Thursday, November 29, 2007


("Lena in Paris", mixed media collage of vintage paint by number with photograph of Lena Straus Spiegel in 1906, grandmother to Liza Cowan, created by Liza Cowan, copyright 2007)

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.

June 1987

Myra came home from lunch with Allie to find Ginny sitting at Myra's desk, talking on the phone with Patty. Myra motioned for Ginny to move to the daybed, but Ginny ignored her; the conversation seemed rather serious. A little irritated, Myra stripped off her clothes and dived in the pool, doing hard laps until her muscles loosened. Then she drifted in the middle of the pool, floating effortlessly on her back in the way fat people can, her eyes closed, her ears full of water.

She jumped and went under, sucking in a little wash, when Ginny tossed a beach ball onto her belly. She came back up coughing and thrashed to the side. Ginny sat down on the deck next to the pool, and when Myra could talk, she said "Why the fuck did you do that?"

"I was calling your name but you didn't hear me" said Ginny, not at all apologetic. She had a piece of paper in her hand.

Myra blew her nose into the pool, knowing it would chap Ginny, then said "Patty okay?"

"She's still throwing up every morning, and it's starting to wear her down. Plus Pat is changing her mind about how they're going to handle things when the baby comes."

"How so?" asked Myra.

"Well, she's due in November, and she wanted to take off the fall semester as well as the spring. But Pat doesn't think they can afford it -- if they do that, they won't be able to buy a new car. Not unless Pat takes only a week after the baby is born, then goes back to full-time. Which is what she'd rather do, because she's still on probation at Microsoft and that's her dream job, she says."

Myra thought of several things to say in reply, all of them along the lines of how much Pat and Patty were snared in the heterosexual model, and decided to just nod sympathetically.

Ginny was ready to change the subject. She held up the piece of paper and said "This is about my dad. About both my parents, but the part about my dad is harsh, Myra."

Myra wiped water out of her eyes so she could focus on the paper. It was a poem she'd written the night before and left on her desk. She stared at Ginny.

"What are you doing reading my writing without my permission?" she demanded.

"It was just lying there, beside the phone. Myra, if you get this published, he'll read it eventually. I think my family should be off limits for your poetry."

Myra pushed away from the side of the pool, swam to the steps, and climbed out, taking deep breaths. She walked over to Ginny, now with the height advantage, and said "Give me my poem."

After a second, Ginny handed it to her, but she said "You just met them for the first time, and this is what you write?"

"I write what comes up in me to write, Ginny. I have no censors. If I did, I wouldn't be able to write at all" said Myra. She was furious, Ginny abruptly realized.

"I'm sorry I didn't ask you if I could read it" began Ginny.

"Fucking well better be" said Myra. "I don't violate your artistic boundaries, do I?"

"Okay" said Ginny, getting to her feet. "I won't do it again."

Myra was still taking deep breaths.

"But I need you not to publish that poem" said Ginny, trying to smile.

"Do you really want us to have veto power over the art the other one is producing?" said Myra. There was no threat in her tone, but she didn't need to threaten. "'Cause it'll have to go both ways, you know."

Ginny was absolutely not going to let anybody tell her what she could paint. Stymied, she tried another tack.

"He's your father-in-law, Myra. If that goes into print, it's a permanent statement about him. Think about the long-term effect it will have on your relationship with my family."

"Did I say anything that you think is untrue?" asked Myra, level and icy.

Ginny paused. "No. But the truth can hurt worse than lies."

"Especially to those who've built an existence based on denial" said Myra. "I'm an artist first, Ginny. I'll never violate your trust, I will make that exception. But the reality of your family -- that's for you and them to work out. I'm not covering for them."

She turned and walked into the house. Through the glass wall, Ginny saw her pick up her notebook and put it, with the poem, into the drawer that would lock, then turn the key and leave her study. She suddenly went from being mad to being scared.

"Well, shit" she said out loud. Juju at her feet looked instantly guilty. Ginny didn't want to go back into the house, not yet. She looked at the pool, pulled off her shirt, and jumped in. Juju, fearing a bath, ran for the house.

After Ginny stopped being scared, she went looking for Myra, who was vacuuming their bedroom. Ginny grabbed a towel from the bathroom, wrapped it around her, and went to Myra, putting her hand on Myra's arm.

Myra turned off the vacuum and looked at her.

"I've told you I'll do the vacuuming and sweeping" said Ginny gently. "It makes you wheeze."

After several seconds, Myra said "All right" and took her hand off the vacuum.

"I get it, Myra" said Ginny. "I'm not sure what to do -- I really don't want Daddy's feelings to be hurt -- but I'll figure it out. I'm sorry I tried to make you responsible for how people interpret your art."

Myra's shoulders relaxed. "I don't want David's feeling to be hurt, either. I didn't mean it as an attack on him, I hope you know that."

"I can tell, Myra. It's your -- impartiality, I guess -- your tone as an observer, that makes it all the more damning. It's a good poem" said Ginny.

Myra put her arms around Ginny and said "Thank you for saying that. And it's just a first draft, Gin. I'm not saying I'll alter it with him in mind, but one of my ethics as a writer is to infuse observation with compassion. So it may look very different after editing. Besides, what are the odds, really, that he'll see it in some academic journals or lesbian journal, if it does get printed?"

Ginny said "He'll be looking for your work. He'll have it researched by his secretary, you don't know how he is. I've never introduced them to anyone in my life, not once. He's going to come after you as a third daughter. He's ecstatic that you're my girl."

"Wow" said Myra. "Well, my mom would've done the same, in her working class way. It would involve a trip to the hobby store where she'd buy a paint by number set and make you a Jo original for your birthday, but same principle."

They laughed together, then kissed. Ginny said "Don't lock your drawer against me. I promised you."

Myra pulled the key from her pocket and said "Here. Go put it on my desk."

"You do it" said Ginny. "I'm going to finish vacuuming, you can write."

They kissed again, relieved. Myra managed to get Ginny's towel off her and on the floor.

"Your skin is all cool from the pool" Myra murmured.

"Do you mind the taste of chlorine?" said Ginny slyly. Myra laughed and began unfastening her overalls.

September 1992

Myra was looking at the galley proofs of her poetry volume, about to be published by Haworth Press, when Ginny went by, heading to the garden. She following Ginny out to the yard and began helping her weed. She said "I have this little fantasy -- I've had it for years -- about going on a book tour. With the poetry book."

Ginny looked at her. "Haworth would send you on a book tour?"

"Nah, no way. Not for poetry. I'd have to pay for it myself, but that means I could create my own schedule. Self promotion, basically. It would be a chance to see women's bookstores and read my poetry a lot of different places."

"Like what places? How big a tour are you talking about?"

"Well, the Coast for sure, Oregon and Californ-i-yay. Maybe Arizona. Texas. And then I could hop over to Atlanta and visit Claire there. Fly back from there. I thought about driving down the coast, renting a car I guess so I could leave it behind to fly east."

"You want me to go with you?" said Ginny.

"Of course."

"I can't, Myra. We can't haul the kids on that kind of a stop and go trip, not when they're babies. And it sounds like it would be more than a week. We can't both leave them with someone for that long."

"Oh. I hadn't thought about that part yet, I'd just started considering it. Well, never mind."

"No, Myra, don't just give up on it. Not if you've wanted to do it for years. And who knows how long women's bookstores will go on existing."

"I hate thinking about that" said Myra.

"Make a plan of your ideal tour and we'll talk, okay? I can be single mommy for a while."

"I'd miss the hell out of you."

"Of course" grinned Ginny. "But think of all the poetry-loving dykes you're going to dazzle."

Myra looked suddenly nervous. Ginny giggled and said "Go, Myra, go make a list."

Four days later, Myra sat down on Ginny's daybed and said "Can you take a break? I've got a book tour prospectus."

Ginny settled in beside her.

"I have to plan for a while from now, after it's published and so the bookstores can put me in their schedules. I'm thinking the first part of November. Here's the list: In Her Words in Portland where I could also see Kate; Mother Kali's in Eugene; ClaireLight in Santa Rosa; Old Wives Tales in San Fran; Mama Bears in the East Bay; Sisterspirit in San Jose; Herland in Santa Cruz; Aradia in Flagstaff; Antigone in Tucson; BookWoman in Austin; then hopping over to Charis in Atlanta, seeing Claire. That's twelve stores, and even if I double up in the East Bay and take planes instead of driving through the Southwest, it's still at least two weeks I'd be on the road."

