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Sunglasses on Cloudy Days

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There was a peculiar type of rain that always plagued Hatchetfield in the spring. It completely froze your skin when it hit you, but it never fully turned to hail. If you weren’t careful it drenched you right to the skin. The summer was the only time exempt from it with its total time of two weeks of nice weather. Despite the looming clouds that hovered above the town, it was scorching. Nearly 40ºC which was a rarity, to say the least. Almost every single inhabitant had taken to their porch or backyard. Cold drinks in hand and wearing as little clothing as socially acceptable. Meanwhile, the children all flocked to the beach and spent hours swimming in the lake. All things considered, the day should’ve been perfect. But all good things must come to an end, certainly on Linda Monroe’s watch. A bored expression was cemented on her face while her purse swayed against her while strutting down the street. Despite the clouds, she was wearing her very expensive pair of sunglasses that covered half of her face. Some would consider it a bold (or stupid) fashion choice, but people’s opinions meant nothing to her, or rather that’s what she let on.

 

Across the street, Becky Barnes was hurrying to get to work. Hair pulled up into her trademark cheerleader’s ponytail. It was the same hairstyle since high school, but her newest clothing choices were utterly shocking. While everyone else lounged in swimsuits or were completely topless, she was wearing jeans and a thin white turtleneck. Becky’s sunglasses were also less fashionable, from the clearance section at Walmart, but they did the job of covering a fair amount of her face. It was a recipe for utter disaster. Linda crossed over to Becky’s side of the street, intercepting her pathway. Before Becky realized what Linda was going to do, she found herself wrapped in a thoughtless hug, Linda’s fake, bitchy smile cemented on her face as she began to speak to her. “You poor darling! you must be sweltering. What’s with the turtleneck dear .” Rumours about her marital situation were quite common, but everyone either forgot unless actively speaking about it, or didn’t care. Linda on the other hand never forgot a piece of gossip that she could use to tear someone apart. 

 

The colour left Becky’s face and she quickly pulled away from Linda. Random hugs like that were far from her favourite thing, but getting one from Linda was first of all, unheard of. Second of all, a terrible thing to experience. She awkwardly pulled on her sleeves and forced a laugh before getting out “I um- burn- ginger trait-.” The looming clouds above showed no signs of leaving. The chance of anyone burning, ginger or not was practically nil. Linda’s laugh was far from good-natured as she continued smirking, going on how no one could burn in this weather. Becky’s polite half-smile was fading by the second as Linda continued about her rant on how out of season she looked, commenting on her choice of brands and complete attire. She even went so far as to grab at her shirt, attempting to roll up the sleeves. Becky tried to stifle a wince as she pulled it back down, and her reaction only fueled Linda’s need for this cruel form of entertainment.

 

It wasn’t long before her commentary was brought up to the glasses. She laughed cruelly before continuing her tangent. “I can’t believe you can stomach being inside a Walmart. I’d rather die. Your taste in accessories is almost as bad as your taste in men” she continued laughing through her words. They stared at each other for a moment. The reasons behind Linda’s glasses were a little embarrassing, but far from life-ruining. She had a hangover earlier in the morning, hence her choice of them. Bloodshot eyes were far from a good look on her, contrasting with her white-blonde hair and not in a pleasant way. No one would dare comment on the glasses to her face. But Linda had no issue exposing or degrading people in a public situation. Without warning, Linda yanked the glasses off her face. 

 

A deep purple bruise was stamped on Becky’s left eye, looking so foreign on her pale skin. So unnatural. But it was certainly real. Her face turned as red as her hair as she hastily grabbed them back, putting them back on, but the damage was done. Anyone in the area could’ve seen the mark. Becky knew very well that no one would ever help her out of this. The most she’d gotten were some pity-filled glances, though pity was one of the last things she wanted. Even so, she’d take the pity above the semi disgusted looks she got from some of her neighbours, some stifled laughs from some others. The rest were completely indifferent. They couldn’t care less about Linda and Becky’s petty feud or the disgusting man the latter was trapped with. Linda’s expression quickly turned faux sympathetic and worried, but the smirk spoke for itself as she began speaking to Becky as though she were a child. “Oh, you poor dear! What on earth happened to your face?”

It didn’t take a genius to guess what happened. But it was the “obliviousness” of people in town that kept Becky sane, possibly alive. She knew what the consequences would be if she ever tried to go to the police, or if someone started commenting on things a little too openly. Linda doing this and having someone react badly could be a death sentence from her. And a large part of Becky had a feeling that Linda knew this already, she just didn’t care. A bullshit excuse about opening a cupboard on herself to cover it up didn’t go very far considering she had used that one about a hundred times. Although she was far from satisfied with Becky’s response, Linda tossed her hair over her shoulder and continued walking. Her exit was so abrupt Becky was barely sure the conversation even happened. But the semi amused stares from her neighbours and the lingering gossip removed her doubts. By the time she realized how long she was standing there, frozen in the street, she was already late for work. While she half-ran to work, Linda continued along in the other direction, grinning at the lingering chaos that she, the self-proclaimed “queen of Hatchetfield” caused.