Sunday, November 18, 2007


View of Seattle from Water Tower, Volunteer Park

This is an excerpt from my novel-in-progress, Ginny Bates. If you are already a familiar reader, skip down to Read More. If not, here's links to background information in the sidebar to the right, third item from top.

Myra's younger brother is Gil.


On January 19, she went to a potluck at Allie's house. Ginny was there, and she called out "Hey, buddy!" When Myra set down her dish and took off the foil, grinning, Ginny said "Oh my god, it's the famous chicken again."

Women were streaming in and out. Myra pulled Ginny out of the traffic zone, into a little corner by the pantry, and leaned her head almost touching Ginny's to whisper "You cut up the chicken yourself and soak it overnight in a bowl of evaporated milk. The next day you roll it in flour to which you've added two tablespoons of corn meal, garlic powder salt, and a tablespoon of cayenne. You fry it slowly and take it out of the oil one minute after it looks golden to you. Drain it on brown paper and let it go back to room temperature before you serve it."

Ginny stayed pressed up against Myra during this whole recitation. When Myra was done and pulled back, Ginny's eyes looked more smudgy, in a way Myra couldn't decipher.

They got plates of food and walked through Allie's flat to find a place to sit. The landing of the stairs was wide and empty, so Ginny sat down next to the wall on the top step. Instead of sitting beside her, Myra sat on the step in front of her, turned to the side so they could have eye contact, Myra's back leaned against the inside of Ginny's leg. Ginny's other leg was curved across Myra's lower lap. Date Myra was nowhere in sight.

Ginny took a bite of pita dipped in tahini, then said "Mmm, you have to try this." She offered Myra a bite, which Myra let Ginny put directly in her mouth. They began feeding each other from both plates. Whoever was not talking gathered up a bite on her fork and waited until a pause, then fed the one who had been taking and took up the thread of the conversation herself. It worked without needing to think about it.

Ginny's shoulders and arms were thin. She widened as she went down, a sort of triangular body, except her breasts were very full. She had on loose drawstring pants without socks, and Myra could see very thick, pale golden leg hair at the bottom of one calf. Her hands were wide and extremely strong looking; one thumbnail was rimmed in aquamarine blue, and the other wrist had a faint smudge of yellow.

"How's the recovery going?" said Ginny.

"Unexpected. Some days it's just work. Some days it's holy. What about you? I see you've been painting."

"Never enough. I'm on a leash, having to work for a living. Is that avocado I see?"

"Here you go. I went back to Texas for the holidays."

"How was it?"

"Oh, I think the only good holidays must be when you're a child and nobody has died yet. LIke that Millay poem, 'Childhood is the Kingdom Where Nobody Dies'. I got to spend some great time with my Aunt Sarah -- my mother's sister -- and my Great-Aunt Lee -- my mother's mother's sister. They relate like mother and daughter, and completely represent that lineage in my family of women who are brilliant, bookish, freedom-loving, and funny as hell. But both of them have serious health issues right now. They're all I have left of Mama."

"Except your brother."

"Except Gil is right. But -- Ginny, I haven't told Gil I won the lottery." When Ginny looked shocked, she explained the roadblocks.

"For some people, giving them money means they'll save themselves" said Myra.

"Like you."

"Mmm. But for some people, it means they'll self-destruct faster."

"Windfall psychology" said Ginny. "When you get a stroke from the blue that makes your life substantially better, within a year you've replaced all the old problems that the windfall erased with a new set. It can be a progression upward or downward."

"Gil has never had a chance. He wasn't planned for. Mama loved him but, right out in the open not as much as me. Because he was a boy, he had to share a room with my older brother."

"You were both little, why couldn't he share a room with you?"

"Mostly I didn't have a room. I often slept in the dining room or living room."

"No wonder you're protective of your privacy."

"Ginny, it astounds me how you never forget anything I say. Where does that ability come from? I mean, I have it, but it's an incest survivor trait -- I can always tell you where all the exits are in a room and which folks in the room are having emotional issues that might erupt, I can read it in a matter of seconds. What's your story?"

