Character Friday – Meet Shelley Parkinson

I’m Michelle Parkinson, although my friends call me Shelley.  Until recently, I didn’t really have any friends, at least not anymore.  I had a best friend from childhood named Lori Miller.  She stayed around the longest, but in the end, I pushed her away like everyone else.  I had a good life.  You wouldn’t know it by looking at me now.  I live out of my car and am basically homeless.  It’s not that I didn’t have money.  I have quite a sum left to me from my late husband’s life insurance policy.  I used to be the woman who lived in the big, fancy house and entertained every weekend.  My hair was long and blonde (dyed).  I wore expensive clothes and makeup.  At five feet, nine inches and slender, I was attractive.  People never could get over how dark my eyes were for such a fair complexion.  I loved the attention.  At least that’s what I told myself.  I didn’t need to work because my husband, Aaron, had it all.

Everything changed in an instant in May of 2017 when Aaron died.  That’s awful, right?  Losing a spouse is bad enough as it is, but the circumstances of his death weren’t natural.  Aaron had been a successful businessmen.  We’d seemed so happy, but that all changed in an instant when the horrible truth was revealed about my husband upon his death.

Why me, Aaron?  I never really wanted all of this.  I was 33 when you died, Aaron.

Alone in my grief, I began to sit at a picnic table at the nearby rest area.  I’d drive my car there every night at 3:14 AM and stay as long as possible.  I’d drive around for a few hours, find somewhere to park and sleep.  But I forced myself to stay awake and just be at one with my suffering for hours on end.

Until people started to notice me.  First it was the janitor at the rest area — an older man named Mike Popkins.  He started sharing a cigarette with me during his breaks and just talking to me.  I mostly just listened at first.  He’d lost his wife and had a distant relationship with his only son.

Then there was Sarah Wilcox.  She was sweet, young, and pretty.  She brought me coffee.  She worked at the coffee place at the rest area and paid for a cup for me every day.  She just smiled at me and first and passed off the cup, but then she started sitting with me on her break.  Again, she did most of the talking at first.  She was just trying to figure out her life, but her wide-eyed wonder at all that life had to store brought me hope.

And finally, there was trucker Russ Jacobs.  He nearly ran me over with his truck during a snowstorm, but he was kind enough to give me shelter from the storm by inviting me into his truck.  I’d been unsettled.  He was gruff but gentle.  He said he passed through here often.  He started looking for me.  He always he had long breaks.  We started talking, sitting inside over burgers and fries. 

But few people know my full story, even Russ.  He doesn’t know how Aaron died, and I don’t know how to tell him.  Do I risk loving again or remain secluded in my grief?

That’s my unfinished story…

Shelley Parkinson is the character who the protagonists, Mike Popkins, Sarah Wilcox, and Russ Jacobs, revolve around in my unfinished story, Mile Marker 139.

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Also, check out my novel, Hannah’s Rainbow: Every Color Beautiful, now available for only $2.99 on Amazon: Hannah’s Rainbow: Every Color Beautiful


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