to realize that you’re not in control of everything.”

“I found that out when I was three years old. You have any more insights?”

“I mean that you’re not really in control of your life.”

“I don’t think I figured that out until I was four, but don’t let me interrupt you.”

“What I guess I mean to say is that beating on everybody else isn’t the solution to a bad day. If you want to beat on somebody, beat on the bad day.”

“I haven’t been beating on everybody else!” Anne protested.

“I didn’t say you did,” Dad said. “I just said—”

“Yeah, go ahead and repeat it,” Anne said dryly. “Rub it in, won’t you?”

“No, no, you’re doing fine! It’s just—”

“Glad to hear it. Now, would you mind getting on with the point so I can get on with my life?”

Her dad sighed. “Okay, so maybe I was wrong.”

“Was that an apology? If so, you could have done better. Getting on your knees always looks good and humble.”

“No, I meant about saying that you were doing fine.”

“What are you trying to say now? That you didn’t mean to apologize?”

“No, no—”

“Well, if you meant to apologize, by all means, get on with it. I’m not best friends with Father Time, so it’s not like I have all the time in the world or anything.”

“I’m sorry if you feel that way,” Dad began.

“Don’t feel like you need to apologize for me,” Anne said. “I can apologize for myself when needed, thank you.”

“Can I say anything right?” Das asked, exasperated.

“Well, Dad, I don’t know. I’ve known you for twenty years, and I can’t think of a single time when you did.”

“That’s a comfort. At least I’ve been consistent.”

“You saying I’m not?”

“Well, I didn’t mean that when I first said it, but yeah, you can take it that way.”

“So now you think you can trap me into insulting myself? I may not be smart, but I’m not that stupid.”

“I didn’t say you were stupid!”

“Well, you’re certainly implying it.”

“You’re hopeless,” Dad said with sigh, about to move on.

“Hey, you can’t just say, ‘that’s a teenager for you,’ and move on with your life. I’m not a teenager any more.”

“I know you’re not a teenager.”

“You could start acting like you know it.”

“I thought I did.”

“But thinking and actually doing something are two different things. You of all people should know that.”

“I do know that,” Dad said.

“Well, then, I would very much appreciate it if you did something about it.”

“What do you expect me to do?” Dad asked.

“Treat me like a lady.”

“Hmm…” Dad paused for a moment. “If that’s what you want, then you could start treating me like a gentleman.”

Anne was a bit taken aback by that statement, but with the natural aplomb that she had carefully developed over the years, she managed to hide her surprise.

“Well, at any rate, I hope you have a great day,” Dad said. “I’m still not sure you’re ready for it, but then again, I don’t know if I would ever think you ready for it. At any rate, this should be a happy day for you.”

“Thanks, Dad,” Anne said, the tears coming quickly to her eyes. Ashamed, she wiped them away and gave her dad a quick hug.

With that, Dad disappeared into his office. Anne was almost sure that she heard a sob. But, she had business to attend to. She found a pair of tweezers and removed the offended sliver from her cheek. With the painful business out of the way, she resumed putting on her makeup.

When she was finishing putting on the foundation, and admiring how well it hid her blemishes, she heard noises from the direction of the bed. Evidently, Julie wasn’t going to stay in bed forever.

“What’s wrong with you?” asked a groggy voice from somewhere amid the pile of blankets and sheets.

“I’m having a bad day,” Anne said.

“Aww, poor you,” Julie said. “I have those every day.”

“Very funny,” Anne said. “You wouldn’t believe what I’ve gone through.”

“I’d believe it. You may be smart, but you definitely aren’t the one in the family with all the brains.”

“And who, pray, would that be?”

Julie made an elaborate gesture, which appeared to be (although the gesture was rather bipartisan) indicating herself.

Anne let out a harrumph, as she began pulling on her pantyhose.

“I think I heard something going on earlier today.”

“Interesting observation, dear.” Anne said, her body bent almost in half as she slipped the hose over her toes.

“I think I heard you fighting.”

“I wasn’t fighting!” Anne insisted, straightening her body.

Unfortunately, she had forgotten, probably due to her excitement, about the low ceiling.

After the necessary time spent in rubbing the sore part of the head, Anne resumed pulling on her pantyhose, only to find that she had, of course, grabbed the pair that had a run right down the left leg.

