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Sally Stapledin married Stephen Stapledin 7 springs ago in 1964. Still sour about having to give up her precious maiden name “Sally Summers.” She brewed about how she used to have it all and her name had proved just how perfect her life had been. Who didn’t love summer? Now she was stapled into this cookie cut house. She spent most of her time sewing dresses for her neighbors daughter, Esmerelda.
Esmerelda came to “Aunt Sally’s” every night after dinner to sneak candy and soda in before bed.
Her mother, Donna Domingo, knew just how many oatmeal raisin cookies and pixy sticks she ate at the Stapledins but she relished every second she had alone.
She spent her solitary time chain smoking and licking one half a cone of vanilla bean ice cream, the other half she used as an ashtray. Her Jamaican husband Danny came home at 6 every day.
He insisted she homeschool Esmeralda. He had grown up in a catholic school on the border of Hell, Michigan with crippling ADHD that got him taped into his desk every morning for 12 years. As a result he had no arm or leg hair. Donna feigned ignorance when it came to her chronic missing brow pencils. Only on beach days and pool parties did he attempt filling in his naked extremities.
On a particularly average Tuesday afternoon Donna sat by the pool with Esmerelda. She used her six inch cigarette holder as a pointer for her geography lesson. Esmerelda asked “mummy, where did guppy go when he died- did he go to fishy heaven”
“No baby” she said, “mommy flushed him down the toilet. If he’s lucky and made it past the sewers he’ll be eaten by bigger fish in the ocean”
Esmerelda stared at her as she exhaled a stream of smoke and then asked “where’s the ocean?” she flung her hand towards the globe.
That night when Esmerelda told Sally what her mother had said about Guppy something snapped. “What a wretched thing to say” she thought looking over Esmerelda’s shoulder at the pink guitar she had been planning on surprising Esmerelda with that night. “I’m the mommy Esmerelda needs. Esmerelda Stapledin.” Though she cringed at the name she still managed to convince herself it sounded better than Esmerelda Domingo.
Sally stormed off to her sewing basket and ripped open her strawberry shaped pin cushion. She pulled out a glass vial of pure nicotine she had bought on her honeymoon in the streets of Brazil. One drop was enough to “Martar” she remembered the man saying. Slipping the vial into her sleeve she told Esmerelda she could have 7 more pixie sticks if she stayed put.
She marched over to the Domingos and knocked the “friendly neighbor” tap-taptaptaptap-taptap on their door. Donna answered with a pot of freshly brewed Blood Red Rooibos tea. Perfect. Sally stepped inside and sat next to Donna on their floral love seat.
Sally left the teapot on the coffee table to get an extra teacup from the kitchen.
Sally slipped the vial out from her sleeve and emptied it into the teapot. She began sweating and attempted shifting her focus to “The Price is Right” on the television. Donna returned with two glass teacups and she poured them each a cup. Sally couldn’t look at Donna- she started spewing off numbers for the avocado green Oster Blender on the screen and got so caught up in the fact that the contestant had gone over that she didn’t realize Donna had gulped down her entire cup.
She stopped abruptly and stared at Donna who’s eyes got wide as she stared blankly at the screen. Her eyes fluttered as if her lashes were too heavy to continue holding. She licked her lips and poured herself another glass of tea. “Wow, Danny got me the good stuff for once,” she marveled.
Sally stormed back into her house infuriated. She sent Esmerelda home.
That night she returned to the Domingos. She hadn’t come empty handed. Her weapon of choice was the baby pink guitar she’d been saving for Esmerelda. Her head was covered in guitar strings- a disguise she was certain would keep her inconspicuous.
With one wide swing she smashed through Donna’s bedroom window.
Donna popped up out of bed like a jackrabbit – a feat that most certainly would not have been possible had it not been fueled with illegal amounts of nicotine.
“Sally Summers, who do you think you are?” she scoffed.
Sally blindly swung the guitar ever which way, knocking over bottles of perfume and porcelain rabbit figurines.
“Esmerelda. You don’t deserve her! She should be mine,” screamed Sally.
Esmerelda had woken up from the commotion and ran into her parents room screeching.
“Hush hush, now go grab mommy the phone” said Donna as she ducked- narrowly missing one of Sally’s swings.
Donna called 911 and lit a cigarette. “Hi, yes, Sally’s lost her marbles. A total fry, please come retrieve her.” She exhaled a cloud of smoke as she held up a lamp to block a blow. The glass shattered and she said “Really Sally, don’t be such a spaz, it’s not becoming on you.”
Sally, exasperated by Donna’s nonchalance, leaped out of the window. Running through the grass she decided she would escape to Albuquerque. She’d change her name back to the Summer she’d always been have 7 little Summer babies with an Albuquerque local.
In such a daze, Sally walked into the street and got hit by the police car that had come to arrest her. The officer got snagged on one of the guitar strings she’d weaved into her hair as he handcuffed her and she elbowed him in the nose. She ran down the street screaming “You’ll never catch Sally Summers!”
Allas, she was caught. And thrown into jail for assaulting a police officer. Donna visited her every Sunday, even through the 80s. She would sit on the other side of the glass licking her half of the ice-cream cone and blowing smoke through the little holes in the glass to remind Sally what she was missing out on.
Sally had actually found her place in jail and had refused leaving after her 6 months were up. She wore a crown of rusty pocket knifes, went by the name Summer, and secretly enjoyed her Sunday visits with Donna. To this day, they remain the closest of friends.
BY: RUBY JUNE
FOR NYLON MAGAZINE
PROPS: ACME BROOKLYN
HAIR: DENNIS LANNI
STYLING: RUBY JUNE
DONNA DOMINGO: RACHEL TRACHTENBURG
SALLY SUMMERS: RUBY JUNE
ESMERELDA DOMINGO: BETHLEHEM