tagChain StoriesDry Valley Ch. 02

Dry Valley Ch. 02

byWyldBreeze©

Dry Valley Ch. 02 ~ Bucked-tooth Bailey

"Ringggg.......ringgggg....." Bailey heard the shrill tone of the phone as she struggled through the front door with two brown bags of groceries. Just as she made her way to the shining counter-top of her small kitchen and picked up the phone, one of the bags toppled over spilling its contents to the floor.

"At least it wasn't the eggs," she thought to herself as she said hello. Bailey was awarded with a soft "click" on the other end of the line. Rolling her eyes and letting out a breath of air, Bailey controlled her exasperation and tapped the caller ID button to see who's call she missed.

Bailey had learned at an early age that controlling her emotions was the way to cope in most any situation. How many times had she relied on that philosophy? How often had she wished that people would just forget she was there? How many times had they not? Controlling her emotions meant controlling the situation to some degree, and that control rarely wavered.

Bailey gave herself a mental shake as she saw her aunt and uncle's telephone number pop-up on the caller ID display panel.

"Hmmm....I wonder what Aunt Wanda wanted?" Bailey asked to herself. Sabrina, her cat, just opened her eyes and peered at her for a second before yawning lazily and settling back to sleep by the fireplace. Bailey dialed the O'Grady's number then bent over to pick up a couple oranges that had rolled across the terra cotta tiled floor of her kitchen when the bag fell to the floor. Aunt Wanda's peaceful voice said hello as Bailey sat the bag and its errant contents on the counter once again.

Bailey had been raised next door to her Aunt and Uncle in a small town where everyone knew everything about each other. She had spent many afternoons in the attic of their house hiding from the pain of her adolescence. She had become even closer, if possible, to the elderly couple after her parents passed away a year ago when her dad's single-engine plane had gone down in the Rockies. The O'Grady's loving ways and warm guidance had gotten her through the most difficult times of her life.

"Hi Aunt Wanda, it's Bailey."

"Hi sweetheart. How are you doing?" Wanda asked in her ever-present motherly voice.

"I'm ok. I just got in from the grocery store and missed your call. Is anything wrong?" Bailey asked with a hint of concern in her voice.

Bailey saw her beloved aunt and uncle on a weekly basis when they drove in to have dinner with her on Saturdays. She still worried about them, though as they were getting on in years.

"Oh, everything is just fine, sweetheart. I was just calling to invite you to dinner on Wednesday...say around 6:00?"

Bailey smiled to herself as she agreed to the mid-week dinner. The two women shared a few giggles as stories about Uncle O'Grady and his latest mishaps in his woodshop abounded. Bailey was somewhat pleased to hear that one of her few friends had returned to Dry Valley. She'd try to make a point to give Jess a call while visiting with her aunt and uncle. Jess had been one of the few people in school that had genuinely been friendly with her in their younger years. People were different towards her now, but then again she was a different person.

Gone were the days of "Bucked-tooth Bailey." It was amazing what a growth spurt, contact lenses, and a couple thousand dollars worth of orthodontics could do. While Bailey was completely transformed on the outside, she was still the same unsure girl on the inside. Her lack of confidence coincided with her inner control. The more uncomfortable the situation, the more controlled her emotions became. As her aunt detailed a story involving her husband and his misuse of a nail gun, Bailey's mind drifted to less light-hearted times.

Bailey had always been a quiet child. Things had often not been good in her home, though that was a well-kept secret. She was a loner by nature. An artist, a writer, a dreamer. Her loneliness was compounded by her looks. She had been tall and lanky, all arms and legs. In addition to her lack of curves, she'd had thick glasses and an overbite that had earned her the name of "Bucked-tooth Bailey."

She was quite the different person now. Her silky brown tresses hung in soft curls halfway down her back, stopping just shy of her rounded hips. Long lashes framed the emerald green eyes that had stayed shyly hidden for so long behind thick lenses of glass. Pouty, pink lips covered perfectly straight, sparkling white teeth that showed themselves in the smiles she had readily available for everyone. Her body had filled out in all the right places and it, along with her genuinely caring personality, often earned her appreciative, if not longing, glances from her male counterparts. Most of these wanting looks, however, she was oblivious to as she didn't see the beauty that others did. Her attention snapped back to her telephone conversation as she shared her aunt's laugh.

"Well, dear, I have to get dinner on the table. Your uncle thinks he's wasting away." Bailey heard the loving smile in her aunt's voice and felt a stab of longing for what she, herself, didn't have.

"Ok, Aunt Wanda. I'll see you Wednesday, then." Bailey answered.

"Oh, Bailey, could you get here around 5:30? We'll take your car if that's alright." Wanda said.

"My car? I thought we were having dinner at your place."

"Silly me." Wanda answered. "I must have forgotten to mention that we were dining with the Walkers on Wednesday."

Bailey heard the quick "click" of the phone before she had a chance to respond. She probably couldn't have verbalized her feelings on the subject anyway. Her heart was beating in her throat as she realized what her aunt had been up to. She was playing matchmaker again. This time, however, was different. Aunt Wanda was playing with fire and she knew it.

Tom Walker has always been an object of Bailey's affection. Back in high school, she had often imagined what it would be like to be a couple with him. It was a foolish dream, but one she'd often had. Perhaps it had been the kindness he had shown her when the others had laughed and mocked. Maybe it was the compassion he'd shown when he gave her a ride home after a particularly cruel joke the star pitcher of the baseball team had played on her in front of everyone. At any rate, Tom, his twin brother Mitch and his girlfriend Jessica had been the only real friends she'd had and even then, she had distanced herself from them to a degree.

"Get yourself together, Bailey." she mumbled to herself as she finished heating some soup for dinner. "It's just dinner and he's just a man." She tried to reassure herself but it was hard to when she knew the air seemed electrically charged when they were in the room together. Did he feel it, too?

Bailey wondered to herself how he would feel about seeing her again. Would he be shocked? Would he even care? Though she stayed in contact with her aunt and uncle, she rarely went back to Dry Valley. When she did venture back, it was for brief visits with her only surviving family. It must have been three or four years since any of her school mates had seen her; long before the ugly duckling had transformed into a beautiful swan.

"What have you gotten me into, Aunt Wanda?" Bailey mused aloud. Sabrina opened one eye and seemed to give her an all-knowing smirk as Bailey set the soup aside untouched.

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