Impatiently, she started back down to her room to grab another pair. It probably would have been a good idea if she had taken off her pantyhose first, as the stairs were made of a finely-polished hardwood. You see, nylon and polished wood have this strange relationship. They used to fight in a big way, but now they just let things slide. But see, in her hurry, Anne didn’t think of that until she was already sliding down the stairs on a sore rear.

Even that wouldn’t have been a big deal, except that, like most stairs, this one had a turn halfway down (or up, depending upon whether you like to approach matters from the top or bottom).

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never found running into walls to be a pleasant experience. This one didn’t contradict my observations.

With a new pair of pantyhose on, Anne felt like a new woman. But like all feelings, this feeling didn’t last long, as she glanced in the mirror and realized that in her recent fall, she had smudged her makeup.

After managing to repair her makeup without any mishaps, Anne thought that perhaps she had gotten the bad day out of her system.

With little trouble, Anne soon had everything ready to go. She grabbed her stuff, went out to the car, and voila! she already had her keys, and the car started, wonder of wonders. Anne drove to the church, sure that now, at least, her day had taken a turn for the better. But when she accidentally took a wrong turn, she had second thoughts.

But sure enough, Anne got to the church without crashing or something else as stupid (not to say crashing is necessarily stupid, but you have to admit that the fact of simply driving a car is asking for a crash).

Anne hurried into the church, but was stopped just inside the door.

“Why, hello,” Dave said. “My dearly beloved has arrived.”

Anne was rendered speechless for a moment. “We’re not married yet,” she said, itching to get moving.

“Of course not,” Dave said, taking her hands in his. “Don’t you want to stand here and savor the moment?”

“What kind of nonsense is that?” Anne said, pulling her hands away.

Dave was obviously taken aback, but he replied gently. “This is the day we’re getting married. Don’t tell me that the moment we first see each other on our wedding day isn’t special.”

Anne softened. “I’m sorry, Dave. I’ve just been having a bad day, and I guess I let it get me into a bad mood.”

Dave took her hands again. “I’m sorry to hear that.”

The words brought up the memory of the earlier conversation with her Dad, and Anne burst into tears.

If Dave had been surprised before, now he was utterly taken aback. It wasn’t quite the response he had been expecting. Since he couldn’t think of anything to say that would be likely to stop the tears, he just gave her a hug, since he had heard from reliable sources that hugging often helped a lot.

She just cried harder, and it wasn’t because he was squeezing her too hard—Dave wasn’t like that—the hug also reminded her of her dad.

Dave wasn’t sure what to do. And it is somehow, at times like this, that the most inopportune advice is given by “well-meaning” friends.

Ron, one of Dave’s friends, pulled him away. “You just have to leave her alone,” Ron whispered. “Women are tricky. They cry so that men feel sorry for them, and do whatever they want. You can’t give in to that, otherwise you won’t be taking your rightful place as the head of the wife.”

Dave thought he saw the wisdom in that, and turned and went back to what he was doing, leaving Anne to cry alone.

Well, she wasn’t alone for long. Seems as if the mental institution had blabbed on her to the social agency, which sent out a social worker, along with a policeman (for reasons known or unknown).

When the social worker came in, Anne was still crying.

“Are you Anne Calahan?”

Anne nodded, wiping away a tear.

“Do you want to come along with us?” the social worker asked.

Anne stopped crying as she was starting to realize that something was going on. She glanced up, and noted that the social worker was an overweight woman in her late forties, a serious fashion misfit, wearing dark clothes that were more fitting to a gothic movie than the present time, with makeup to match, and that the policeman was a white male, about thirty-five, about six-foot, roughly one-hundred-eighty pounds, with sandy hair and a perpetually unlit cigar.

“What’s wrong?” Anne asked.

“Nothing’s wrong, honey. We’d just like you to come along with us for a little bit.”

Now, Anne may or may not have been dumb, but she wasn’t stupid. “Why?”

“I’ll tell you when we get there. Now, come along.”

“I don’t want to talk to you,” Anne said, turning to leave. The conversation was over as far as she was concerned.

But the social worker wasn’t done. Nor was she alone.

A firm hand fell on Anne’s shoulder. “Hold on a second, miss,” said the officer. “Come along with me.”

Late that night, when Dave had managed to cut through all the red tape and had Anne released from the detention center at the mental institution, Anne wondered drearily what else could go wrong on such a day as it had been.

So she wasn’t quite expecting Dave to kiss her. For the first time, too.

All in all, she thought it was the perfect end to the rottenest day she had ever gone through.

© 2007-2017 Zack Reynolds. All rights reserved.