"Two weeks..." said Ginny.

"Maybe more. I could leave out Arizona, I guess. But I really want to see Austin again, and Claire. I've called all these places, and it's doable, at least so far."

After a long silence, Ginny said "I'd need help, Myra. Real help."

"I know. We'll have to ask our friends, see if they could actually stay here for a bit. If not, it's out of the question."

Ginny was still quiet, looking at the list. Finally she said "I really want to do this with you."

"That's what I want, too. I could postpone it, count on having another book at some point in the future that I could tour with."

"No...This is a step in your career as an artist. We need for you to take it." But still Ginny did not say okay, and her voice was definitely guarded.

Myra took the list back and folded it in half. "Let's sleep on it. You can talk to -- whoever you need to talk to." Her tone was neutral. She got up and headed for her desk.

Ginny sat there, looking at her hands on her knees. She wanted to go to Myra, said "I get it, let's do it." She wanted to not be so scared about being on her own with the children, to support Myra as much as she knew Myra supported her. She felt terrible about how unfair she was being. And she couldn't see a way to get through it. Her brain felt stopped in its tracks.

Finally she stood up and brushed off her bottom unconsciously, as if she had been sitting in dirt. She went to Myra and put one hand on her shoulder. When Myra looked up at her, there were tears in her eyes.

"Oh, god. Myra, baby, I don't know what to do. I'm hurting you." Ginny pulled Myra to her belly, and Myra began crying. Ginny got her to her feet and led her to the daybed so they could lie down together. Myra lay on her, weeping but not saying anything.

After a while, Myra said "It's time to get the kids up from their nap."

"I'll do that, Myra."

"I think I want to go out for a while. Maybe to a movie."

Ginny pulled up Myra's chin so their eyes connected.

"I'm stuck, Myra, but I won't stay stuck. You do whatever will actually help you, but don't think you have to just eat this. I'm going to get help."

Myra rolled over to the side and wiped her face with her hands. After a minute she said "Okay."

"In fact, I'm going to call Nancy right now. And if you want to go to the movies, see if Allie is available to go with you. I'd rather you not be alone."

After another minute, Myra said "Okay."

"Can I kiss you?" It felt strange coming out of Ginny's mouth.

"I'd -- rather not. Not just yet."

Ginny's blood turned to water. She suddenly felt she would have trouble sitting up. But she struggled up and said "Okay, Myra. I'm going to call now."

She went into the kitchen and sat at the breakfast bar to call. She had to leave a message. She began trying to think about the rest of the day, how to fill it.

Myra walked into the kitchen and put her hand on Ginny's arm. "I'm going out. I think Allie is at that class today. I'll be home by dinner, if that's all right with you."

Ginny didn't think she could possibly say no, not at this point. Myra picked up her keys and wallet, headed for the door.

"Myra" said Ginny, "You forgot your notebook." She held up the pad Myra always carried in her back pocket.

Myra said "I don't need it" and went out the door. Ginny looked at the notebook -- Myra never left it behind. If nothing else, she might have an idea of poetry she needed to jot down. Ginny laid her head on her hands and hoped for tears, but nothing came.

After several minutes, she got up and poured a glass of cranberry juice. Sitting back down at the bar, she called Allie first. She left a message, telling her what had just happened and asking her to dinner that night. Then she called Chris and left a similar message. She started to call her father, then realized she would likely get her mother and hung up with the number half-dialed. She thought about calling Patty, too, but Patty was teaching at the moment.

Ginny went upstairs and woke the children. After taking them to potty, she was walking downstairs, holding Gillam, when she heard the front door open. She rushed the last few steps, her heart lifting, but it was Allie dropping by after her class. She hadn't heard Ginny's message yet.

Ginny began crying. Margie froze, looking up at her in wonder. Allie put her arm around Ginny and said "What's wrong? Are you okay?" She tried to take Gillam, but Ginny held onto him.

"I'm okay" she choked out. "Myra and I -- just had a fight."

"Where is she?"

"Out. Maybe the movies."

"What happened?" Allie looked distressed. Margie grabbed Ginny's leg with both arms and said "Fight? You and Mama fight?"

Ginny forced herself to stop crying and looked down at Margie with a fake smile, "Yeah, honey, just an argument. Everything's okay."

Gillam was looking intently into her face. "I love you, sugar boy" she told him, and that set off another little rill of tears. He patted her cheek, then wiggled to be let down.

"Do you want me to take them upstairs? Or outside?" said Allie.

"No, I think being with them will do me good" said Ginny, looking around for a kleenex. "Do you two need a snack?" she asked Margie; Gillam was trying to get at Juju under the dining table.

"Cookies!" said Margie.

"No, no cookies. How about sliced apple with almond butter on it?"

Margie nodded, and followed Ginny into the kitchen. After Gillam was in his high chair, Margie at the table beside him, Allie began cutting their apples into slices.

Ginny tried to think of something for dinner. Something special for Myra. Steaks, except she really didn't know how to cook them. Pork, but ditto. Hamburgers -- no, cheeseburgers! From real beef, not veggie burgers. She went to the freezer and got out ground beef, then pulled out one of Myra's pecan pies and put that in the oven to bake.

She thought Even Myra's favorite desserts are things she makes for herself, and she began crying again. She sat down at the table with the children, who watched her solemnly as they ate.

Trying to regain her composure, she finally told Allie about her run-in with Myra. Allie listened it out, graciously accepting a bite of Margie's apple. Then she leaned over and kissed Ginny on the cheek. Ginny gave herself up to crying then, none of this half-assed hold it together for the children crap any more.

Margie asked "Why is Mama hurt?"

Allie said "She did something she's sorry for, and she feels bad. She wishes she hadn't done it."

"She was bad?" said Margie. Her face looked a little thrilled. Gillam's, on the other hand, was shocked.

"No, she wasn't bad. She just made a mistake. And because she has a tender heart, and never ever wants to hurt anybody else, she feels bad for her mistake." At the mention of tender heart, Ginny wailed.

"Wear is Mama?" asked Gillam. Allie was pretty sure this was not an existential question, rather, a query about Myra's whereabouts, but she looked at him intently for a moment, wondering.

"Myra Mama? She's at the movies."

He nodded as if this fully explained why Ginny was crying. Well, he was right, actually.

Ginny scoured through her grief by the time the children were done eating. She blew her nose again, cleared away their plates, and said "Okay, I'm done being a martyr. Take 'em upstairs to play and make 'em happy. I'll start dinner. I'm sorry for putting you through this."

Allie smiled and said "It's okay. I'm sure they like knowing they aren't the only crybabies in the house."

As she walked them upstairs, Margie was making up a song about crybabies and flyrabies.

When Myra opened her front door at almost 6:00, Gillam was being swung around in circles by Sima in the living room; Allie was nearby teaching Margie how to dance like MC Hammer; and Chris was setting the table. She stood in the foyer for a moment, as everybody called out "Hi", then said to Sima "What is that smell?"

Ginny strode around the breakfast bar. "I'm grilling cheeseburgers in the broiler!" she said happily. "We have two kinds of chips, baked beans, lime jello with pineapple in it, and iced tea."

"And pie for dessert!" yelled Margie.

Myra just stood, dumbfounded, as Ginny reached her and hugged her tight. In a few seconds, she melted into the hug and buried her face in Ginny's neck. "I'm so sorry, Myra" Ginny whispered.

"No, I'm sorry, honey" replied Myra, "I just ran out of here -- "

"It's okay, you did what you had to do -- " said Ginny, talking over Myra.

They both began laughing, and looked in each other's eyes.

"You made a white trash dinner?" said Myra. "You must've panicked."

Ginny giggled. "What movie did you see?"

"I went back to Alien 3."

"Oh my god, what is this, five times you've seen it?"


They kissed, and Gillam, who had gotten over being dizzy, ran over to grab their legs. Myra picked him up and said "I feel like George Bailey. Wait, let me see -- " She reached into her pocket, then pulled out an imaginary item between her fingers and said "Zuzu's petals!"

Everybody laughed. She went to gather hugs as Ginny began setting food on the breakfast bar.

As Myra cut Gillam's burger into bite-sized bits, Allie said "I'm going to come here and live for the time of your book tour. I'll sleep upstairs next to the kids."

Margie waved her fists in the air in jubilation, crushing the chip in her hand and flinging crumbs onto Allie beside her. Myra looked at Ginny, at the other end of the table, and Ginny beamed at her.

