RITUALS

by Christina Jean

 

Not much ever changes in Dwibe, Iowa. Everyone in this town is stuck in a huge rut with no prayer of ever getting out of it. All of the people in Dwibe have their own rituals and routines that make life tolerable in this small hopeless town. Nobody knows this better than Ida May Hinckle, the waitress at the Greasy Spoon Diner. Everyday for the last nine years the same people walk into the restaurant at the same time and order the same things and talk about the same boring subjects day after day. Take the sheriff for example. Every morning at about ten thirty he steps into the diner. "Hey there Doll, how's things?," and her reply is always, "Good Bill. How's the missus?" This goes on for several minutes until he finally orders his two eggs over easy and bacon.

Ida has her own rituals too. She leads a very secret life, though. No one person in the town knows much about her. Which is ironic because she could tell you all about anyone in the town. It is important to tell you about Ida's history because it explains her ritual.

...............

Doll, as Ida came to be known, was a shy girl who lived with her grandmother on the outskirts of town. Her grandmother, Minnie, was a long time resident of the town, and her grandparents had been one of the original founders of the town. Minnie always used to tell Ida the stories of how the vinyl siding salesman, Sam, came to town and other stories about the history of Dwibe. When Minnie finally passed on, she left all of her worldly possessions to Doll. Despite the money and the house that she got from her grandmother, she went to work at the diner.

She had been working there for only a few months when John moved in to town with his wife and newborn son. He came to town to try and start a new business, but there wasn't much of a market for a gourmet restaurant in the middle of Iowa. In any case he went to the diner and she fell in love at first sight. He was young and handsome and cultured. Qualities that she had never seen in a man. All of the men in Dwibe didn't know about the world or about love. She didn't know of any happily married men in the town. They all slept around and had never left Dwibe except to go see the car show in the next county over. John was from Chicago, and he had lived an elegant life with Julia. Doll new that John was her one chance to leave Dwibe and she loved him even more for that.

She talked to him and he actually understood who she was as a person. "Do you believe that there is someone out there for you?," John asked Doll. All of the color rushed to her face. "Well, do you?" She nodded her head at him and he smiled. "I think that I have just found mine." At the time she was a blossoming beautiful girl and had many men wanting to court her. That very night she became his mistress.

The affair lasted for almost a year and he fed her all the lines that men who cheat do. He told her he loved her and that he was going to leave his wife any day now, and she believed him. Then one day they were at his house in the middle of November and her life of happiness came to a halt. It was the single worst moment of Ida's life. John and Ida were lying in bed together when his wife, Julia, came home from the store. Ida tried to leave out the window, but she was too slow.

They moved away and Ida was left humiliated. Mable, the town gossip, spread it all around town and her suitors never called any more. Even today she is still considered the town home wrecker, despite the fact that the town is filled with whores. Doll knew that her one chance to leave that horrible town had passed, and that she was destined to become an old maid who waits tables untilher death.

Since then Ida has developed a ritual. Every night after she closes up the diner she goes home and puts on her beautiful red dress. She then gets out all of the things that she has to remember John by. She lays them on the table in front of her and cries for hours. Finally, at around midnight, she pulls out her handgun and just holds it in her hand for awhile. She cries her self to sleep every night.

............

Then there was the night that everything came out. She had been more lonely than usual that night and made a decision that would change her life. A man came into the diner that day and he had opened her eyes. He was knew and unfamiliar, but he was normal just like her. The only difference between the two of them was that he could leave the town behind him and not look back. She realized that she wasn't a prisoner of anyone besides her self.

She walked out of her pretty little house on the outskirts of town and just kept walking. She could feel the salty sting of her tears running down her face. People all the way in the middle of town could hear her crying out John's name, although everyone had forgotten him. She ran into town to the town park and just sat in the dirt in her beautiful red dress. All of the people came running to see what was happening and were shocked beyond belief. "I'll shoot all of you!!" She was absolutely hysterical and her eyes looked so sad that people felt more pity than fear. "You all did this to me! All of you! I'm all alone in this ugly world and it's all of your faults!" There were people in the crowd whispering about her. "Doll has finally lost her mind. I expected it to happen sooner or later but this is ridiculous." People in the crowd were wondering what was taking the sheriff so long.

After about ten minutes of this ranting she got up off of the ground and stood up straight . She held her head high and walked through the crowd of amazed people. The gun was lying on the ground where she had been just moments earlier. It was a remarkable thing to see, Ida May Hinckle walked on down the road with a blissful look on her face. She knew that she didn't have to be secret any more. There was nothing to hide from the rest of them and they knew that she was no longer afraid of what they might think or say. And then the craziest thing of all happened. She began to laugh and dance like a child. There was so much happiness in her eyes that it moved some of the townsfolk to tears.

She had found her release. At last she was free of the spell that they had all been under in that small little community. She was the one free thing in a town of enslaved souls. One ritual was all that it took to make her a prisoner, and one night was all that it took to make her free.