Ginny had never thought about it, Myra could tell. Chewing on a carrot, she swallowed and said "I was on my own too much. My sister Cathy is ten years older than me -- like your brother, but she wasn't a predator, she just didn't pay much attention to me. She was gone by the time I was eight. The attention I got from mother was negative, so I tried not to draw it. Daddy was my hero, but he wasn't there enough and he would almost never defend me if Mother was on a tear. Meaning, drunk. So -- I learned to keep track. But that's not all of it, Myra. I don't keep track of people who aren't fascinating to me."

Myra felt her face going red. She let it happen without comment.

"Were you given the job of raising Gil or did you just take it on?"

"Mostly the latter. Mama was overwhelmed. When I was eight, she had a fourth child, another brother, who died within an hour of birth. I've thought for years that he just sussed out the situation, realized he was not going to have enough attention or love to survive, and checked back out. Mama and Daddy never mentioned him, never counted him as one of the children they'd had. I feel like I'm the only one who remembers he came and went."

"Do you write about all this? The poems of yours I've seen, seems like they are about family a lot."

Myra noticed that Ginny had read her poems and wanted to leap into that topic, but modesty restrained her. "I do, more and more. Write what you know, but more than that -- nobody is ever going to know about my kind of people if I don't tell them. What about you -- where do your paintings arise from?"

"A fever that cooks my brain. I see an image in my head, an image full of detail and symbolism, and all I have to do is figure out how to make it go down on a canvas. But I can never paint fast enough, or long enough, to do it all at one go, and then it changes before I'm done. The image is so full of emotion, I can't -- I forget where I am. It's like time travel, because often the feelings have to do with something in my past. I think I lived on hold for a long time, but underneath was all this longing and vision, and when a fissure opens up, that turns into a painting. If that makes sense."

"It does. I really want to see your work sometime."

"Wanna come up to my room and see my etchings?" laughed Ginny. Myra was tickled. She took a sip of tea and gave one to Ginny as she talked.

"I read somewhere that American poetry tends to be elegaic in tone. We tend not to write the kind of political or funny or celebratory poems that other cultures do, we write about something that's been lost. I think it's because we're a nation of exiles. We separated from our homelands and had to act as if it was this great choice, moving here for freedom and new opportunity. Except I think the opposite is mostly true -- we moved here because we had no choices left. For whatever reason, we could not survive in the homeland. I think it's possible that a majority of immigrants were people who were dysfunctional in a particular way. And certainly a big chunk of our population either fled outright slaughter -- like your people -- or were kidnapped and brought here against their will."

"Happy Martin Luther King Day" said Ginny softly.

"And then, even with those of us here now for a generation or two, we can't find a place of safety in our families of origin. We flee to the cities on the coasts and live as exiles there, longing for our families but not able to ever go back home. We make new families together, bands of exiles. Some of them, like the lesbian community, are very satisfying. Some of us love each other as well as people have ever loved each other. But it all began from a place of exile. I think if you don't acknowledge that, and grieve it, you'll never be happy."

"Is that what you're doing -- grieving?" Ginny's face was wide open.

"Some. And some I'm just trying to piece out the next step. Especially about Gil."

Ginny took in a deep breath, then said "When Gil shared a room with your brother -- does that mean he was his"

"He would have been" said Myra, then stopped. After a moment, she said "You remember that cartoon strip 'Little Henry'? That's was Gil looked like, round-headed and solemn. He had tow hair cut in a buzz, so that in some light it looked like he maybe didn't have hair. He has brown eyes just like mine -- "

"Enormous like yours or that milk chocolate color like yours?" asked Ginny.

Myra felt another blush begin. "Both, I guess. And he was so little, such a little guy. I was stick-thin because of my asthma, and weak, but he was so little. And terrified. I did whatever it took to keep him safe." She stopped again, and looked away. She'd gone too far.

Ginny said, very softly "Whatever it took. Did you -- did you offer yourself up in his place, Myra? Did you draw your brother's attention away from Gil?"