Gillam put his hand on her arm and said "Mama? Wat is dis?" He was pointing with one pudgy finger at the pineapple in his jello.

"It's pineapple, buddy. Like you eat all the time."

"How do I get it?" His face was crinkled in puzzlement.

Myra cracked up. "This is jello, Gillam, have you never had jello? It's sweet and cold, a little like sherbet. Here, take a bite -- no, it's okay, bite down into it." Gillam's eyes got very wide. Myra handed him his spoon, but he soon dropped it in favor of squeezing off pieces of jello and trying to get them to his mouth before they slipped from his fingers.

Myra grinned at Ginny again. "His first jello. We should put this in the baby milestone book."

As the pie was being sliced and Myra was wiping down Gillam's green-slimed hands -- "Though why I'm bothering, he's going to eat his pie with them, I'm sure", Chris said "Now, when exactly is this tour going to start?"

"Well, I'm going to try for the first of November, so I'll be home well before Thanksgiving. If I need to drop some dates to make that happen, I will" said Myra.

"The job I'm at officially ends on Halloween" said Chris. "I've got a line at the temp agency for a new one, but in the meantime I'm going on unemployment." She paused, not looking at Sima. "I could go with you."

Myra stared at her. "Really? Oh, Chris, that would be super. I would love your company. We haven't had a road trip -- well, have we ever had a road trip?"

"On my cycle that time. To Yellowstone" laughed Chris.

"That was wretched! Riding in the rain on an open bike" Myra was laughing too. "Remember that woman tourist who was wearing a liberating masturbation T-shirt, that Betty Dodson graphic? And she was all kinda butch -- "

"From Iowa, I swear to god, every straight woman in Iowa looks butch -- " cried Chris.

"So you cruised on over to her and began chatting her up. But she was married, and didn't know what the T-shirt mean until you told her, and then -- " said Myra.

"She looked like wanted to rip it off right there in the parking lot!" finished Chris.

Myra looked at Ginny to share the joke. Ginny was smiling but bravely. Sima said "I swear to god, Chris Kash, your sense of timing is pathetic."

"What? They made up, they always make up" protested Chris.

Gillam had finished his small sliver of pie and made a lunge for Chris's plate. Chris moved it out of his reach. He shifted in his chair, eyeing Myra's. Myra put another bit on her fork and lifted it to his mouth, saying "Here comes the jumbo jet, about to land at Heathrow." As Gillam's mouth closed over the fork, Myra said "Touchdown!" He was gleeful.

"Besides, Sima" argued Chris "How long has Myra been writing poetry? Since she was nine? And this is her first book? I'd be out of my mind to pass up this chance."

Myra saw Sima pinch Chris painfully on her thigh. Chris managed not to yelp.

"I'll pay your way, and I'll pay your a month's salary to be my tour assistant" said Myra. "Shut up, don't argue" she said, pointing a finger at Chris.

Margie jabbed a finger at Chris and echoed "Shut up, don't argue!" Allie reached for her finger, saying "No, Margie, that's not nice to say."

Ginny managed to find her voice. "I'd be honored, Chris, if you'd accompany Myra and make sure she's okay for me. One less worry for me."

Myra looked down the table at her, deeply moved. Ginny smiled weakly and said "And this way, I know you won't be going to bars after the readings with local babydykes."

Which broke the tension. Chris offered a bite to Gillam, saying "Here comes the Harley, into the Hell's Angels rally!"

"That's enough sugar for him" said Ginny.

2 November 1992

On Sunday morning, Dia de Los Muertos, two carloads set out for Portland: Sima and Chris in one car, with Myra, Ginny, and the children in their second car. They met up with Kate Bean at noon, had lunch, and then went to the Portland Children's Museum for the afternoon. That night, Sima and Chris peeled off for an evening on their own, while the rest went back to Kate's house and visited.

The next morning, Sima headed back to Seattle. She and Chris said goodbye with a long hug and much whispering. Those remaining went to Powell's, the City of Books. Chris and Kate got their fill after an hour and left, Kate promising to show Chris the Columbia River Gorge. Myra looked like she would be happy to set up a hammock and live in the bookstore permanently.

Ginny kept the children entertained as long as she could in the kid's book section. Eventually she took them out in a double stroller onto the streets of downtown. Two hours later, she returned and told Myra her time was up. Myra went to the customer service counter where she had stashed three large carts full of books over the course of the spree.

Her check-out drew some attention, not just because of the number of books she was buying but because not all of them had to be cartoned up for Ginny to take back home. Myra finally took her difficult "choosing what to take on the trip" process out to the parking garage. They then found a park and played wild games with the children until everybody was breathless. At 5:00, they met up with Chris and Kate at Old Wives' Tales Restaurant for early dinner. By 6:30, they were at In Her Words, meeting with the bookstore staff, hauling in a carton of poetry volumes. Myra took some time alone to get ready for her reading. The other adults took turns spending time with the kids in front of the store, keeping them entertained.

The turnout was small: Poetry readings were not usually crowded events. But Myra was in high good spirits, kicking off her tour, and she had some solid fans in the audience. The Q&A was raucous and went on until 8:30. Afterward, they all went back to Kate's for dessert. An hour later, Ginny had coaxed Myra out to the car and back to the hotel. Chris opted to stay in Kate's spare room for the night.

The next morning, a red-eyed Myra picked up Chris and said goodbye to Kate before she left for work. When Chris got in the back with the children, Ginny was silent in the front seat. At the car rental place, Chris went in with Myra to get on the driving agreement. Ginny moved into the driver's seat of her car and stayed there even when Myra and Chris began transferring their luggage and boxes of poetry volumes to the rental car. Myra crawled into the back seat to hug Margie and Gillam goodbye, but they were restless and uninterested in her emotionality.

Myra stood up again, standing by the driver's side, jingling the rental car keys in her hand, looking miserable. Ginny got out then. She hugged Chris first and whispered "You take care of her."

"I always have" replied Chris. "You take care of Ginny, and those precious children."

Ginny was fighting not to cry. She went to Myra and melted into her arms.

"We've never been apart this long" she said again.

Myra whispered "You say the word -- any time, I'll be home right away."

Ginny closed her eyes, hugging Myra tight. "No risks, do you hear me? I know what you and Chris are like together, don't take any risks however fun it sounds."

"All my risks are with you, Ginny Bates" answered Myra. "Are you sure you're fine driving back to Seattle alone?"

"Yes. We'll stop partway at some interesting looking natural spot and I'll let the kids run around, recharge my batteries. Once I get there, I need to go vote -- I should've done absentee like you and Chris. Now I'll have to take the kids to the polls with me."

"Don't let them forget me."

Ginny giggled. "They'll think Allie is their other Mama by the time you get back....Oh, Myra, I was joking, I didn't mean it. You know better, they're going to miss you as much or more than me."

Myra was crying softly now.

"Okay, now go. Get in that car and go. I fell in love with a poet, go make me proud." Ginny kissed her one last time, and pushed Myra into her car. She patted on the roof of the car, bent in the open window and whispered "I love you all there is" and pointed to the road. Myra drove away.

Once on I- 5, Myra had calmed down and was feeling the first pull of the highway. Chris fiddled with the radio. After a minute, she said "She doesn't trust you with me, does she?"

Myra glanced at her. "No."

"Well, I can see why."

Myra looked at her a bit longer. "What do you mean?"

"She was raised in betrayal. It isn't just her mother who didn't love her. Her father refused to take a stand for her. She needs a lot of reassurance."

Myra was silent for a moment.

Chris said, looking out the windshield, "It isn't just the parents who dump on us who teach us we deserve less."

After another minute, Myra said "If you reach into my pack, there's a cassette with Robin Flower and the Berkeley Women's Music Collective on it. Let's put that in."

As the music began, Myra sang along "Whoa they lied / I still ain't satisfied." They sped south.

Getting to Eugene before noon, they went first to the local organic food store, the Kiva (whose name made Chris's jaw set), and bought road food to fill their cooler and snack box. They ate lunch at a clam shack and hung out by the Willamette for a while. Chris went for a long walk and Myra read in some of her new books. Finally the cold and damp got to them, and they found a matinee to hole up in.

After her reading that night, Myra stopped at a pay phone and called Ginny. When Ginny answered, she could hear Margie crying in the background.

"What's wrong? What are they doing still up?"

