Once I've finished, I will post it in its entirety.
Please keep in mind that this is an organic novel, so things are subject to change. Especially now, since I'm releasing an unfinished chapter.)
The car's interior was thick with a heavy old-lady smell, like someone had beaten Coco Chanel to death with a tube of Ben-Gay and then buried her body in the quilt that currently covered the vinyl front bench.
“Hi, I’m Esther,” the woman introduced herself, and Teresa stopped listening the moment immediately after that. She’d had talkative cellmates before, and Esther just had that look about her, that I’m going to tell you about my grandchildren whether you like it or not vibe. The trick to dealing with talkative cellies wasn't in getting them to shut up; it was in learning not to listen. Learning not to care.
Given enough cigarettes, Theresa could deal with anything. She absentmindedly began the old, familiar ritual. Open lid. Select cigarette. Place in mouth. Spark lighter. Stop.
Out of the corner of her eye she became aware of the old woman again, looking at her expectantly. The lighter’s flame danced tantalizingly in front of her cigarette, halted just an inch away from ignition.
“You, uh, say something?” she mumbled out of the corner of her mouth. For some reason she felt intensely embarrassed, as if she’d just been scolded by her mother.
“I said, please don’t smoke in my car." Esther's voice was still pleasantly soft, but it had gained a steely undercurrent of Don't test me, child, for I will brook no shit from you that had belonged to mothers since time immemorial. Theresa had even used that tone herself, so many years ago…
"Right. Sorry." She dropped the lighter into her purse and tucked the unlit cigarette behind her right ear, silently cursing at herself for backing down like that. Why had she rolled over so easily?
Give it five minutes, she thought. Then we'll be on the interstate and I can light up, smoke out the window or something. She won't pull over just to kick me out.
It was only then that Theresa realized she had no idea where this Esther person was taking her, or why she'd gotten into the car without asking how the driver knew she'd be on that stoop, the morning of her parole, when she hadn't told a single soul about her release.