Myra felt sick and cold. Ginny took Myra's plate, set it beside her, and pulled Myra up against her chest. "I don't know you all that well, Myra Josong -- "

I'm not sure that's true, thought Myra.

"But I can easily believe you were that brave and smart as a little girl."

"Gil...he saw it all. I think he can't forgive himself. It took me a long time to forgive me. To know it wasn't what I really wanted."

"And until you do, then exile is punishment, what you deserve for being wrong."

Myra pulled reluctantly away from Ginny's warm body so she could look at her. "How did you put that together so fast?"

"Myra...I'm in exile too. I come from a wandering people, and I fled here, too. I want a home, too." They stared at each other, their faces just inches apart.

A woman coming up the stairs stepped on Myra's plate and snapped it in half. She began apologizing profusely. Ginny stood up to clean the mess, saying "I have to pee like a racehorse. Will you save my spot for me?"

"I need to go make a call. But if the spot is still here when I get back, I'll save it. If not, we'll find another spot."

As Ginny walked toward the kitchen and bathroom, Myra went into Allie's bedroom. She closed the door. She still didn't want anyone to know she felt compelled to call home and check for messages when she was out with friends.

There was a message on the machine from her father, asking her to call him right away. Her stomach turned over.

She went back into the living room where Allie was talking with someone on the couch. Ginny walked toward her, and she reached out one hand to link her fingers with Ginny's, palm to palm. Allie noticed the easy intimacy of this gesture. Myra leaned over and asked Allie quietly, "I need to make a long distance call and I can't remember the number I dial to access it from your phone."

Allie told her the number, then said "Are you okay?"

Myra said "Yeah, I'm fine. It's my dad. I won't be long, I don't think" she said to both Allie and Ginny.

Her father answered right away. "Myra, I'm so sorry I have to do this over the phone. Honey....we lost Gil today."

She could not make a sound. Finally she said "What?"

"Gil is dead. They found him on his couch. The examiner said something about his choking on vomit. We don't know more than that for now."

"No. No, no, no, nononononononono." She was whispering it into the phone.

She hadn't heard the door to the bedroom open; maybe she had not shut it this time. Allie kneeled in front of her, saying "Myra? Myra, what's wrong?" Someone sat down on the bed behind her and put two arms around her. Myra finally started screaming.

Allie took the phone away and talked to her father a bit, then said they would call him back. She leaned into Myra, kneeling before her, while the woman behind her held her tight. Allie said to the woman behind her "Her little brother died. Probably suicide." She heard Ginny's voice say, "Oh, mother of god, no. Gil?"

Allie slept with her that night, waking up every so often to check on her. Myra later had no memory of that night, of how the party ended or whether she had talked with Ginny again. The next day Allie flew back to Texas with Myra. At the motel that night, Myra couldn't stay asleep. Whenever she found a way to turn off her brain and drop into nothingness, in half an hour she'd jerk awake with a sense of horror. It would take her a few seconds to remember what was wrong, and then it would be like she was hearing the news all over again.

Allie got up with her and sat propped against the headboard on pillows.

"My family is going to think you're my lover" said Myra.

"Let 'em. It would be an honor" said Allie.

"Allie, these people are the kind of racists who -- who join the Klan. They're evil. If you want to stay here, I'll come get you afterward."

"First of all, you are not safe to drive right now. Second, I know all about that kind of evil. Any black child who grew up in Franklin County, Alabama does."

"Well, I give you complete permission to do anything you want to any of them. Don't hold back on my account."

"I wouldn't have, but it's nice to know."

Allie lay back down after a while and went to sleep. Myra turned off the light and listened to her breathing. She dropped off at dawn, with the promise of sun. They got up two hours later to dress for the funeral.

Her father had hired a Baptist preacher who had never even met Gil. Like all Baptist preachers at a gathering of people, his primary goal was to convert, i.e., browbeat those present into accepting Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Myra saw cousins she had not seen since her mother died. But ringed around the canopy, in ill-fitting and cheap dress-up clothes, were over a hundred young people, mostly scruffy guys with long hair, who were clearly Gil's friends. Over a hundred. She stared at them, and they stared back at her.