"Well, that's the issue. Gillam is already asleep, but Margie sneaked back downstairs looking for Allie. I think she's just unsettled; the house feels awful without you here, Myra."

"Oh, god, Ginny. I'm so sorry."

"It's okay. We'll adjust. How was the reading?"

"Excellent. There was a friend of mine in the audience -- a friend, not an ex -- and it was nice to catch up with her. Listen, we're going to drive on. We're worried about snow tomorrow, and we want to get through Rogue Pass tonight while it's still dry. We're hoping to get to California, Yreka or Weed, before we have to stop. That way, we'll have a few extra hours and could maybe cut over to 101 and take the Redwood Highway instead of 5."

"Sounds fun. Are you tired? Will it be safe for you to drive at night like this?"

"I'm pumped, actually. We'll stop when we're tired, I promise. Do you want me to call you from the motel?"

Ginny paused. "No, I'm going to get her down and then see if I can just drop off, too. Should I call Sima for Chris?"

"If you wouldn't mind. I'll call you tomorrow night, for sure."

Margie had not stopped crying the entire call. Myra felt it in her chest.

"Okay, Myra. I love you."

"I love you back. I miss you."

Ginny snorted. "Missing doesn't cover it. See you in our dreams, My."

After Myra hung up, she realized she had been too distracted to celebrate with Ginny the fact that a Democrat had finally won back the Presidency.

They managed to get as far as Redding with clear, dry roads, and checked into a motel. The next morning, after breakfast, they decided they had enough time to take 299 over to Eureka and go down the coast highway. They stopped for lunch at a cafe in the middle of nowhere, on the Avenue of the Giants, where the milkshakes were made from scratch in stainless steel canisters like Myra remembered from her childhood. The scenery was breathtaking, and Myra put in Trish Nugent's "Foxglove Woman". As she was singing along, she said to Chris "I never knew what these lyrics were describing until now."

"That last song was in 'Word Is Out', wasn't it?"

"Yeah, that's when I found out about her. Got her album after that."

They made it to the reading in Santa Rosa just in time. Afterward, they got dinner from a chain restaurant since the local places recommended to them were all closed. They stayed the night in Santa Rosa because Myra said the best fat girls' clothing store of all time was nearby and she wanted to check it out in the morning.

That night at the hotel, Myra called Ginny.

"Where are you?" said Ginny.

"Santa Rosa, home of crunchy granola dykes. Bigger turnout than I expected. And, oh, Gin, the drive here was spectacular -- redwoods and ocean views -- "

"Is that a TV on?"

"Yeah, Chris is enthralled with all the cable channels."

"Are you two sharing a room?"

"Well, of course."

"But not a bed, right?"

There was a long silence. "You're sleeping in the same bed?" demanded Ginny.

"Why wouldn't we?" said Myra. "We have for years."

"Not since 1986" said Ginny. "What kind of bed? Myra, is it a king or a queen?"

"Queen tonight, that's all they had" said Myra. Chris glanced around at her.

"For shit's sake, Myra. I got so fucking lonely last night I decided to let both kids sleep with me tonight, and you're snuggled up with Chris Kash, having your lesbian-poet-to-the-masses romantic adventure -- "

"Ginny, what is up with you?"

"Don't you dare try to act like this is just me, Myra Josong. Don't you even think about making it my problem!"

"Okay, Gin, you know what? I'm going to go find a pay phone and call you from there. We'll talk this out."

"So your roommate won't be disturbed, is that it?" Ginny's voice was in her upper register.

"I'll call as soon as I can. I love you, Ginny." Myra hung up.

Chris had turned off the TV and said "Melting down?"

"Yeah. I don't know how long I'll be."

"What triggered her?"

"Finding out we were sharing a bed."

Chris looked wary. "I think while you're out, I'll call Sima."

"I think that's a good idea. Okay if I take the car and leave you stranded?"

"Yeah. When should I start worrying about you?"

"I have no idea how long this will take. We've never done this."

"Good luck, then."

Myra crept back into the room at 11 p.m., discovering Chris still awake and watching TV. Myra went to the bathroom, brushed her teeth and washed her face, then changed into a T-shirt and shorts. She got into bed beside Chris, who offered her a shoulder to rest her head on. Myra accepted gratefully.

At a commercial, Chris muted the sound and said "Okay on the homefront?"

"Eventually. Just in case we're not clear on this, you and I are not supposed to fuck."

"Glad you reminded me, it could happen accidentally."

Myra laughed. "I also have a long list of what I should and should not buy at the clothes store tomorrow."

"How're the kids?"

"Gillam's gone quiet, and Margie -- well, Margie is the kind of girl who needs two mamas all the time. Allie's getting a taste of what 24/7 means. How's Sima?"

"Lonely. I miss her like hell."

"Yeah, I'm missing Ginny, too. Wish she'd believe that. What're you watching?"

"Black Widow."

"Have they had the scene yet where Debra Winger kisses her?"

"Not yet. Oops, movie's back on."

Myra fell asleep a few minutes later. When the movie was over, Chris turned off the TV and rolled Myra to her side so she could spoon her.

They slept in and ate from their car food on the way to Cotati, where Making It Big, the women's clothing store, was located. Myra insisted Chris shop, too, or else it would be too weird. Myra pulled the page from her little pad that had the list of Ginny's recommendations and kept it in her hand as they cruised the racks and shelves. They left the store with several bags between them. Myra grinned and said "Do we go get our hair done next?"

"No, let's get to Oakland and eat at the Brick Hut. Does it still look like it did on the Mary Watkins album cover?"

"No, Chris, that place was so tiny. It's moved to another location. But still the same atmosphere. After my reading tonight, let's head into San Fran and drive up Twin Peaks."

"We have the whole weekend off, right?"

"Yeah. Got any requests?"

"Chinatown. The Women's Building. The Castro, maybe. And Alcatraz."

"You're kidding about Alcatraz, right?"

"Heck, no. I've got a printout about the occupation, I want to relive it." Chris was grinning.

"Awesome. There a women's bathhouse, Osento, you're gonna love, too. Not that kind of bathhouse."

"You have any old friends here, Myra, you want to look up?"

"None I dare look up, no." They laughed.

"Where are we staying?"

"A lesbian B and B in Noe Valley."

"This traffic is getting hairy."

"You ain't seen nothing yet, Chris. And all the routes into SF have tolls: The only city in the world with a cover charge."

That night, after checking into their B and B, Myra called Ginny and said "Oh my GOD, Gin, you'll never believe who came to my reading! Judy Grahn!"

"Really?!! You must've been awestruck."

"I was, I kinda blew the first poem or two, until I got into my stride."

"Did you tell her you were the one who stole her jeans way back when?"

Myra laughed, mortified. "Fuck no. But we talked afterward -- I signed her book, and we talked for a bit. About poetry!"

"Did Chris take pictures like I asked?"

"She did for a fact. We're about to go see some city lights. And I got bunches of clothes to show off. Wore one of my new shirts tonight. Let me give you this number, this is where we'll be until Tuesday morning."

"Don't forget to get souvenirs for the kids."

"We're going to the Exploratorium tomorrow, they have a gift shop."

"Myra, don't go nuts, they already have plenty of toys."

"And I'm going to have them shipped directly home. Go ahead and open 'em before I get there, maybe it will help."

"What will help is you walking in the front door."

"I miss you like a piece of my body is gone, Ginny."

"Are you writing, Myra?"

"Yeah, at least a poem a day. Are you painting?"

Ginny snorted. "Not unless you count how I smear jelly on a sandwich as an art form."

"I owe you, Ginny."

"No, you don't. Nothing more than what you already give me. Call me Sunday morning when you get up and can talk for longer than a few minutes, we need to catch up."

On Monday night, Myra called Ginny from a pay phone in a coffee shop in the Mission District, between blasts of mariachi music from the jukebox.

"Ginny, I am floating on air! This was the best night yet, and it ain't over. Okay, get this -- Kitty Tsui was at my reading!"

"Oh, amazing, Myra. What did she look like?"

"Daggerish. Gorgeous. I wish I had my poetry collection with me, I keep wanting to get my books signed. But she's not all, Gin."

"Who else? Exes, right?"

"Uh -- yeah, a couple. But I always start off by talking about my life now, you and the kids, and how happy I am. So they only said hi afterwards. Anyhow, I was focused elsewhere: Dorothy Allison was there, and Chrystos!"

"Chrystos? She lives here."

