Mallory pulled on the wooden rake handle using all of her strength to bring the dead, decaying leaves towards her. She huffed and brought her sweaty arm to her sweaty forehead in an attempt to relieve herself. She huffed and sighed and went right back to raking the leaves into a pile before her. She worked at it diligently clearing the area around the tree stump. Her long brown hair felt like a hand rubbing her back as it swayed across her back while she worked.
“Ms. Jones,” a man’s voice asked as she looked up to see the face of the overseer.
“Yes, Mr. Riley?”
“Let’s pack it up.”
Mallory gathered up the pile of leaves into a black plastic bag and gathered up the edges into her hand tying a thick knot. She flung the bag over her shoulder and walked over to the work truck. With a grunt she chucked the bag into the back of the truck and smiled, her day was done.
“How many hours do I have now Mr. Riley,” she asked as she opened the door to the truck cab.
“Um, let me see here,” he looked at some pages clipped on a clipboard. Flipping through the pages he said, “Well, today was six and a half hours but I’ll round that up to seven for yah. So, that makes about … let me see. That makes 80 hours give or take an hour.”
“80 hours?” she huffed and jumped into the truck.
“How many more do you got left?”
“Like a hundred I think.”
“Damn, well, you’ll get through it, better than jail, right?”
“I guess,” Mallory said looking out of her window as the trees whooshed past her, the truck bumbling down the road occasionally throwing her up into the air.
Mallory thought back to that night. Her hair had been much shorter then and she was looking forward to going out with her friends. She was wearing her red racing dress, with the stripes down the side, fire truck red stockings, and a pair of black converse all stars. She was wearing makeup, shiny red lip-gloss, and glittery blue eye shadow.
She remembered how she was walking around in downtown Claironville, walking up Main Street past all the locally owned shops. She was smiling waving at the different people that she had known since she was a little girl with pigtails.
As she reached the movie theater, she saw Sean standing outside smoking a cigarette.
“Hey Sean,” she said smiling at him. “What’s up?”
“Nothing,” he said. “What’s up with you?”
“Just trying to get drunk or something.”
“I can help you with that or something,” he said as he pulled a leaf out of her hair.
“How much you want?”
“I got like 20 bucks,”
“Aiight, I got you,” he said as he put his hand on her shoulder and they walked away.
She was sitting on her bed now, holding a large brown piece of paper. Her brother had given her a book on origami when he visited her in rehab. Lyle was such a good brother and son. He never let his parents down as she had done. She was looking at the instructions to make a dinosaur.
They had been in the park, Mallory and Sean, snorting Ketamine and smoking cigarettes when Sean got sick. She looked around for a phone and couldn’t find one.
She began folding the paper to make the creases necessary to make the dinosaur. At this high level of origami preparation creasing was a necessity, it would avoid tons of unnecessary rips and repeats.
Sean looked pale and he eyes rolled back. Mallory just wanted to lie down, she felt so good, almost like she was up above the trees looking down at her and Sean.
“Okay, man up,” she said to herself as she forced her body to run. Her muscles ached, her body just wanted to slump down onto the black, smooth, road. She screamed as a big white SUV stopped just inches from her head. Mallory fell back onto the pavement, she felt so good, and the ground was so soft and comfortable.
She began to form the head of the dinosaur. She was almost finished, her fingers barely shaking as she made the intricate folds necessary.
“Sean’s sick,” she said as she smiled and began to drift off to sleep. “He’s in the park.” A voice began to speak to her asking her questions, telling her not to go to sleep.
She placed the finished dinosaur on the table. “I miss you Sean,” she said as she looked out the window past the trees and even further still.