She had asked for the chance to say a few words. When Brother Dee nodded at her, she stood up and leaned heavily on the podium for support. One thing she could do was write. It was time to unlock the words.

She spilled the beans. She named names. She did it with elegant, spiraling prose, and she nailed the door shut after her. Then she turned and put a hand on Gil's coffin, and she said the kaddish.

She was actually surprised Brother Dee let her finish. Probably something to do with that Fundamentalist worship of the Israelites even as they hated Jews. When she sat back down, Brother Dee went into a sermon which wound up with him standing in front of Myra, almost foaming at the mouth, ranting at her. She could feel the iron muscles in Allie's leg pushed up against her. She was completely unafraid of Brother Dee, or anybody else there, but Brother Dee had oughta be afraid of Allie.

In the end, he gave up and walked back to the front to lead them in an interminable prayer. After the funeral was over, a line formed to shake hands with the immediate family. But, in fact, it was two lines. One line were all the Baptists going to shake the hands of Myra's father and older brother. The other line were the hippies and druggies, lining up to shake Myra's hand and then Allie's. Every one of them bent down and thanked her, with choked voices, for telling the truth. Several of them smelled of weed. One young woman wept and couldn't get out a word. But most of them told her that Gil had talked about her all the time.

There were two separate wakes, one at a blues bar hosted by Gil's friends, one at her father's house. Instead of going to either, she and Allie drove to visit her Aunt Sarah and Aunt Lee, who had been unable to attend the funeral because they were in different stages of congestive heart failure.

Aunt Sarah was hooked up to an oxygen tank. She was shockingly smaller than she had been the last time Myra saw her. Aunt Lee was in a wheelchair. Myra brought kolaches and sat between them, holding both their hands. She let them read a copy of her eulogy. They wept and cheered and talked about everybody in the family who had passed on. Aunt Sarah's youngest daughter had converted to Judaism, and she asked if she could keep the eulogy to show that branch of the family. Myra gave it to her gladly.

They stayed until dinnertime, when the attendant Myra had hired came to feed the old ladies. Myra didn't want to leave; she was afraid she'd never see them again. She kissed them over and over, promising to call and write, which she did already, at least once a week. When she and Allie got down the road a ways, she finally gave in to the grief. It was caustic, the kind that burns you coming out. The long jag of crying left her eyes bloodshot and her lips swollen. And the shitty part was, she knew the grief would be right back tomorrow, only imperceptibly diminished by this bloodletting. Still, this was how you did it -- siphon off what you could and have faith that eventually, the weight would drop.

They flew back to Seattle instead of staying another night, Myra shelling out for last minute first-class tickets on the red-eye. Allie watched her sign the credit card slip and said "How much money you got in your account right now?"

"I have no idea."

Allie didn't say anything. They'd already had this discussion.

Once they were on the plane, Allie turned to her and said "I'm scared for you. I'm scared this might be the final straw. You may go crazy. I want you to know, if you do, I won't let them lock you up. I'll round up everybody we know and we'll sit with you, look after you, until you're okay again."

That helped more than anything else had so far. It was magical, hearing her fear spoken out loud. She did not, in fact, go crazy. But because she had permission and succour if she did, she dove instead into the grief headfirst. Every scar she had was reopened and scrubbed out. Leesa moved her up to three times a week sessions, and recommended a different group for her, full of the walking wounded like she was. She offered drugs, but when Myra said no, she never pushed it again.

Allie took her out to action movies, loud and violent, and they laughed like maniacs through all the goriest scenes. She did not see anyone but her closest friends. Leesa had given her a daily to-do list: Sleep eight hours. Eat vegetables. Write one paragraph of something. This was what she could manage.

She thought she should maybe send Ginny a thank-you card for the night Gil had died, but didn't know how to word it. She wrote her daily paragraph, but no poetry came for a month, two months. When it finally did, it was bad, maudlin, jerky. She kept at it.

