What Happened to Beth Vigaszki?
Otherville has been my work in progress for a little over two years now, and it is finally coming together. Through the editing process, my novel has taken on a life of its own and I'm extremely excited to introduce you to some of Otherville's main characters!
What is Otherville, you ask?
Otherville is a place that exists between our world and the afterlife. Some might consider it a purgatory of sorts, but O-ville's residents consider it an unsolvable mystery, a place that holds impossible secrets to the wonders of eternity. How do you get to Otherville?
Just like Beth.
The tubes of her breast pump sagged over the edge of the marbled kitchen counter. Sarah would be there any minute and Beth needed to make sure that her first-born would have plenty to eat while she was out for the day. She opened her fridge to add the two newest bottles of breast milk to the batch. That made six. Hopefully, that would cover Eddie for the next four hours.
“Okay, all of his breast milk is here.” Beth opened the fridge to show Sarah the precise location. “Just put some warm water in this bowl and dunk the bottle of milk into the bowl until the milk is warm enough for Eddie to drink. Not too warm though.”
“Beth,” Sarah laughed. “I am the mom of four boys, all of whom were breastfed. I think I’ve got it.”
“I’m sorry, Sar,” Beth sighed. “I haven’t been away from Eddie since he was born. Not for even a moment. Five months one-on-one with your kid is a long time to just up and leave without a whole lot of mental preparation.”
“It is, but that’s what I’m here for. This is a big opportunity for the shelter. You have to go to this meeting. Eddie will get to hang with his favorite aunt all day. I promise he will still be here, and probably very well-fed from the looks of it, when you get back,” Sarah smiled. “Now, go!”
“Okay, thank you so much. All of his clothing drawers are color-coded. You just need to worry about the green and blue drawers. Green clothes are to replace soiled onesies, blue clothes are for his nap which he will take at 2:30 p.m. He responds really well to humming sounds during naps. He doesn’t like to be rocked in his basinet but he does like to be held. You can rock him a little while you hold him if he’s being a bit fussy. That often works.”
“Beth.” Sarah raised her eyebrows.
“Right. I’m going.” Beth grabbed her keys and her purse.
“Oh! The white drawer is filled with warm clothes, in case he gets cold.”
“Beth, I got this,” Sarah reassured.
Beth arrived in the parking lot of the fifties-style diner with fifteen minutes to spare, which put her on edge. She had planned for thirty minutes of prep time before the meeting began, but fifteen would have to be enough.
The meeting was with a retiring VP of Sales for Johnson and Johnson’s Health and Wellness Solutions sector. The woman had specifically requested to speak with Beth about her potential donation after working alongside Beth at a charity event for the animal shelter last year.
“I was particularly blown away by your passion and zeal for the animals at the shelter. It is clear to me that when you truly believe in something, you are an absolute force,” Ms. Dummell said over lunch. “You are the one who inspired me to make this donation and I want to hear from you how you plan to use the money to make improvements at the shelter.”
Beth slid her purse across the red, leather booth and pulled out the plans she had been working on for the past three weeks. Not only did she include upgrades to the building and facilities surrounding the shelter, but she also built in software upgrades to better track the intake and adoption of the shelter animals.
Beth tried to read how Ms. Dummell was feeling about her presentation, but Ms. Dummell remained stoic as she reviewed the documents.
“As I expected, these are extremely thorough and well-thought-out. How long have you been volunteering at the shelter?” Ms. Dummell asked.
“About five years now,” Beth admitted.
“You know, I originally assumed that you were one of their directors when I first met you. You are so passionate!” Ms. Dummell said. “What do you do?”
“Well, I don’t currently have a job. I was working for an HR recruiting company before I gave birth. I had a complicated pregnancy and was forced to leave my job sooner than I expected. When Eddie was born, I knew I wouldn’t be able to go back to work for a while, so I resigned. Now that I’m a few months out, I started looking again, but the shelter keeps me busy and I can take Eddie with me,” Beth explained.
Ms. Dummell sat thoughtfully, her polished hands folded on the beige table in front of her. After a few moments, her deep red lips curved towards her ears.
“I see. I assume you know that I am retiring from Johnson and Johnson. This donation is a celebration of that retirement. The reason I’m retiring is that my daughter gave birth to a little girl almost two years ago and I barely get to see her. I’m moving to North Carolina so I can be closer to her. I do love my job and the people I work with and I know they are going to be short-staffed in my absence. So, it makes me wonder, given your drive and passion, I think you would make a great fit. How would you feel about a job with Johnson and Johnson’s Health and Wellness Solutions?” she asked.
The question sounded like it was asked during the slow-motion part of an action movie, slow and deliberate so that Beth could savor each individual word. Her immediate reaction was disbelief, then excitement… then guilt.
“That’s a really generous offer. I’m completely blown away by the thought, but I’m not ready to leave my child right now,” Beth replied confidently.
“The job is part-time remote, and part-time in the office. I will make sure that it’s there for you when you are ready to take it. All you have to say is that you want it,” Ms. Dummell reached her hand across the table.
“Will do,” Beth shook Ms. Dummell’s hand.
Beth said her final goodbyes to Ms. Dummell and climbed into her car. She glanced around carefully, being sure that Ms. Dummell had left the parking lot before she let out a scream of excitement. Not only did she have a $100,000 donation for the shelter tucked safely in her purse, but she had also been offered an incredible opportunity with a local company.
Immediately, her brain went into planning mode. Eddie would be six months old soon, so Beth could spend another six months at home until Todd’s mom retires at the end of the year.
An orange construction sign flashed by her passenger-side window, reminding her to slow down as she drove into the construction zone. Left lane ends 1 mile.
Then, Beth could go back to work while Todd’s mom stays home with Eddie on days that Beth goes into the office.
Lane ends 1000 feet.
On the days she worked from home, she would get more precious time with her newborn baby boy. It was perfect.
“What the hell?” Beth gripped her steering wheel hard and tried to maintain control of her car. She caught sight of the candy apple red BMW flying past her after brushing the front-end of her car. She veered hard to the right and hit a pothole.
Eddie’s face flashed before Beth’s eyes…
Her car slammed into the median, forcing her left wheels from the ground.
…the depth of his dimples when he looks into his mama’s eyes...
The car was airborne.
…the coo of his giggle when he was getting tired...
The car was rolling now.
It wouldn’t stop rolling.
Then everything went black.
Want to know what happened to Beth next? Keep an eye out for Otherville!