The following day was Saturday and Brielle was given the day off. Brielle stood in front of her bedroom mirror. She had bought two dresses for her upcoming date with Malcolm. She was excited about tonight and wanted to look her best. She took each of the two dresses by their hangers and placed one against the front of her body, then the other, trying to decide which one she wanted to wear. Jane knocked on the door.
“Mom?” She called.
“Come in, sweetie,” Brielle cheerfully called back.
Jane entered and saw the dresses hung on the closet door.
“Oh, those dresses are gorgeous!” she gushed, “Did you buy them for your date with Malcolm tonight?”
“I did, and I need your opinion here. Which one of the dresses do you think I should wear tonight? The blue sundress with white polka dots, or the solid red, form-fitting dress?” Brielle asked.
“The red one! Definitely!” Jane told her, “You’ve got to wear the red one on your first date! And I’ll take over while you’re out tonight. I’ll watch the baby and keep Olivia in check.”
“Now, I’ve also got to go meet with Kim at the salon to go get my hair done,” Brielle told her.
“Sure. But Mom, why do you have to do all that? You look fine already?”
“Oh, honey! Do you know how long it’s been since I went out on a date? My last date was with your daddy and that’s been eighteen years ago. I feel like a fish out of water or like a baby learning how to play. I feel as if I need to re-learn the dating game.”
“Oh, Mom! You’ll do fine. I know you will.”
Brielle smiled, putting her arm around her eldest daughter shoulder, then kissed her cheek.
“So, did Bruce ask you out again?” she asked.
“We’re going out next weekend. He’s taking me to the fair. But tonight, he’s got to work so I’m staying home with Olivia and the baby while you and Malcolm go out. You know, I really think that things are going to work out just fine, Mom,” Jane said with a smile.
Later that morning, Brielle walked into Kim’s salon. A smiling Kim greeted her at the door.
“Well, come in, Cinderella. We gotta get you ready for a hot date to-niiight!” Kim said in an excited and playful tone, “So, are you excited?”
“A little. Lord, it’s been eighteen years since the last time I was out in the dating world,” Brielle confessed to her as she sat down in the barber’s chair and leaned her head back into the washing sink. Kim turned on the water and ran it over her long, blonde highlighted locks.
“Oh, you’ll do fine. Don’t worry. And what did you say you needed today?” she said.
“I need a retouch on my highlights, they’re getting a little brassy,” Brielle told her.
“We can do that! I’ll have you looking fresh and new for Malcolm tonight. Oh! By the way, I’ve got some new tea to serve today. Grant cheated on Misty again,” Kim informed.
“Oh, Lord that’s not news, Kim. That’s common knowledge. Grant’s a well-known philanderer. From what I’ve heard, he cheats on Misty every chance he gets and with every other woman in town. Grant Lindsay’s notorious around here! He’s always been a lowlife womanizer, and everybody knows it,” Brielle chuckled.
“Well, it sure doesn’t stop the droves of immoral and unscrupulous women from waiting in line for their turn with him. You know? I never understood that. They know he’s a pig, but they still make their hearts vulnerable to him,” Kim continued, “Of course, I can’t blame Grant. Being married to the likes of Misty Allen? And she’s known for putting that man down, calling him a weak bitch, both to his face and to everyone else. It’s a wonder they don’t just get divorced and be done with it.”
After Kim finished the hair washing, she wrapped Brielle’s head in a towel and led her over to another barber’s chair.
“They’ve got two children. So, I guess he figures it’s just cheaper to keep her,” Brielle added as she sat down.
“Well, naturally, the way she treats him, Grant’s going go out and find his love somewhere else, even if it is a lie. And why not? There were plenty of women in town who make him feel like a man, so he takes advantage,” Kim said as she began combing Brielle’s long, wet hair, starting from the tips and working her way up to the roots.
“Boy, your hair has really grown since you’ve been back. It’s down to your butt, nearly. And you do have a few split ends.”
“Just give the ends a light dusting.”
“I will do. And here’s something you haven’t heard about. But! A couple of snooty teachers from the high school came in to have Celia, Melissa, and me do their hair. And they discussed you, Jane, and Olivia while they were here. I didn’t like it, but I went along. A lot of people are mad at you from taking your kids out of Thomasville schools and sending them to Pathways Home School,” Kim went on, “I mean, they are really mad. And they’re that way every time a parent takes their child out of these public schools. So, just to let you know, you aren’t alone in this.”
“What the hell business is it of their anyway? They’re our children, not theirs,” said Brielle.
“Yeah. Well, they don’t see it that way. They see it as a middle finger to their precious Schools and school staff. And they take high offense to it. They also see it as something that makes them look bad. And they despise anyone who does or says anything to make them look like the bullies and creeps they are. So, I’ve got to warn you, they’re talking. And I heard they’re planning to get CPS involved to make you look unfit. They also plan to go after Jane and charge her with assault and battery. It’s a good thing you took Jane out of that school when you did, because I was also informed that Mr. Winchester and the school district have filed an unruly child report on Jane. And they’re also talking about going after the McCauley’s too. They want to get back at Bruce for helping you defend against those bullies at the park,” Kim explained.
“Wow! The principal told me about the unruly child report when I went to the school to turn in Jane’s books, and I suspected that they were planning to charge Jane with A and B. But I had no idea about their plans to get CPS involved,” Brielle said with a sigh.
“Well, that’s what they’re saying, Brielle. But I know that Jane fought because she had to, not because she wanted to. And I don’t think anyone should be punished for defending themselves against a bunch of bullies. And just between you and me, Raina and I are going to follow your lead, Brielle. First thing Monday, we’re enrolling our kids into Pathways and Big Bruce McCauley? You know, Bruce’s dad, the auto mechanic? He told Hank last night that he’s going to enroll Bruce into Pathways on Monday. And a few others are enrolling their kids in Pathways as well. It seems you’ve started a trend in this town, Brielle- a mass exodus from Thomasville Schools. Just in the last four days, droves of kids have exited Thomasville Elementary, Middle, and High schools like Israelites coming out of Egypt,” Kim told her.
“Well, I’m glad to hear that. Let’s just hope that the Pharaohs in Thomasville stay put and let them go,” Brielle said.