In April, she decided to visit her old friend Kate in Portland for Passover. She took the Coast Starlight; she was still tending to cry at unexpected moments when she drove a car. The train left at 10 in the morning. The night before, she remembered she was supposed to take Chinese herbs her acupuncturist had given her every morning at 10:30. These herbs had to be boiled in a clay pot and drunk hot. She decided to boil them that morning before she left, put the tea in a thermos, and drink it after she got on the train.

She bought a regular ticket and found a window seat near the front of a car, with lots of leg room. The car wasn't full, which was good -- she really didn't want to sit next to anybody. But as she was standing up to get something out of her pack, she saw a thin white guy wearing a suit get on the car and begin looking for a seat. The only places left on the car were next to other men. With a sense of foreboding, she sat back down quickly, refusing to make eye contact with him. Men can't stand to sit with other men they don't know. Well, for that matter, women feel the same way about men.

Sure enough, he plopped down next to her, bright-faced and chatty. She said hello briefly and opened her book. It didn't even slow him down. Without looking at him or giving him any encouragement, she proceeded to hear more about his reasons for visiting Portland than probably his fucking girlfriend knew.

Once the train was rolling, she pulled her stainless steel thermos out from under her seat. The tea brewed by these herbs came out black and a little viscous. She'd gotten used to the smell, but the first time Allie had come over and gotten a whiff, she'd immediately declared "Outhouse! One holer!"

As she unscrewed the lid, he said "Coffee?" As if maybe she'd offer him some. "No" she said shortly, "herbal tea. I'm working through some serious grief issues." That shut him up for a second. When the turbid, dark liquid appeared in her cup, and the odor reached him, he actually put his hand over his mouth. She took a long drink, smacking her lips. He stood up without a word, got his briefcase and bolted through the connector into the next car.

After finishing her tea, which she appreciated in a new way, she got out her notebook. She'd been re-approaching the same opening stanza for a week. The motion of the train was an eight-count, jolting her bones. The rhythm jelled the opening line in her mind. She realized an eight-footed line was how she tended to speak in normal conversation. She rewrote the entire poem in this meter. The gates opened. She began writing in a completely new way. She began writing torrents, and all of it was good.

After she got back from Portland, she went to Alveisa and asked about getting a loan against her future lottery payouts. When she told Alveisa she wanted half a million dollars, Alveisa argued with her vehemently, not just in the office but also calling her later at home and leaving two messages. Still, she got Myra the loan, to be paid back over ten years. Once Myra got the cashier's check for the money, she mailed it to her father. Then she changed her phone number to an unlisted one, and spent a day calling friends to tell them the new number. She got Ginny's machine and, wise to its itty-bitty tape, left the number first. Then she said "I'm okay. I miss you."

That night, she called Aunt Lee's house. The hired help answered. When she asked for Aunt Lee, the woman paused, then said "Honey...she died a week ago. I can't believe nobody notified you. I'm here helping pack up her things."

Myra said she had to go and hung up. After walking around her house screaming and pounding the walls, she called back and got the same woman. She asked for Aunt Sarah.

There was another pause. Myra sat down quickly. "She had a stroke and is in the ICU. I think she had the stroke because of losing Aunt Lee; they were so close, you know."

Myra got the information about where Aunt Sarah was and called the airlines to book a flight. Then she called Sarah's daughter Lolly, the cousin who was closest to her. Her cousin said "I didn't have your number, I couldn't find it in Mama's book, so I called your dad to tell him about Aunt Lee and the funeral. Oh, god, Myra, I'm so sorry, I had no idea he hasn't told you -- he said he would. I just thought you couldn't make it back. Mama couldn't go the funeral, she had her stroke right before it."

Myra gave her the new number and told her she'd be in the next day, to let Aunt Sarah know. Lolly said "I don't think it will register, but I'll tell her. It will be good to see you."

Then Myra called Allie and screamed, just screamed. Allie said it was okay to call her father and unload on him, she had nothing to lose. Myra was sure this was revenge for her eulogy. Aunt Sarah and Aunt Lee were from her mother's line.

Myra finally decided she would just show up at her father's and scream at him in person. She packed a bag and started for bed, then sat down at her desk and began writing instead.