"Yeah, but she's here on a visit. And although Chris and her've met, they really connected tonight, isn't that funny? So we're all out having dessert, me, Chris, Chrystos and Dorothy."

"You're with Dorothy Allison?"

"Ain't it a kick?" Myra was hugging herself with glee.

"So I guess you can't talk long."

"Not now, but when I get back to our place I could call again."

"No, Myra, I need to go to sleep. Gillam's had diarrhea all day, running a low fever. I put him on bananas and rice, and it seems to be going away.

"Oh, god, Ginny. Did he mess on himself?"

"A couple of times, yeah. He really cried about it, too."

"Poor baby." Myra's throat was tight. "And poor Ginny."

"Also, there's been a major aphid infestation of the plants on the upper deck. If Gillam's better, I can maybe grab a couple of hours tomorrow to do a nicotine treatment on them."

"Oh, Gin. I wish I was there."

"You and me both. Well, Myra, you deserve this recognition, take it all in, my love. I'll let you get back to Dorothy."

"Yeah, they're serving our flan. Tell Gillam and Margie how much I love them. Tell Gillam -- oh, never mind, bringing it back up will only upset him again. I'll talk with you soon."

The next day Myra called Ginny at 5:00 from their motel in San Jose.

"Chris has gone out to eat by herself and is going to bring me back something. I have an hour free before I need to get ready for my reading, so I'm calling to see if you want to talk."

"Oh, god, yes. Let me tell Allie and switch to the phone in the bedroom."

A bit later, she yelled to Allie to hang up and then said "What did you two do today?"

"We drove down Highway 1 from San Fran. It was more beautiful than I can say. Well, not true, I actually wrote two poems, so I guess I can say. We went to an amazing beach call Bean Hollow, and we ate lunch in Pescadero -- "

"Spanish for a fisher? My kind of town -- "

"You said it, Ginny. I had some of the best scallops I've ever tasted."

"You ordered scallops? Not steak?"

Myra laughed ruefully. "Well, it was scallops and steak. But the scallops made me miss you so much. Ginny, tell me every detail. Tell me what the kids are saying, and what you made for dinner, and that you don't think Allie makes a better partner than me. Just talk like we're curled up on your daybed together."

The next night, Myra called from Santa Cruz, excited but also starting to sound weary. "Ellen Bass and Gloria Anzaldua came to my reading. I really wanted to go out afterward with Gloria, but I was too shy to ask, and Chris was busy talking to somebody she knew who was there, so she didn't jump in for me. She's been an incredible companion for me."

There was a moment of silence, and Myra said "Oh, god, Ginny, you know I'd rather have you."

"Yes, Myra, I was just pausing because I found half a tofu dog here under my pillow, dammit."'

"Margie strikes again."

"She's really acting out -- not all the time, but regularly. I thought having Allie around would put her on good behavior, but it hasn't made a difference. There's no replacing you in her life. Or mine."

"I'll call tomorrow morning after I wake up and talk with her, okay? Her and Gillam both."

"That's a great idea. Tomorrow you catch a plane to Flagstaff?"

"Yeah, but not till noon. We were going to take in the boardwalk here, but I'm too sad about doing it without the kids. I think instead we'll stay in, sleep a little later and chill out."

"I started my period today. So I guess I'm not pregnant."

Myra laughed. "I did, too. How nice that we've stayed in sync."

"Wish I could have gory, horny period sex with you right at the moment."

"What would you do first?"

"...Is Chris in the room?"

"No, she's walked down to an ice cream place. She'll be back with my macademia nut brittle in a while, so talk fast."

"Nuh-uh, girlfriend, fast is not part of what I'm about to do with you..."

The next afternoon, Myra called from their motel in Flagstaff. She got the message machine, and began saying "Hey, darlin, well, all you darlins, we're here in snowy Arizona. I'll give you this number since we're going to be here for the weekend -- "

Ginny interrupted, picking up the phone. "Myra? Listen, honey, give me the number quick. Then -- Sima's here, she needs to talk to Chris."

"What's wrong?"

"Don't say anything yet, but her father died. Chris's father. But Sima wants to be the one to tell her. Give me the number and then put her on, okay? I'll talk with you later today, okay?"

After Myra handed the phone to Chris, she sat behind her on the bed and put her arm around Chris's waist. She felt the shock travel through Chris's body when Sima told her the news. Chris put her hand over her eyes and after a couple of seconds said "I'm still here." Then "How?"

After another minute of listening, Chris said "So you talked to her, directly?" Then "I dunno yet." Then "I can't think...Honey, I need to just sit with this a while. Myra's here. Can I call you back?...Yeah, I wish you were too. You know how I am, I need time...Okay, as soon as I can." She hung up gently. Myra put the phone back on the bedside table. Chris lay face down on the bed, silent. Myra lay down beside her and put her arm over Chris.

Ten minutes went by. Chris didn't move or make a sound.

Finally she shifted to her side, but still didn't look at Myra. She said "He died in Idaho."

"Where he's been living?"

"Yeah. They tracked down my sister this morning. He died yesterday."

"What did he die of?"

"Heart. But alcohol, really." Chris looked at Myra then. "His funeral is tomorrow."

"We can get back. Wherever it is, we can get there. We'll get Sima there, too."

"What about your tour?"

"Fuck the tour."

Chris almost smiled. "I'm not sure -- I don't think I really want to go to his funeral."

"Even if we get to dance on his grave?"

Chris did smile then. "He'll be there a long time. Lots of other chances for that."

Myra lifted her arm and offered Chris her shoulder. After a long pause, Chris accepted, settling in along Myra.

"I don't know what to do. Or feel."

"You don't have to know. You're fine as is."

"We were going to see the Grand Canyon tomorrow." Chris sounded regretful.

"Well, it's going to be there a long time, too."

Myra felt Chris smile again, against her shoulder.

"I can't remember the last time I talked with him. I know it was after I was with Sima, because -- it upset me for a while, and she had to figure out how to handle it."

"Maybe when your mom died?"

"After that." Chris lifted one thigh and put it over Myra's, pushing in closer to her. "I can't remember ever loving him. I know I must have at one point. I mean, all children love their fathers at the outset, right?"

"I don't know. Wrong girl to ask."

Chris laughed softly. "Sima adored her father. The McCarthy'd martyr. She just can't quite get it."

"Yeah, only the bastards live till they're old."

Chris laughed again. "That include us?"

"You better believe it, Kash-Kash."

Chris fell silent again for a while. She put her hand on Myra's belly, and Myra covered it with her own hand.

Finally Chris said, in a voice so low Myra almost couldn't understand her: "He used to loan me out. To his friends."

Myra had suspected as much, but still it made her blood slow down to a crawl. She kissed the top of Chris's head.

"After -- Ma would scrub me with a washcloth, telling me how dirty I was."

"Ah, shit, Chris." Myra didn't know how to contain what she was feeling. She pulled at Chris, and Chris rolled over on top of her. She was a lot heavier than Ginny, and taller than Myra, but it still felt familiar. Chris relaxed momentarily, and then slid into sobs that wracked her body. Myra held her tight. It was more rage than grief, at least at first. During the raging, Chris seemed to be heavier. As she moved into grief, then cleared, her body fit onto Myra's more comfortably. Finally Chris wiped her face on the cuff of the pillowcase and lay her head back on Myra's shoulder. She was still again, and Myra began to think she had fallen asleep.

Then Chris spoke again. "I don't want to go to that funeral. It will piss off my sister, make her not talk to me again."

"We'll mend that. You can call her, tell her we'll pay for the funeral. That'll help."

Chris leaned back then, to look Myra in the face. "You do not have to pay for that fucker's funeral."

"If I don't, your sister will. Right? Well, I'm not going to let her be out a penny because of him. She's your sister, she's family."

Chris stared at her, her black eyes large in her wide face. After a few moments, the expression on her face softened. She looked at Myra's mouth.

Myra grinned. "No way Jose."

Chris laughed and lay her head back down on Myra's shoulder. She said "Okay, that's one thing, then. I call my sister and you buy my way out of obligation."

"What else? If you could do anything at all tomorrow, what would it be?"

Chris was thinking, Myra could tell. Then she said "Hopiland." She leaned up again to look at Myra.


"Always wanted to go. It's not far."

"What about Sima, shall we fly her in?"

"No. In fact, I may ditch you. I want to see Canyon de Chelly. And, if they'll let me in, Old Oraibi. I mean, if it's truly okay to stop the book tour."

