Jen figured nobody with two working brain cells liked to clean closets. But there comes a time and that time was today. She’d bring order to the chaos behind doors number one, two, and three or die trying—a distinct possibility if all that junk fell on her. The EMTs wouldn’t find her body for days.
She’d dressed for the job in what she liked to think of as her Who cares? ensemble. Granted, if looks could kill, her lime-green shorts and neon-pink You Can’t Scare Me, I’m a Teacher T-shirt would slay them in droves. Her shoulder-length hair—most of it, anyway—was in a ponytail, and thus, out of her face. Makeup hadn’t rated a passing thought.
By quarter to twelve she’d muscled the mess out of her bedroom and spare room closets, separating the jumble into categories: Save and Put Back Neatly, Donate to Charity, To Save or Not to Save. Good intentions aside, Trash was still her smallest pile.
She was on her knees, praying the teetering tower of junk in her hall closet wouldn’t crumble to rubble and bury her, when the opening bars of “Does Your Mama Know?” sang from her back pocket. “Oh, for ….”
In her rush to dig out the cell, she nudged a strategically placed 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle of the Champs Élysées and set the tower wobbling. A strong sense of self-preservation had her slamming the door on the impending landslide.
“Ohmygod, ohymgod, ohmygod!”
“Candy! What’s wrong?”
“God. I get that. Are you okay?”
“Have you seen it?”
“Celebrity. The July issue.”
“It came out today. Okay, it actually came out about a week ago, but Philbert’s didn't get their shipment on time—”
“—because their supplier had trouble with a couple of his trucks, and the deliveries got pushed—”
“—back, but I happened to be there when they unloaded, and—”
“Calm down and tell me what’s going on!”
“Ohmygod! They printed it! They printed it, Jen!”
As her stomach started a slow slide to her toes, “What did they print?”
“Your e-mail! Can you believe it? They actually printed your e-mail!”
“Oh. My. God.” Jen’s butt hit the floor. Hard.
“This is over the top. Totally.”
“Totally,” Jen echoed faintly, struggling to comprehend the dire consequences of this latest ill-advised dare. Celebrity Magazine had printed her e-mail. “Ohmygod!”
“See? That's what I’m talking about!”
Jen closed her eyes. “My name?”
“Yep, it’s on there! Big as life! Even did a short bio on you. This is beyond great! This is super-great!”
“Great?” Her voice rose half an octave. “You think this is great? Are you insane? This is a disaster!”
“Yes way! You better believe it way!”
“Why?” Jen was rendered temporarily speechless. “Because I’ll look like an idiot! To a circulation of millions!”
“Oh, don’t be such a drag! You’re famous, Jen Casey! F-a-m- with an -o-u-s! And I can’t wait to spread the word!”
“No! Don’t—” The line went dead. Jen hit redial and got dumped in voice mail. “Crap,” she muttered. “Crap, crap, crap!” And stomping down the hall, jerked open door number three. Junk avalanched, burying her up to her knees.
Sigh. “Hi Mom.”
“Why didn’t you tell us?”
“Guess Candy called you, huh?”
“Candy? No, I don’t think so. Bob,” she called, “did you hear about the magazine from Candy Johnson? Oh. Okay. Says he got the call from Mrs. Shelton, the chief’s wife. You’re famous, baby!”
Famous with twenty volunteer firefighters, their wives, and who knew how many active retirees in Sun City. “Yep, I’m famous, all right.”
“You’re so clever with words. Didn’t I always say you should be a writer?”
“I always said you should be a writer. I can’t wait to tell your Uncle Steve. As a matter of fact, I’m going to call him right now. Bye, honey!”
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