At midnight, the phone rang. She had the sudden thought that maybe it was Ginny, somehow just now getting her message. Instead it was Lolly, weeping, saying that Aunt Sarah had died. She had not had a chance to tell her that Myra was coming. She had coded around 9 p.m., and since they had a DNR order on her, she died quickly.

Myra called Leesa, waking her up and saying it was an emergency. Leesa listened to her for a while, then said "Are you suicidal?"

"No. I just don't know what to do."

"You are a lot stronger than you know you are. If you can't sleep tonight, drink some milk and watch a funny movie. Come in tomorrow at 9:00, we'll work then."

This was profoundly reassuring. If Leesa wasn't worried about her, she must be okay. And what else could happen? The only family she cared about was now gone. She was cast loose. She suddenly remembered a quote from Andre Gide: "One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time."

She made herself a vanilla milkshake from scratch and turned on the brand-new VHS player Allie had persuaded her to buy. She had no idea how to program it to tape TV, but she'd bought several movies to play in it. She pulled out "Please Don't Eat The Daisies" and stuck it in.

The next morning she sent flowers to Aunt Lee's family as well as Aunt Sarah's daughters before she went off to see Leesa. At her therapy, she really knew how to get right to the loss and rage now, almost as soon as she sat down. She made the most of her hour and left feeling like maybe she could sleep. She went home and slept the rest of the day. She had turned off her phone. When she got up, she had a message from Ginny that said simply "I miss you too."

The next day, a reactor at Chernobyl blew up. After she read the newspaper article, she sat in her car and cried for a while. Then she bought dried nori for herself and her friends at Rainbow and began adding it to everything she ate, to keep her body replete with iodine. There wasn't anything she knew to do about the cesium.

In her therapy sessions, as well as sometimes in her poetry, she kept coming back to the vow she'd made last year, to clean things up "whatever it takes". When Leesa had asked her what she meant by that, she'd said "Or die trying." She realized she could stop being haunted by death; it had shot its wad.

For years she had loved a T-shirt she bought in a fag store that read, in very small print above the pocket, "Life is hard. Then you die." The next time she saw Allie, Allie handed her a present. It was a new T-shirt that Allie had silk-screened with "Life is hard. Then everybody you ever fucking loved dies."

Myra had to sit down on the floor, she laughed so hard. Allie kept thumping her on the back and saying "I knew you'd like it." Then she said "Sima and Chris were appalled -- they came over and saw me working on it, and told me I could not give it to you. But when I showed it to Ginny, she said 'Perfect', so I knew it wasn't just me."

"How is Ginny?"

"Ready for school to be over. The only time she can paint the way she wants to and needs to is in the summers. And last summer she had to go to training for part of it. She looks like she's chomping at the bit. She asks about you every time I see her."

"I want to see her. But I'm kinda single-minded these days." She pulled off her shirt and put on the new T-shirt. She wore it almost daily after that. It made her laugh every morning.

A month later, at group, she was talking about her difficulty having a relationship with god when death was this capricious thing roaming around loose. She said "I mean, what if I get hit with something I can't handle? What if I go down like Gil did?"

Another dyke in the group laughed out loud. When Myra looked at her, she said "I would like to see something you can't handle. And the fact is, Myra, you're a lot stronger than Gil was. That's why you're alive and he's not, it's just that simple."

Myra was furious at her for saying that. She managed not to yell at her, but left the group as soon as it was over so she wouldn't have to talk with this woman. She went to Volunteer and climbed the tower, her cure-all for perspective. This time of day on a Wednesday, it wasn't completely overrun with tourists.

She began composing an argument against what the woman had said. Maybe she could turn it into a poem. But every argument and line led her back to having to say that she was not strong in some way. She couldn't hack that. Finally she put her hands on the railing and said out into the air "Fuck me running. She's right. I am stronger than Gil was."

