‘Mandy’s Song’ by Lisa Phipps

sc june 18

Keri glanced at her reflection in the rear-view mirror one more time before leaving her car.  She missed her long, blond hair.  But getting it cut and colored was the easiest way to conceal her identity.  She allowed the shoulder-length curls to fall forward, hiding her face as she climbed the church steps in the cold March wind.  Luckily, the back pew was empty; Keri quickly claimed it to avoid mingling with any overly friendly parishioners.

She was probably vain to think anyone would know her in this remote Montana town.  Her debut single had only been released in September, and the follow-up single had been somewhat of a disappointment.  Still, as the congregation began the opening song, Keri remained silent; she couldn’t risk anyone recognizing her voice.  She had come here to work on her next album in solitude; she did not want to be bombarded by curious fans.

As the song ended, a teenage girl slipped into the pew beside Keri.  So much for avoiding people, Keri thought, moving over a little farther than necessary.  But she needn’t have worried.  The girl seemed as eager as Keri to ostracize herself.  Neither one even acknowledged the other’s presence during mass, except that Keri’s eyes slid sideways just once, drawn by the motion of the girl rubbing her swollen belly, straining against the buttons of a maternity top.

Keri spent the next week secluded in her rented cabin at the end of a desolate, mountain road, trying out melodies on her guitar and scribbling down lyrics.  She didn’t leave her temporary home until church the next Sunday.  She again chose the last pew, and again, the same pregnant girl silently joined her.  The girls continued to ignore each other.  Both left church immediately after mass, ahead of the throng of amiable church-goers.

As April sunshine arrived to melt the lingering snowdrifts, Keri grew confident in her disguise.  On the rare occasions when she ventured to town for groceries, no one paid much attention to her.  This was what she had wanted, but the isolation was taking its toll.  Kerry needed a friend, someone to talk to, someone to share a pizza or go shopping.  Her thoughts kept returning to the pregnant girl.  She seemed lonely and sad.  Maybe she needed someone, too.

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