At Whitt’s End

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Welcome to another Friday Freewrite. Some days I just need to sit down and write. Some Fridays I share what I’ve written with you.

“It’s not in here,” Heppy replied, shooting a pointed glance back in my direction. As she stood at Whitt’s desk, crouched over an open drawer, the sunlight from an open, uncovered window bathed her in an orangey-purple glow. Watching her move through the sunset’s haze, I understood what he saw in her.

The auburn hair bunched high on her head tumbled out of its ponytail and fell in layers across her upper back, tickling at her olive skin. Her face was enthralling, too. Cherub-like. Just chubby enough to be soft, but easily chiseled to perfection with a single sweep of contour powder.

Perfect hair and an angel face. I didn’t stand a chance.

I shoved her hands aside and took her place at Whitt’s desk, trying not to feel triumphant as her pouty red lips slipped into a frown.

“Move,” I said. “You probably just missed it.” I reached for the shallow drawer and yanked it open, sending a slew of office supplies skidding forward. A packet of white reinforcement stickers, three loose paper clips, and a plastic roll of white out tape all came crashing past my waiting fingertips and collided with the front panel.

I flipped through the contents of the first two drawers while I watched Heppy out of the corner of my eye. She picked out a glossy strand of hair from her ponytail and started chewing on it. Then she folded her arms across her chest.

“Look, I don’t understand why we’re in here and not in his bedroom,” she whined. My fingers froze around a plastic sheath of index cards. An angry heat creeped over me. Suddenly, my head shot up, a sour expression on my lips.

“Seriously? His bedroom?”

Heppy just shrugged and selected another strand of hair to chew on.

“Look,” I said, letting out an aggravated sigh. “We’re looking in here because this is his office. Where else would his birth certificate be?”

“Well I know that,” Heppy replied, hooking the ringlet loose from her mouth with a slender finger. The curl bounced back into place with amazing vitality. “But don’t you think he’d keep it with other important stuff?”

“What other important stuff?” I asked, returning to my search. This was Whitt we were talking about. Nothing mattered more to him than the red Porsche parked outside. I crouched down to the floor and tried the thicker bottom drawer. As I yanked it open, a row of metal-tipped folders swung back and forth in their metal-rimmed tunnel. Filing cabinet. Bingo!

My fingers grazed quickly through the clear plastic tabs as Heppy continued behind me.

“Well, like, his keys and his phone and stuff.”

I nearly choked on my own scoff.

And then I thought about his phone. I tried to suppress the memory of discovering the contact list just days before he dumped me for Peppy Heppy. A seemingly endless crawl of girl’s names, ranging all the way from Abigail to Wilma. He’d had the number of every eighteen to twenty-four year old female in the district.

A slight sigh escaped my lips before I could stop it. Weeks had passed since I’d thought about that list. About what he’d done to me.

I shook my head now and kept sorting through the files. The last one looked promising; fat and sagging from the heft of the thick pile of papers it housed. I scanned the tag with my eyes, effortlessly making out his scratchy handwriting.

Important Docs: SScard, BCert, etc.

Of course he’d labeled it. Whitt was blunter than a third grader’s favorite crayon. Apparently he kept everything about himself open to the public: his social security number, the list of girls on his phone. He couldn’t at least try and keep this stuff hidden?

Outside, a car door slammed. I looked back at Heppy who stood on her toes to peek out the window.

“Linda,” was all she said. It was enough.

Whitt’s mom. We had to get out of there now.

Reaching back into the file folder, I grabbed the thick document and kicked the drawer closed.

“Got it,” I announced, standing and waving the birth certificate for Heppy to see.   She capped the tub of salve she’d been swirling her finger in and slathered the berry gloss across her lips.

“His middle name is Reginald?” she balked, waking with me to the door. I rolled my eyes while hers glossed over the dark inky lettering. Whitt and I had planned out the entire downstairs layout of our dream house in Florida and she didn’t even know his middle name.

And he’d still left me for her.

The sound of keys against the front door reached us from below. Heppy reached for the birth certificate, but I yanked it away.

“I’ve got it,” I said quickly, unimpressed with her balmy fingers. “You grab the scissors. We’ll need them for stage two.”

Heppy reluctantly traipsed back to the desk, snatched the bright orange hilt from the pencil cup, and rejoined me at the door. Silently we crept downstairs and out through the front door. Then we raced across the lawn to my waiting car.

And as I watched her sprint beside me, I almost warned her not to run with scissors.

Almost.

 

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