"Heck, yeah, I want to see Spider Woman Rock, too. I'll need to call Claire and tell her I won't be coming to Atlanta right now-- she and I need to just visit each other. I'll get her to come to Seattle and stay for a few days."

"What about us getting back to Seattle, My? Are our tickets changeable?"

"Yeah, I can call sometime in the next three days. After we know what we're doing."

Chris rolled off Myra and went to the bathroom. Myra heard water running in the sink. She pulled the map of Arizona from her pack.

When Chris came back in, she said "I need to talk with Sima, first. Then my sister. I'd rather you not be in the room."

"Okay. Here's my credit card, no limit on it -- get the funeral home info and make the authorization directly yourself, please. Here's my PIN number. I'm guessing Sima is still with Ginny, so try there first. And please tell Ginny I'll call her later. I'm going to walk over to Denny's, you wanna meet me there when you're done?"

Myra gathered her notebook, map, and a book to read. Chris kissed her cheek and sat down next to the phone as Myra left the room.

(Spider Woman Rock, Canyon de Chelly, photo 1879 by John Hillers)

Three days later, their plane from Flagstaff came in half an hour late. Myra felt a ticking inside her as they taxied to the ramp in Seattle. She had her seatbelt off and was standing with her carry-on bag ready before anybody else in first class. She and Chris were the first people off the plane.

At the end of the ramp, she could see Sima, and she moved to the side to let Chris stride past her. Chris dropped her bag to the floor a few steps before she reached Sima, and Myra picked it up for her. Sima glued herself into Chris's arms, her face mashed against Chris's shoulder, eyes closed in relief. Myra stood beside them, zoning people around them. After a long minute, Sima lifted her head and kissed Chris, the kind of kiss Myra seldom saw them do in front of others. She looked away, missing Ginny with a physical pain in her chest.

Myra sat in the back seat for the drive from the airport to her house. Sima and Chris were holding hands and talking in front, but she couldn't really pay attention. The ticking was louder. As they got off the freeway and headed for her neighborhood, she had to remind herself to keep breathing steadily. It was a wet night, and everything glistened blackly under the street lights. She felt a passion for home pulsing in her chest, now in time with the ticking.

A light was on in the living room when they pulled up out front. She said "I'll get the book boxes from you tomorrow, I gotta go" and grabbed her bags from the seat beside her in a frantic rush. Chris laughed and said "Have fun, girl." She forgot to thank Sima for the ride. She all but ran up the driveway, then dropped one bag to fish in a pocket for her keys. But the door opened suddenly, and Ginny was kissing her, crying a little, squeezing her around the middle, then touching Myra's face and shoulders.

They got inside the house, finally, and remembered Myra's bags but left them inside the front door. Allie was in bed; it was almost midnight. They staggered, kissing, to the bedroom, and lay down without Myra even taking off her jacket or shoes, Myra on top of Ginny, Ginny's legs wrapped around Myra's hips. As Ginny's mouth became familiar again, Myra kissed her longer and longer, less frantically. Finally Myra leaned back and looked at her in the dark watery light coming through the glass wall.

"Take your clothes off" said Ginny softly. They sat up and undressed, then Ginny pulled back the covers and they crawled under the sheets together, side by side.

"I'm not meant to be away from you" said Myra.

"What do you want most?" asked Ginny, kissing her face from one side to the other.

"Your taste. You in my mouth" said Myra immediately.

Ginny sat up and pushed Myra gently onto her back, then lifted her hips and straddled Myra's face, balancing herself with her hands on the headboard. Myra pulled her down by her thighs the last inch, mouth open, trying not to be frenzied in her eagerness. Ginny cried out several times. After a few minutes, Ginny lifted herself and turned around, sliding down Myra's body and pushing Myra's thighs apart strongly, then letting Myra pull her hips back to her mouth.

Afterward, they both wept, again side by side but pressed together their full lengths. Ginny said "I want to hear everything."

"I can't talk about it right now" said Myra. "I can't do anything but be with you, take you in."

"I have to go pee" said Ginny, after a moment.

"I'll go with you" said Myra. They both peed, and then went into the kitchen to make cups of steamed milk with hazelnut syrup. They carried these back to bed, sitting up with Ginny sideways between Myra's legs, looking at each other as they sipped. They made love again, this time slowly, Myra on top of Ginny. They dozed off for a few minutes, then Myra woke and said "I need to see the children."

"C'mon" said Ginny. They went upstairs and opened the door quietly. Myra was afraid she might burst into tears. The room smelled like them. She could hear Gillam's breathing. It wasn't enough to just look at them, she wanted to wake them up, cup their feet in her hands, rub her palms over their backs and shoulders, kiss their plump cheeks over and over.

"Let's take them back to bed with us" she whispered to Ginny.

Ginny went to Gillam's bed and gathered him up carefully. He breathed out but did not open his eyes. Myra bent over Margie and lifted her arms, then her body into her embrace. Margie murmured something, and Myra whispered "It's Mama. You're with Mama, my darling." Margie stayed asleep but her arm tightened around Myra's neck, and Myra fought the urge to cry again.

They carried them slowly downstairs. Myra whispered "I need you next to me. Let's put them on the other side of me, a chair pushed up to keep them from falling out." She lay down in the middle of the bed, with Gillam cradled in front of her and Margie in her hands next to him. Ginny spooned behind her. Myra gave out a huge breath and said "Now I'm okay."

"They'll be awake in three hours" said Ginny.

"I don't care, I can't wait to see them" said Myra.

"Don't do this again, not without me" said Ginny.

"I won't" said Myra. "I can't." She buried her nose in Gillam's hair and closed her eyes.

She woke up to the impact of Margie hurling herself onto Myra's chest. "Mama!" cried Margie. "Where did you get from?"

Myra grinned foggily at Margie. "A plane brought me back last night." She looked to her side; Gillam was sitting up, his hand in his mouth, staring at her. She reached her arm to him and said "Come here, boychik!" He smiled suddenly, transcendant, and threw himself face forward onto Myra's shoulder. She scooped him in and kissed his face until he wriggled it away.

Ginny lay her head on Myra's other shoulder and said "Welcome home." Margie began chanting "Welcome home, welcome home". Myra said "Don't bounce up and down on my belly, Margie, okay?"

"Are you going to be here tonight? Today and tonight?" asked Margie.

"I'm not going away again for as long as I can see in the future" said Myra. "I just want to be with you. Really, Margie, no more bouncing."

"Let's go potty" Ginny said to the children. Myra gave them up reluctantly. She sat upright and realized she was exhausted. When the children rushed back in, Gillam struggling to climb onto the bed, Ginny said "I'll make us breakfast and we can eat in bed, how does that sound?"

Margie yelled "French toast!" Ginny said "Myra gets to choose, it's her welcome home breakfast."

As Myra leaned over and picked Gillam up, she said "I vote for french toast. With Ginny eggs."

Margie ran cheering toward the kitchen. Ginny leaned down for a long kiss and said "You want me to take him, too?"

"No" said Myra, clutching Gillam tight. "I need one of you in my arms all day."

"I'll fight him for my turn later" Ginny giggled. She went to the kitchen.

Myra lay back against the headboard and let Gillam sit on her chest. He kept watching her face in a little wonder.

"I missed you so much, honey" she said to him softly. He grinned at that and said "Two mamas. I have two mamas."

"That's absolutely right" said Myra. "Two mamas in the house again. Now, let me see if you still have five toes on this foot. I better count 'em out. This little piggy..."

After breakfast, Myra showered and dressed, then walked through the house carrying Gillam. As she climbed the stairs, she met Allie on the landing. They hugged for a long time, and Allie said "Do you return bathed in glory?"

"I don't know about that. But renewed, and desperate to be a family dyke again" said Myra.

"I will be glad to go home myself" grinned Allie.

"I owe you one."

"More than one. Come eat with me."

"We've eaten, but there's some left for you, and we'll sit with you, won't we, Gillam?"

As Allie filled her plate, she said "How is Chris?"

Ginny, curing the cast-iron griddle she'd just used, looked up to listen.

"She's okay. Better than okay, actually. She -- told me things I've never heard from her, and grieved, and prayed. We both had breakthroughs." Myra began telling them about her time in Arizona, and Ginny came to sit beside her, holding her hand. Gillam got down after a few minutes and trotted over to join Margie, who was trying to pick her way past Myra's suitcase locks in the living room.

