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For the first time in a long time she drove home with a smile on her face. Despite the late hour she spent the whole ride home singing along to her car radio—even if it wasn’t her favorite song. And she was happy as could be. It was late, and she was tired and in need of a shower, but she was happy.

She took a sharp curve too fast, and something in her trunk shifted. For a brief moment the old feelings of not being good enough and self consciousness flashed across her face like a dark shadow. But it was brief. “I’ll take care of that garbage tomorrow.” She told herself, and continued loudly singing along.

When she got home, she slammed the car into park and the thing in the trunk shifted again. She blinked at the sound. Then, she turned off the car and went inside.

She sang in the shower—it always seemed to be the last song she heard that got stuck in her head—she belted out the chorus to that catchy pop tune that seemed to be everywhere at the moment, and used her loofa as a microphone. Afterward, instead of laying in bed thinking about all the depressing stuff, she curled up under the covers and pushed all the negative thoughts out of her head. “Tomorrow is a new day,” she told herself. “And I’m going to own it.”

When she woke the next morning she was bright eyed and bushy tailed and still very happy. She made herself a delicious breakfast; there was nothing like a good meal to start your day right. She was feeling so confident that she decided, for the first time in a while, she would dress up for work, and put on some make-up.

Once she was ready, cute dress and “frankly the best make-up look I’ve ever done,” she looked at herself in the full length mirror. “People are going to ask, “why are you so dressed up today” and “what’s with all the makeup?!”” She realized it would draw more attention to her. “I’m going to feel so stupid!” She groaned. “You can wrap a pig in velvet and throw some lipstick on it but it’ll still be a pig,” she remembered. The darkness of that old depression and low self worth shaded her face once again. But again she froze, and when she looked back up, she smiled at herself in the mirror and said, “You look great today!” And she did.

Once in the car, she pulled out of her parking spot and the thing in her trunk moved again. She paused, then said, “I’ll take care of that later.” And turned her radio up.

Throughout her work day she got complements she’d never gotten from people who she thought didn’t know she existed. They said things like, “you look great today!” And “wow, cute dress!” For the first time in ages she felt confident. “Maybe,” she thought, “I’ll keep this up, I feel so great!”

Toward the end of the day there was free cake and drinks in the cafeteria in celebration of someone’s retirement. She was enjoying cake and conversation—she usually took her cake back to her cubicle— when she over heard people talking.

“No, she never came in to work. I was about to ask you if you’d spoken to her.” A man said.

“I actually haven’t spoken to her since yesterday,” the woman responded.

“I wonder if everything’s okay? She doesn’t usually miss work.” The man said. “Especially if there’s a chance to make fun of people for eating too much cake!” He laughed.

She just stared at them, a darkness rolling over her face once again.

“HEY!” She heard a voice. She turned toward the sound. “You okay? You zoned out there for a minute,”

“Oh, sorry. Yeah, I’m—actually I’m not feeling well.” She said. “I think I’ll have to sneak out early.” She put her unfinished cake down, and rushed back to her cubical for her purse and keys. As she ran out to her car she felt the lovely veneer of happiness begin to crack.

When she turned the car on, the radio she left loud blasted a song, scaring a tiny scream out of her. She stifled it and turned the radio down. He backed out as the sky darkened with gray storm clouds.

She took a few curves too fast as the heavy droplets of rain slapped her car. The dark gray sky worsened as she drove the unfamiliar roads. She tried to keep singing along to the radio, but kept getting distracted. Instead she tried to focus on the road, and staying safe in the heavy rain.

She hadn’t driven the route in some time, and it was brighter and drier when she had, but she had business to take care of, and she knew she’d be happier once she did.

A few more minutes and a few sharpe curves later and she was at her destination. She backed her car against the cliff and hit the trunk button on her dash, quickly climbing out of the car and into the rain.

She took a deep breath and raised the trunk lid. The tarp had come unwrapped bad a lock of perfectly bleached blonde hair and a red-manicured hand peaked out. “No one likes taking out the trash but everyone has to do it sometime.” She told herself.

She reached in and grabbed the corner of the tarp to pull it closer and the head of gorgeous blonde hair rolled forward. For a spilt second the darkness appeared and she thought, “Oh no!” She froze, but then refocused and said aloud, “almost done.”

She pulled and tugged until the blonde object was close, then one last hard tug, and she watched as the object in the trunk rolled down the embankment—hitting a few rocks on the way—and into the the lake below. She looked over the edge just long enough to make sure the object was gone, the she smiled widely and climbed back into her car.

Her cute dress ruined by rain and mud, her make-up smeared and running down her cheeks, she smiled in the rear view mirror and said to herself, “You looked great today.”

She pulled away from the cliff and drove away singing that catchy pop song that was everywhere these days.

Thanks for reading,

-c