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Why people wanted to live out in the woods was a mystery to Mitsy McDonnell. She made good money selling remote homes to people who thought they wanted to ditch civilization. Later, she made even better money reselling those homes when they realized an hour to get to the grocery store was about 45 minutes too long. She kept her own opinions to herself in both cases. Yes, the woods were peaceful (boring) and the scenery was to die for (a fire hazard), and it would be so wonderful to sit on this porch and have a glass of wine in the evening (while the bugs flew into your glass and raised red welts across your face.) Oh, yes, it was a wonderful home but being so far from the (insert modern convenience) was troublesome, and of course, she’d be happy to list it for them.

Mitsy was 5’1” of real estate juggernaut. She wore heels that added two inches, and her chrome-blonde dyed hair was piled up another three inches on a good day, two if she was in a rush. She didn’t go for this new casual style either, where your agent could roll up in their going-out pajamas and show you around a messy home as if everyone involved had overslept. Her homes were staged as immaculately as she was. Today she was in a black sheath dress that “slimmed” her 40-something figure, and a jacket in a wild black and white optical print. Her shoes were her latest favorites, a seriously dark pair with heels like ice picks. The homeowners were young tech types, and she’d go for any edge she could, even a sharp heel on a shoe.

Mitsy’s dark blue SUV was clean and roomy, and she punched the address into her dash-mounted GPS. The property was almost two hours away. Far, even for her, but she had plenty of time. Mitsy was never late. NEVER. She put some talk radio on low volume, slipped big round sunglasses over her eyes, and hit the road.

At the halfway point, Mitsy needed to get out and stretch her legs. All those years of high heels meant she had a little issue with her back, and a bigger issue with her calves, and an even bigger issue with her arches, and she couldn’t drive straight through for hours anymore. A convenience store on her right had one black sedan parked in front, ruining its “rural casualty” first impression. Must still be open. The door jangled when she pushed it. There were no other customers in sight, but a bathroom said “Occupied.” Mitsy grabbed a pricey bottled water and a package of mints. The man behind the counter was enormous, at least 6’3”. Mitsy had to crane her neck to see his head from her miniature frame. He was white, with a blonde crewcut and a chin cleft deeply enough to hide a dime. He was in a white dress shirt and suit pants, with a much too small apron dangling off his neck. His name tag read “Hakeem.”

“Will that be everything?” he rumbled, fumbling the items around to find the barcodes. Mitsy already had her card out and was about to confirm when her eye lit on the display next to the card reader. It was, of all things, a cardboard stand with one lonely pair of false eyelashes in a crystal clear case. “Rare Earth Eyes” was splashed across the cardboard in pink and black polka-dotted font. They were “Earth’s Best Magnetic Lashes!” and guaranteed to stay on in a hurricane. They were thick lashes, and came with everything required, and Mitsy suddenly needed magnetic eyelashes very badly.

“These, too,” she said, and took the lashes off the display. “Hakeem” quickly snagged them out of her hand and put them in a thick brown paper bag with the water and mints. She ran her card and accepted the bag from him with a reflexive “thanks.” He’d been kind of weird and rude, but it didn’t cost a cent to be polite.

Mitsy was excited to try the new lashes, and she had time to put them on right in the car. She loved cutting edge makeup things. She took out the tube of magnetic eyeliner and opened it. It had a strong chemical smell, but that would surely fade. With her eyes three inches from the visor mirror, she applied thick lines on both eyelids, as close to her natural lashes as possible. Her skin stung a little, and she had to quickly catch a few tears in a tissue to avoid smearing the rest of her face. The directions said to let it dry for ten minutes, but she didn’t want to chance being late because of her inability to wait. She carefully plucked one of the lash strips from the package and moved it toward her face.

SLAP! The lash strip flew out of her hand and adhered to the eyeliner with an audible smack. Startled, she squeaked a little and blinked rapidly. More tears in a tissue, and she looked to see what the result was. Her mouth fell open in surprise—they were gorgeous and perfectly aligned. She turned her head this way and that, admiring. The second lash went on a little more gently using a two-handed grip. She fluttered the lashes at herself and smiled. Totally worth the $12.99 impulse purchase. She changed the radio over to a rock and roll oldies station and pulled back onto the road.

