The Chronicles of Linda Dawson
Linda worked everyday in the bank, standing behind her teller window. She wore gray wool skirts with white sweaters and black low-heeled shoes. She had worked at the bank for over twenty-five years. She had a habit of chronicling her life in a journal. She’d been doing this since she received a diary for her tenth birthday, rarely missing a day of writing. Moon phases, flowers that had bloomed in her yard, customers who had come to her teller window that day, what she’d had for lunch, lists of the mysteries and criminal thrillers she read - these are the things that Linda’s journal contained.
In February, Linda’s journal told of the seventeen days South Bend, Indiana had gone without sunshine. The weather had been as gray as Linda’s skirt, as gray as her house cat. Her pale blue eyes had taken on a grayness behind the metal frames of her glasses. Linda ate lunch in the break room of the bank, flipping through a Travel & Leisure magazine someone had left. In the magazine was a four page article about tropical getaways. Linda stared at pictures of azure skies and seas, waves crested with white foam, sand, palm trees and sunshine. The people in the pictures were soaking in the sun, their tan bodies looked warm and relaxed. Linda folded the magazine and threw the remains of her lunch in the trash can. She smoothed her gray skirt and adjusted her glasses on her slim nose, then took her place again behind her teller window.
On the twenty-second day with no sunshine in South Bend, Indiana Linda Dawson was still thinking about those pictures of the tropical places. That evening she balanced her drawer as she always did, carefully and quickly. But this time it didn’t balance. She was off by $5362. She knew why she was off. A new customer had come in to deposit this amount in his account. The money was in cash. She had done the deposit but for some reason it hadn’t registered in the computer and the customer left without the receipt.
Linda counted out the $5362 in cash. The drawer balanced without this money. Normally she would go back in to fix the error. She would call her boss over to help her with this. Linda looked up at the other tellers. They were all busy counting and recounting. Her face felt flush and she dabbed at her forehead with her fingertips. She slipped the cash into the pocket of her white, cardigan sweater, pushed her glasses up on her slim nose and smoothed her dull brown hair, making sure it was all tucked under the thin metal headband that held it back from her face. Linda closed her teller drawer and finished her paperwork.
Three days later Linda Dawson was laying on a beach in the Bahamas, her hair in tight cornrow braids done by a local girl. Sand clung to her feet and legs. A trickle of sweat ran down her back. Soon she would walk into the ocean water, letting the waves wash over her, cooling off her bronzed skin. For now she held a hollowed out pineapple and sipped the sweet drink. Her eyes had taken on the deep blue of the ocean and sky. Although she had packed her diary, it remained in the bottom of her suitcase. The last entry read, “Took the money and ran. Now I will live.”