Everyone has a past. Some have a good one; others, not so much. Marianna couldn’t escape hers if her life depended on it.
As her bad luck would have it, her life did indeed depend on it. She just didn’t know it yet.
Marianna was a quiet girl, living in her small hometown in the same house she had grown up in. Her parents, who had died months after her high school graduation, had left it to her in their will. That was the family tradition: dying young, passing on the house to the young and unprepared offspring. It had been that way for generations, so many that no one remembered exactly how many anymore. Mari didn’t mind much. She knew that was just the way it was. There wasn’t any sense in trying to change it, so she went along. At least she didn’t have to worry about finding a new place to live.
Her life was as quiet as she was, maybe quieter even. She worked as a librarian’s assistant, attended church every Sunday, and spent most evenings at home. She enjoyed reading and crotcheting. When she wanted a little excitement, she did crossword puzzles. She had a cat, who never minded the silence and always loved the yarn. They had a happy life.
Some of the church ladies, prone to gossip and meddling, would not-so-subtly try to play matchmaker for Mari. She knew they meant well, but she just wasn’t interested in experiencing the turmoil of dating and applying makeup and eating in front of someone else. She was perfectly happy to sit home with her cat and their yarn. It was a quiet, simple life, and that’s how Mari liked it.
Despite her introvertedness, or perhaps because of it, she had experienced many a rough patch, mostly alone. When her parents passed away, they’d left a lot of debt along with the house. Mari’s job, although steady, didn’t pay nearly enough to cover the cost of her parent’s interrment. She barely covered her daily expenses. Of course, she was too shy to tell anyone what was wrong, let alone ask for help. And of course, the church gossips found out somehow anyway and told Pastor Michaels. He wasn’t an intrusive man, but he knew Marianna would never come to him about the situation. Luckily for her, his generosity and compassion were greater than his loathing for meddling, so he took her aside and offered to chip in. He wouldn’t take no for an answer. Knowing how indebted she would feel, he simply told her she could volunteer for events and cleanup duty a few extra times a month.
Unfortunately, this was only one of many hardships Mari had endured. Her parents had been good ones, but their early deaths had left her a bit unprepared for adult life. They’d insisted that she focus on her education rather than get a job. They hadn’t been rich but they had been well enough off that she didn’t have to worry about saving up for college. Despite the debt they left, she’d decided to enroll in the local community college and take courses toward an Associate’s in art. She lasted a semester before her shyness got the best of her. She couldn’t handle the bustle of the campus and the scrutiny over her work. Her professors loved her artwork and told her she had tons of potential, but all that positive attention was almost as hard for her to take as criticism would have been.
So she had dropped out, ashamed of her failure and the fact that her introverted nature had kept her from pursuing something she loved. She resolved to never paint again.
Despite all the negatives in her life, she remained a positive person. She had trouble connecting with people, but she was always happy to lend a helping hand any time she could. Her church’s congregation adored her and always appreciated her contributions. Her neighbors were grateful for her volunteerism when it came time for Neighborhood Watch, and the schoolkids always stopped at her house with fundraising brochures. No one could’ve asked for a better member of a community.
And no one would’ve guessed that Marianna, of all people, would be the one responsible for the rash of break-ins, prank calls, and acts of vandalism that would ultimately end with an explosion.
This is part one of a series of short stories, which will be part of a full-length novel. I don’t know yet if I will write the rest only for Indie Ink challenges, but you will be able to find the whole story under the category Writing>Novel>House of Cards or the tag “Marianna” on http://theschmorgasboard.com. Check back soon for part two!
For the IndieInk Writing Challenge this week, Mediocre Wayne challenged me with “The only way to preserve our future is to destroy the past.” and I challenged Kat with “There was no way I could have known then, but my decision would later shake the very foundation of the entire world’s beliefs to the core.”