The first Fiction Friday post is from my upcoming novel, Stealing Jenny (to be published in September), which is about the abduction of a pregnant mother by an emotionally unstable infertile woman:
Jenny and her son began the short jaunt up the street to the bus stop. Caleb, at three years of age, was not walking as fast as she’d like, but the bus wouldn’t be arriving for another ten minutes. She thought back to Tom’s question about his mom coming over and helping her out at home. He wasn’t serious — just angry this morning — which was why he suggested it. But it annoyed her when Tom mentioned his mother in an argument.
Since the separation, then divorce, of Tom’s parents three years ago, Doris had become increasingly more belligerent. Jenny tried to be sensitive to her mother-in-law’s emotional highs and lows. But when she was having a bad day, Jenny was almost always on the receiving end of any criticisms and cross comments. Doris had always been critical of Jenny’s laissez-faire attitude towards housekeeping, but generally speaking, before the divorce, her mother-in-law would keep those comments to herself. Since the break up, however, that had changed.
Her mom had offered to pick up the kids from the bus stop next week, as well as perform the household duties, when Jenny was closer to delivery. Jenny understood why her mom wanted to be with her ailing sister in Saskatchewan, but she secretly wished that her mother would return sooner.
As she approached the bus stop, Jenny noticed a woman there. That’s odd. My girls are the only ones who get off at this stop. I wonder why she’s there. Immediately, she became uneasy and looked away. Stop it, Jen. This is Sutherland, a quiet neighborhood with virtually no crime rate.
The woman was smoking and staring in the distance. As usual, that area was deserted until the neighborhood kids returned home from school.
The lady looked familiar. She was tall and slightly overweight. Jenny glanced at her middle and realized that the woman was wearing a maternity top. When Jenny moved closer to her, the woman finally made eye contact. “Hello, Jenny. How are you?”
“I’m fine. Are you waiting for somebody?”
“I’m waiting for you.” The woman dropped the cigarette on the ground and stamped it out.
“Me? Do I know you?”
“Uh-huh. I work at the Sutherland Veterinary Hospital.”
“How’s Bootsie doing?”
“She’s fine, uh…”
“I remembered that you were expecting pretty soon?”
“Yes. You too?”
“Uh…yes, me too.”
“When are you due?”
“Around the same time as you.”
“Oh?” Jenny’s large round stomach looked about like it was about to pop compared to this woman, who appeared to be six months pregnant at most. She must be having a small baby.
“Well, you know,” Denise continued, “my cousin’s got these maternity and baby clothes and they’re all high end stuff and I remembered seeing you and wondered if you might like them.”
“That’s nice of you, but don’t you need them?”
“I’ve already taken a bunch and these are the ones I won’t use. Come over here. I’ve got them right here in my car.”
Jenny thought the woman was a bit strange, and again, she felt uneasy, but she wanted to be polite. After all, she did know her from the vet’s office and she was pregnant. If you can’t trust a pregnant woman, who can you trust? “I guess it can’t hurt to take a look, but I’m almost ready to deliver and won’t be needing any maternity clothes.” Denise walked quickly to a car parked close by, Jenny and Caleb following behind. She could see the woman opening up the back door and leaning in. She stepped back. “Right in there.”
Jenny lowered her head to peer inside. She couldn’t see clothes anywhere. All of a sudden, she felt something smashed against her face and nose. Breathing in a vaguely sweet scent, she jerked her head from side to side. She opened her mouth to cry out and inadvertently inhaled. She tried to move her arms, but she immediately went limp.
Stealing Jenny will be published this September.
copyright 2011 Ellen Gable Hrkach