When Myra was nearly done, she suddenly yelled "No, Margie!" Margie had taken an umbrella from the stand by the front door and was whacking one of the suitcases with it. Myra stood up and Margie put the umbrella away swiftly. Myra gave her a kiss on her forehead, then pulled out her keys and opened both suitcases. Allowing the children to root through the one that held only clothes, she rolled the other one to the table.

As she began pulling out bags and packages wrapped in brown paper, Gillam gave up on Margie's search for treasure and came back to the table, crawling into Ginny's lap. Myra sorted through the items in front of her. She set one aside with an embarrassed expression, saying "That's for -- later" to Ginny quietly. Ginny picked it up and tucked it into her back waistband. Next Myra opened a bag to reveal several bars of Ghirardelli chocolate, including a couple of small squares.

"Allie, take your pick of the bars" she said. She took the small squares and handed one to Gillam, who accepted it with delicate fingers, turning it this way and that to admire the shine of the foil. He clearly didn't recognize it as candy. Margie, however, looked up and charged like an elephant, yelling "Where's mine?"

Myra handed her the other square and said "Wash your hands afterward before you touch anything." She helped Gillam upwrap his square. Watching Margie gobble hers, he took a small bite of his square and grinned beatifically at Myra. She decided to wait on the rest of the gifts until the chocolate had been consumed and residue cleaned away. Returning from the bathroom with Margie, she brought a warm wet washcloth to wipe down Gillam.

"Can I have one of those bars?" asked Margie, spying the rest on the table.

"Nope, those are for Allie and other grown-ups" said Myra. "But, here's your big present, you and Gillam both."

She pulled from another bag two large rabbit puppets, rather realistic looking, with soft brown fur and long floppy ears. Margie crowed in delight as she snatched hers and immediately began hopping around the common rooms, yelling "I'm Jessica Rabbit!"

"Burn off that chocolate, that's it" said Ginny. Gillam was cuddling his bunny to his chest, treating it like a stuffed animal. After looking at Margie with hers crammed onto her arm, however, he explored his puppet and suddenly said "Mama, my wabbit has a vagina!"

The three adults erupted in laughter. Ginny said "Yes, she does. You can put your hand in here" -- which sent Myra off into howls -- "And make her move her mouth like she's talking, see?"

Ginny put the puppet on her own hand for a moment and had it say "You wascally wabbit!", then kiss Gillam on the cheek. He chortled and grabbed for it. He got down from her lap, then, to chase Margie's rabbit with his own.

As they screamed around the living room, Myra handed two paper-wrapped bundles to Allie. The first was a Poetry To the People t-shirt with a quote from June Jordan on the back.

"Rockin'!" said Allie. "I've never seen one of these."

"Me neither" said Myra.

When Allie opened the second package, a copy of Movement in Black by Pat Parker, she glanced up at Myra, then opened the cover and stared. "It's signed!" she said.

"I found it at a rare book store in Santa Cruz" said Myra.

"And you're giving it up?" said Allie.

"To you, of course" said Myra shyly. Allie leaned over and gave her a kiss, then began reading through the volume.

A small bag and a large box remained in front of Myra. Ginny said "I think I have my present already, don't I?" indicating the bulge in her waistband.

"I think that one is meant to be shared" said Allie drily, not looking up.

Myra brushed past this. She pushed the small bag over to Ginny. "Chris is who persuaded the woman to sell these to us; I didn't dare ask. They're from a fabulous potter on First Mesa, an old woman who either didn't speak English or didn't care to try."

Ginny pulled from the bag three small cartons which had once held yogurt. Inside each was a different colored pigment, looking much like a lump of clay.

"This one" said Myra, pointing, "is what makes a deep black color on pots. It's made from Rocky Mountain beeweed that is boiled down until it's gummy. This is red, which is from hematite. And this one is a white from kaolin."

Allie had put down her book and was leaning over, looking into the containers with Ginny.

"I wonder what these will look like on paper or canvas" said Ginny.

"I have no idea. But I thought you'd have fun experimenting. They are not available in any store, anywhere. These are the real deal, hand-made."

Ginny poked the black with her finger, then rubbed the transfer between her fingers, examining it closely. Allie did the same with the red.

"Oh, Myra, this is extraordinary" said Ginny finally. Her eyes were dark blue and luminous.

"So will be whatever you do with 'em" said Myra, grinning. "Here's her name, by the way." She pulled a slip of paper out of the bag. Then she began cutting the tape on the box. Inside, between layers of bubble wrap and a profusion of styrofoam peanuts, was a small object wrapped in terry cloth. Myra felt it, checking on condition, and looked relieved. She handed it reverently to Ginny.

Inside was a pot, black and white with red fill in places. The pot flared out to a lip but then closed back up to a small hole, only two inches across. The glaze was shiny, the form stunning.

"It's called polychrome" said Myra. "First Mesa is famous for it. They make them with the coil and scrape method, no potting wheels. It has to be fired with sheep dung, to make it come it right. After firing, she rubbed the shiny places with a small pebble to make the glaze gleam like that."

(Sikyatki polychrome Hopi jar from First Mesa, 15th to 17th century)

Ginny was speechless, turning the pot over and over in her hands, examining the tiniest detail of the design.

"It's not for food use, and I wouldn't store paint in it" said Myra unnecessarily. Margie ran up at that moment and lunged at Ginny with her puppet, saying "Talk to my bunny, Mama!"

Ginny lifted her pot into the air with a hiss, and Myra said "Come show me, Margie." As Myra chatted with Jessica Rabbit, and also Peter who hopped over with Gillam, Ginny continued to worship her pot.

Allie stood and carried her plate into the kitchen. Ginny finally said "This is -- beautiful beyond words, Myra."

"The only kind of art appropriate for you, Ginny" Myra replied. Ginny leaned over carefully and gave her a tender kiss. Then she carried her pot and pigments back to her studio, to find a place for them.

Allie said "I'm going to pack up my things and Bearsis, and we're going to head on home, if that's okay with you."

"How did Bearsis do here, with Alice and Juju?" asked Myra.

"The pet gate at the top of the stairs kept Juju out easily, and it was enough of a psychological barrier to Alice to keep her from invading, too" said Allie. "Bearsis spent a day or two huddled near the top of the stairs, muttering threats, but then finally he relaxed and really enjoyed the top deck."

"Glad to hear it. Need help packing?"

"No, I got it." Allie headed upstairs. Myra went to sit on the living room floor and play with her kids.

Mid October 1994 -- Gillam is 3.5, Margie is almost 6.

When Myra came in for breakfast, Ginny was loading the dishwasher. "When you're done with your dishes, run this, will you?" she asked. Myra nodded, putting potato bread in the toaster. Hannah came downstairs; they could hear the children riding trikes back and forth in the upstairs hallway because it was too rainy to go outside.

"Can I talk with you two for a minute?" Hannah asked. Myra grabbed a banana and sat down at the table with her and Ginny.

"My sister and her family are coming in from Pennsylvania" Hannah said "and staying at her in-laws' farm about an hour east of here. A farm with chickens and cows and an orchard. It's the weekend I usually have off, and I was going to ask for an extra day so I could go visit them the whole time she's here, three days..."

"We can swing that, sure" said Ginny.

"But my sister's children are Gillam and Margie's ages, just about, and I got the idea of taking them with me -- her sister-in-law's children are grown, so there'd be three of us women to care for the children. It would be good for my nieces to have playmates, and I'd love for my sister to meet these kids. I think they'd adore the farm. But it's three days. I'd switch out the next weekend as my official weekend off, if that would work for you -- Halloween weekend."

Myra and Ginny looked at each other. "How would you get there, drive?"

"Yes. I can let you talk with my sister and her in-laws, check them out, ask any questions about the farm. It's really safe and they are wonderful people, I've stayed there before."

"Three days" said Ginny.

"We'd leave on Friday morning and be back Sunday night, so technically it's only two nights away."

"I trust you, Hannah, that's not the issue. I'm just not sure they'd be able to handle that long of a separation. We can ask them, but I don't think either one of them is old enough to know what it meant until it happened" said Myra.

"In that case, if they get homesick or upset, and calling you isn't enough, I'd bring them back, no question. It's only an hour's drive" said Hannah.

"I'm really flattered that you want to" said Ginny. "It would be a godsend for us. We haven't had a weekend off in years."

"I know that" said Hannah, smiling.

"You're an angel, then" said Myra. "Well, let's talk to them, check it out."

