Pretty Vacant


Before reading this, try reading this

Eleven years earlier, Millicent is 24 years-old and a recent graduate degree recipient from NYU.

“Your card’s been declined. I ran it twice.”

The teenage cashier’s words spit at Millicent without regard for tact. Millicent’s sigh was audible to everyone else in line. This was the second time she’d experienced this humiliation in the last two months. The time before, she father, Arthur, has taken out a cash advance on it to pay for a hotel room at a casino for his girlfriend. She leaned on the sales counter. Her burgundy polished nails matched the skirt and blouse she wanted to buy.

“Do you have a lay away program?”

The clerk’s petulant headshake while mouthing “no” caused Millicent to formulate, in her head, a formula for a poison that could boil the girl’s insides. She snatched the card away and walked to her car. Swapping the card for her cell phone inside her knock off Louis Vouitton purse, she called Arthur. He answered on the fourth ring. Teh sounds of slot machines and cheering competed with his insincere greeting.

“Hey sweetheart? How’s recently masters decreed little girl?”

Only twenty-four and looking for her first job as a chemist, she was desperate for new clothes to wear to her interviews lined up for the following days.

“Dad, I’m alright with you not making my masters ceremony but leaving me no money to shop while I start my career is really frustrating. I know I said I would wait another year but I’ll taking over grandfather’s trust he left for me. This is nonnegotiable.”

A woman’s voice appeared on Arthur’s end of the call.

“Your usual table, Mr. Stingley?”

Millicent seethed. She loved her father but she wasn’t going down with him this time. In the seven years since her parents divorced, she’s covered for his drinking, gambling and horrible selections of girlfriends.

“Sweetie, let me work this out for you. If you want into your trust nine months early, I won’t block that. But this is a mistake. I’ll make some calls, pay more attention to the accounts, and make sure this doesn’t happen again. You believe me, right?”

Millicent reached her car. She dropped her purse as she opened the door. Her elbow caught a corner as it swung. It hurt but not enough to make a scene. She knew how to get her father’s attention.

“Ow! I hit my arm! My God, that hurts! Dad, this day just keeps getting worse!”

Her overreaction worked.

“Millicent, I’m so sorry. I’ll be in New York City tomorrow morning. I’ll fix our accounts. We’ll call the lawyer and get your trust opened. You deserve it. Forgive me, okay, sweetness?”

Millicent smiled and chose to not worry if he didn’t follow through on his promises.

“Thank you dad.”

She hung up before he said anything else. She wasn’t his doormat anymore. Her love for Arthur Stingley was now conditional.

****blogger’s note*****

This is a look back into the earlier life of Millicent and her father Arthur. It provides some insight into the current storyline of Dead Money, the summer blog series co-written with my good friend Tara of Thin Spiral Notebook. Head over to her place this morning to learn more about Pauley’s family history. We resume the current storyline next week with new chapters.

Here’s the Sex Pistols. You’re welcome