A to Z Challenge: Opal

Character sketches that are fictional, but based on real people, like you and me.

Not many people have an Opal in their friend list these days. I didn’t call her that either, because she insisted on being called Paulette, but Opal was indeed her name.

Opal was a little loud, with a laugh that would wake the dead. I encountered her on cleaning days. We worked for the same client and on cleaning days I had to make sure I was not needing to be in the rooms where Opal would start. It was important to be out of her way.

I would hear the door slam, followed by Opal’s screech as she ordered her daughter Shelley to bring in the mop bucket and mop. Shelley always came along because she was somewhat mentally impaired and Opal had no safe place to leave her.

Opal was single, which was not surprising.

Somewhere along the way Opal had become very distrustful of men. As a result she had an independent streak as wide as the ocean. She drove a big van full of power tools and cleaning supplies. She dressed in old T-shirts and coveralls. There was no task so manly that Opal would not try to do it herself. Yard clean-up was her specialty. She could rake, trim bushes and haul debris to the road for pick-up with the best of them.

I had no problem with Opal’s short “man cut” of her own wiry, gray hair but it bothered me that she did it to Shelley too. Just when Shelley’s soft brown curls were getting long enough to look like a hairdo of sorts, Opal would chop them off. It took me a while to realize that this was purposeful. She wanted Shelley to look as unattractive as possible, for her own protection. As I said, she was very distrustful of men.

But Opal had a loyal heart. It was her brash, assuming nature that often had people at odds with her. She would decide to do something she hadn’t been asked to do, with disastrous results. She would offend, and in turn be offended. But after an appropriate length of time, she would patch things up and reappear, as helpful as ever.

Like the time she decided to wash our client’s transport van with the pressure washer… or the windy day she tried to dock her pontoon boat, oh, or the day she set out to trap the raccoons. Yes, that was classic Opal.

Talk (write) to me.

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