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Traffic Signs - cellophane — LiveJournal
the story of an invisible girl
Traffic Signs
Construction has necessitated my using a new freeway exit on the way home from work every day. Last week, as I pulled up to the stoplight, I noticed a small white posterboard with black writing.

mom is so sorry.

the board proclaimed, with a sad face next to the text.

The next board was even more poignant. "Natalie come home," it pleaded. "Come Home Nat." They were both decorated with little hearts.

I think about these signs every time I drive by, and I say a little prayer for Natalie, wherever she may be. I hope she is safe.

I am generally the type to build a story in my head from insignificant little details. But these signs, these details, are so real and so beyond insignificant, and I'm paralyzed trying to imagine the scenario that would lead to these black-and-white hand-drawn signs. I just keep getting stuck in the vast helplessness a woman must feel, when her only option is to put some signs on a freeway intersection, hoping there is a chance her daughter might see them....

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pi3832 From: pi3832 Date: June 2nd, 2010 05:06 am (UTC) (Link)
Burning cynicism follows....

No one calls her Natalie. She's been known as "Lee" to everyone but her delusional mother every since she started smoking and wearing faux black-pearl earring at 14. She says the earrings look like dried blood to her, and she speaks from experience. She also has a burning desire to beat the shit out of whiny chicks who get all weepy over movie vampires.

She makes money doing off-the-books waitressing at a sleazy bar. The men grope her and say nasty things, but the bartender sells her cigarettes and beer at cost. She's been coach-surfing with some waitresses and strippers she knows, occasionally spending a few days with a sort-of boyfriend. He's a mean drunk, though, so it only lasts until he gets a good tear on, then she cuts out for a few days for him to sober up.

It's the same kind of shit she would have to pull with some of the men her mother would latch onto periodically. She stopped trying to take her mother with her a long time ago, after that time that the cops showed up and her mom told them it was Lee's fault, her being unruly and "strung out", to keep the guy-of-the-month out of jail. He ended up there anyway, two days later, and somehow that was Lee's fault too.

Not that she gave a shit. Her mother's a fucking whack job, as far as she's concerned, and if she ever saw that sign she'd laugh her fucking ass off. She knows it just means that the old lady is between men and desperate for her to come home and play "I love Mommy" until Mr. Wrong Part 82 slimes his way through the door and down the hall. Lee doesn't want to be part of her mom's shtick anymore, not a prop in her mother's demonstrations of what a Good Mom she is. "Have you been doing your homework, Nat-A-Lee?"

Poor Lee's got too many tattoos, a big one on her neck, and tear-drop in the corner of her eyes. Quality workmanship tatts, because she's not some hill-billy, but she's mostly unaware that they still tag her as soon-to-pass-expiration-date, tag her as not worthy of an investment, not worthy of the effort.

She's got ambition and bulldog-bite tenacity, but she's too ignorant of too many things to have a hope. In a time where you could start your education at 16 and make something of yourself, she could have risen far. But she's turning 18 and she's too clueless about banking, resumes, interviews, civil rights and the power of reading to make it. She'll go down kicking and screaming, but she's going down.

But she'll be godDAMNed if she'll give that weak-willed, spineless, selfish bitch of a mother the satisfaction of sitting ringside while the count rolls inevitably on to ten on her. Fuck that. Give her a tip, give her a light, give her some place warm and dry that doesn't smell too bad to sleep tonight, but don't give her your fucking pity. Lee's got what she expects, and as far as she's concerned her mother's got what she deserves.

Little hearts. Ha!
djinnthespazz From: djinnthespazz Date: June 3rd, 2010 12:26 am (UTC) (Link)
nice piece of writing
(no subject) - davehogg - Expand
From: tonycaselli Date: June 3rd, 2010 04:41 am (UTC) (Link)
Okay, that's heartbreaking. That's the kind of thing that'll make me put my iPad down, get outta bed, and go kiss my sleeping kids...
God, life.
From: writerwench Date: June 3rd, 2010 11:39 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh gods I read that and realised that I'm putting up verbal signs just like that, trying to divert my very precious younger daughter off the dark highway that is speeding her into deep depression.
And my pathetic little posters are just as ineffective.
Oh shit. There's NOTHING I CAN DO as her mother to steer her away from that awful pain.
mbumby From: mbumby Date: June 5th, 2010 02:13 am (UTC) (Link)
I saw those -- hadn't seen "Natalie" -- but saw Nat. And wondered a lot.

I wish them both well. And good luck.
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