Ten minutes later, she wanted to call her clients and let them know her arrival estimate. She grabbed her phone from the console, a no-no, she knew, but she’d been driving with a phone attached to her face for 20 years. She found the number and punched it. The normal sounds of a cell phone dialing went haywire as she held it to her ear. An ear-splitting shriek drove directly in behind her eyes, forcing them closed. She threw the phone across the car as she struggled to maintain her lane. She steered her SUV into a driveway, barely missing the mailbox, and tried to calm her breathing. She got out and went around to the passenger side. Her phone fell out on the gravel when she opened the door. It was dead, and a crack split the screen diagonally. No amount of cursing or button mashing convinced it to resurrect itself.

She tossed it in the seat and got back in the driver’s side. Her GPS was fine, and she didn’t really need to call them, she was still on time. She leaned in to look at the GPS map, checking the arrival time, and it went blank for a second. She leaned away, blinking, her stomach flipping. She really would be lost if the GPS gave it up. It blinked back on and she let out a relieved breath. It was back to the start screen, though, she’d have to put the address in again. Poke, poke, poke, poke….done.

“Turn left on Truman Street,” the GPS lady said. That was back the way she’d come from? Mitsy double-checked the address, that was right, but the route was different and the arrival time was 20 minutes later. Crap. She must have made a wrong turn without realizing it. She’d have to speed now to make it on time, and she couldn’t call to tell them she was late. She whipped around onto the road and sped down the revised route. The little store had a “Closed” sign up though the black sedan was still there.

Rural roads weren’t heavily patrolled, and she made it in good time, pulling onto the unmarked driveway ten minutes early. It was weird that it wasn’t marked at all, she’d have to talk to the homeowners about that before they did any showings. About a quarter mile down the driveway, there was a gate across the road, part of a substantial and ugly security fencing situation. It was closed. Mitsy hopped out and went to the latch, thinking the least they could have done was leave it open. There was a giant industrial padlock on the latch, and the hasp was securely shut. Swearing at it didn’t have any miraculous effects either. Her curses were particularly ineffective today. No call button was evident, though she could see a camera in the tree above the fence. She waved at the camera, but there was no way they were going to unlock that padlock remotely.

Looking at the gate, a steel beam type, she decided she could climb it. She grabbed her briefcase, checked her phone (still useless), and hiked up her dress. She shoved her heels through a gap in the metal near the hinges. If the homeowners had any doubt about her commitment to sell their real estate, this little show would erase it. Mitsy was fit for her age, despite a little fuller figure, and managed to get up and over the fence without falling or tearing her dress. She rearranged herself and put her shoes on, mad that she had to hike in heels that were meant for show, not go.

There were cameras all the way up the drive, and some other poles hooked to wires on either side. A metal plate in the middle of the road looked unsafe for her heels, so she bypassed it, but a rubberized mat a few feet later was unavoidable. The house was ahead, just visible around the bend. The front was plain and looked much smaller than the homeowners had indicated. Mitsy started to wonder if she had the right place after all, but maybe they’d have a phone she could use to let her potential clients know she’d gotten lost. She had to watch her step across the rubber, her pointy heels sucked into the surface and resisted each new step. She was staring at the ground and placing her shoe carefully when a sound in front of her necessitated an immediate and drastic priority change.

KA-CHUNKKA. The sound of a shotgun racking a round was the most movement-arresting thing Mitsy had ever heard. She put both her hands out to her sides with her fingers splayed, instinctively showing her harmlessness to the owner of the property she realized she was trespassing on. Slowly, she raised her face and saw an ordinary looking man, a little thin and possibly a few years younger than Mitsy, pointing the shotgun directly at her. He was wearing tactical type clothes, heavy pants with pockets and a jacket with more pockets, and a construction helmet covered in some sort of shiny metallic paint.

“I don’t know what you are,” he growled, “but I’m willing to blow your ass back to whatever lab you crawled out of if you move another inch.”

Copyright 2019© by Rebecka Ratcliffe, All Rights Reserved

The Story: This little adventure was inspired by a suggestion from Joshua M. Anderson via Facebook. What about the perils of magnetic eyeliner? Well, we are going to find out about the perils of magnetic eyeliner and lashes in three parts. This is especially exciting for me because I haven’t written the other two yet. We are living on all the edges. I’ll try to get them out a little closer together to keep it from taking over a month to find out what happens to Mitsy.

As a side note, I adore Mitsy McDonnell. I have known a few real estate agents, and as a group, they are resilient and relentlessly positive, even if the house they’re showing has jars of dead fish on the porch (yes, really). After we see what happens here, she may come back around to hang out in something else.

PS. If you are listening, don’t forget to listen to the credits. Marvel ain’t got nothin’ on me.