She did go home and write a poem, but a very different poem. She went to sleep and slept eight hours. She got up and ate some yogurt with raspberries and put in the Doris Day movie again, fast-forwarding it to the scene where Doris talked about her youngest son, a baby named Adam, who could pick locks -- any lock. It always cracked her up. After breakfast, she went back to writing and wrote all day.

That evening she went to a fundraiser on Capitol Hill for the local women's shelter. She gave them a huge check and didn't wait around to be thanked, scurrying over to the refreshment table. As she came around the corner, there was Ginny.

Myra felt a jolt, seeing her. She waited for the grief of that night, the last time she had seen her, to wash over her, but it didn't come. Ginny had on copper-colored velvet pants and a striped long-sleeved silk blouse in rich earth tones. Her wide ass looked even wider in the pants. Her thin arms and narrow shoulders looked skinnier because of the colors and cling of the shirt.

As Myra stood there, Ginny glanced around and saw her. She set down her cup and walked straight over. She looked like 3-D coming right at Myra.

"I hear from Allie that you are moving mountains. Is that accurate?" This was Ginny, right to the chase.

"Yes. It's fish or cut bait."

Ginny laughed, loud. It was good to hear; so many of her friends felt like they couldn't laugh around her right now. Then Ginny stepped over and gave her a big hug, one where their hips touched. She smelled incredibly good. Her hair was still buzzy short.

"Nice threads" said Myra.

"Thanks. It's my compromise for work drag -- I focus on the colors and ignore the cut. Thank god, today was my last day for the summer."

"Painterland, here you come, eh?"

"You said it, sister. How's the poetry?"

"Stupendous. We really should share with each other sometime."

"Up to you" said Ginny, without any kind of a snarky note.

They found a place to sit down and talked for an hour. Myra told her about the revelation she'd had on the tower the day before. Ginny told her about something she'd figured out in Al Anon recently. Myra felt like all her chakras was wide open -- if there really was such a thing as chakras, she still wasn't sure.

Finally Ginny stood up and said she was hungry, she'd come here right after work and she was going to walk to Aux Delice, a little Vietnamese place nearby, for dinner. She did not ask Myra to go with her. Myra just stood there, silent. Ginny gave her a full-body hug before walking out.

Myra waited part of a minute. She flipped through a mental rolodex and came up with nothing; no clue about what to do. But her feet started moving toward the door, and she followed.

Ginny was half a block away, her voluptuous bottom sheathed in coppery velvet. Myra yelled, "Hey" and Ginny turned around. Myra reached her fast. "I'm hungry, too. Can I come with?"

Ginny paused long enough to make Myra sweat, but there was no game in her eyes as she stared into Myra's. Then she said "Okay" and they went on walking together.

After they crossed one intersection, Myra slowed down a little. Ginny matched her stride. Myra didn't know what she was going to say until she started saying it.

"I have not been able to forget about you. This entire year. I haven't known what that means -- haven't had room to know. I had a lot to do. Thanks for giving me so much room. No one has ever done that quite so blamelessly."

"You're welcome."

"I'm so changed, it's like I got replaced by a pod. I mean, some core of me is the same -- "

"Thank god, I kinda liked you before you were a pod" grinned Ginny.

"I seem to be in really good shape."

"You look like it."

"I'm ready now, Ginny. I want to move forward with you. I hope that's not too self-centered of me to say. I haven't ever done this before."

"I know. I want to move forward with you, too, Myra."

"I mean, I know I got a lot more to do. But whatever it is, I'll do it. For myself. I can't stand living without who I was born to be. But here's the thing, Ginny." Myra waited a second for fear drop into her bloodstream; it did not come. "I want to be more than your friend."

Ginny reached out her left hand and took Myra's right hand gently in her own. Still walking. They were halfway down the block.

Myra knew, then. Knew whatever this was, it went both ways. This was as much as she was ever going to have. When god knocks at your door, she does it very softly; if you've got the TV on, you won't hear it.

Okay, that was enough. In fact, it was glorious. It was so easy to walk hand in hand with Ginny. They both had wide asses, but their rhythm was in sync.

(Ginny and Myra's Seattle map)

Copyright 2007 Maggie Jochild.

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