"There's a Shetland pony there, leftover from the earlier children who are in college now. Elderly but apparently still gentle. Should I mention that?"

Ginny laughed. "You should lead with it, are you kidding?"

At lunch they floated the idea to the children. Margie began yelling yes instantly. Gillam was also enthusiastic until Myra repeated "We won't be with you, me and Mama. We will be here, and you will sleep there."

"Not in my bed?"

"No, in a bed there. With Margie and Hannah in the same room."

"All of us in the same room?" his face perked up.

Hannah nodded at him.

"And a pony!" said Margie. "I get to ride him first!"

"We can help milk cows, and feed the chickens, and gather eggs" said Hannah. "And they have apple trees we can pick apples from. Plus a big barn with piles of hay to play on."

"But we won't be there" said Myra again. "You would leave on Friday, and be gone that night, and all day Saturday, and Saturday night, and then come home on Sunday night."

"You'll be here?" he asked.

"Right here. Just like every weekend. And any time you want to call us, you can."

"I'm going to ride the pony while I feed the chickens" said Margie.

"You don't get to ride the pony all the time" objected Gillam. "You have to take turns."

"Can we get cowboy hats? Before we go?" asked Margie.

Ginny grinned at Myra. "I can guess your Mama is going to make that happen."

"I want a red hat" said Gillam.

"Are you sure you want to go, buddy?" asked Myra. He nodded vigorously.

"Okay, then. Hannah has to make plans, so we're all agreed on yes?" Both children kept nodding.

Ginny took Myra's hand. "Just you and me, Mama. Whatever will we do with ourselves?" Myra began laughing.

Myra got up early that Friday and made oatmeal with cranberries for everybody while Ginny did last minute packing checks. Both the children were wearing overalls and turtlenecks, with their wellies and new cowboy hats. Myra let them have brown sugar as well as butter on their oatmeal, and before breakfast was over, she got the camera and took several photos of them. Finishing one roll, she gave the camera and three new rolls of film to Hannah, saying "Take pictures of everything."

They walked out to the car, Myra buckling Gillam into his car seat, Ginny getting Margie settled into the seat beside him. They placed a bag full of books, games, dolls and puzzles between them. Myra had already put a hamper full of snacks in the front seat, even though Ginny pointed out it was just an hour's drive.

Hannah hugged Myra and said "I'm really honored that you're trusting me this way". Myra began to reconsider, but Ginny took her arm and said "Shut the door, honey." Hannah promised to call as soon as they got there, again that evening and Saturday before bedtime, and before they left to come home. As Hannah's car backed out of the driveway, Ginny and Myra waved wildly, blowing kisses and making the "I love you" sign. Once they were out of sight, around the corner, Myra began crying.

Ginny held her and said "I know. It's going to be okay, I promise."

Myra said "It's our whole life, in that car. What if -- " She couldn't finish the sentence.

"Don't go there, Myra. They are going to have an adventure, and come back newly appreciative of us, that's all that's going to happen."

"You're only 38, Ginny. You could have another baby, we could have another baby in the house -- "

Ginny snorted incredulously. "Good god, Myra, I can't believe you're suggesting I go through pregnancy again!"

"Well, I'm not 40 yet, I'll do it, then, if you're going to insinuate I don't do my share!"

"Myra...No. We have two children, two are plenty. All children grow up, we can't replace them with new babies indefinitely." Ginny was laughing, and wiping Myra's cheeks. "Come on, let's go in the house."

It was very quiet inside. Myra turned on the stereo, putting in a Casselberry and Dupree tape. Ginny stripped down and set a new canvas on her easel.

"Are you going to spend the whole weekend painting?" asked Myra.

"No, I will also be ordering take-out from places the children don't like and making love with you at frequent intervals" said Ginny. "What's your plan?"

"Well, some of what you just said" said Myra, grinning finally. "Are we going to hole up away from our friends, too?"

"Let's do, just this once. And I have a request to make: Can we have a nudity weekend? I never get to see you completely naked around the house. I'll turn the thermostat up so you won't get cold." Ginny had a pleading note in her voice. Myra pulled off her shirt, and Ginny cheered. Myra let Ginny unzip her pants and pull them down to her ankles for her.

Once completely bare, Myra folded her clothes and put them in the bedroom while Ginny adjusted the thermostat. Then they went into the back of the house. Myra sat down at her desk and put a sheet of paper in her typewriter. Ginny leaned over her from behind, kissing her ear and fondling her breasts.

"Not yet" said Myra. "Go paint." Ginny laughed and went into her studio.

When Hannah called at 9:00 a.m. to say they'd arrived, Myra had three pages of outline for something she didn't know what to call yet. She answered the phone distractedly, then came back to focus when she heard Margie's yells in the background.

"They're fine, they're already chasing ducks in the side yard" said Hannah. "I'll see if I can get them to come over and talk to you."

"No, that's okay. If they don't need us yet, that's good. But if at any point they want to call -- "

"We will. Greg is saddling up the pony right now, so I need to go keep them corralled until then. We'll call tonight for sure."

"Thank you, Hannah, for it all."

When she hung up, she called to Ginny "Pony rides about to commence."

"Margie the broncbuster makes her debut" said Ginny.

Myra put a fresh sheet of paper in her typewriter. By 1 p.m., she had been writing without a pause for four hours. She finally reached a shift in the story, what might be a chapter break, she thought. She picked up the stack of pages on her desk beside the typewriter and counted them: 21. She wasn't used to writing fiction, but she thought maybe that was an unusual output.

She suddenly felt drained, as if waking up from a vampire feeding at her neck. She went in the kitchen, got a glass of milk, and came back to her daybed, leaning against the wall and beginning to read through her 21 pages.

The silence from her IBM finally got through to Ginny. Ginny looked around the corner, wiping her brush, sweat glistening on her face and shoulders, and said "Are you hungry?"

"Could be. Are you?" said Myra, not looking up from her reading.

Ginny didn't answer but walked into the kitchen. Myra didn't notice anything until Ginny was back in front of her, holding the leather harness that fit Myra and their new Babes in Toyland double dildo. Myra blinked, and looked into Ginny's face. The expression in Ginny's eyes made Myra grin.

"Open up to me, sweetheart" said Ginny quietly. Myra set the pages on her desk and leaned back, parting her thighs. Ginny knelt on the floor in front of her and nibbled down one of Myra's thighs, then the other, taking occasional sniffs of Myra's mound. All the lights in this end of the house were on, and there was not a single sound except the ticking of Myra's desk clock.

Ginny used the thumbs of both hands to gently traction apart Myra's labia. Myra closed her eyes and breathed out. In the next moment, she felt the melt of Ginny's mouth full on her, Ginny using her lips to navigate Myra's rills. Myra cried out and shifted to give Ginny more room. She could tell Ginny was making sounds because she felt the percussion from Ginny's mouth on her.

After a while, Ginny pushed her right thumb into Myra, pressing the heel of her hand against Myra's inner thigh so her thumb was as far in as it could go. She kept stroking Myra with her tongue. Myra was breathing in jerks and, every few seconds, saying "Ginny...Ginny..."

After another while, just before Myra reached the start of the spiral, as she thought of it, Ginny leaned back, her face wet, her eyes completely dark blue, an angelic smile on her face. She took the dildo and wet it in Myra's juices thoroughly, first the longer half, then the shorter half. She put the end of the shorter half at the opening to Myra's vagina and said "Here I come." Myra's hips rose to meet the entry, her moaning outright. Ginny went partly in and out a few times, adjusting fit. Then she slid the harness over the dildo and began fastening straps on Myra, a look of concentration on her face that Myra never saw at any other time besides lovemaking.

Once everything was snug, Myra scooted to the edge of the daybed so she could stand up and let Ginny lie down. But Ginny pushed her back a few inches, then put her hands on Myra's shoulders for balance and slowly straddled Myra's lap. With her hands behind Myra's neck, she looked down into the space between them and carefully maneuvered herself until the tip of the dildo was at the opening to her own vagina. She pushed forward half an inch and stopped, her eyes closed, her face intent. Myra put her mouth over Ginny's breast.

As Myra sucked Ginny's breasts, Ginny crept forward, half an inch at a time. After each progression, she stopped to breathe through her mouth and look down at Myra's face with open eyes. By the time Myra was all the way inside her, she was deeper than she had ever been in Ginny, more than Ginny usually liked. Ginny flexed the muscles of her thighs around Myra's back and whispered "Don't move, okay? Let me do all the moving."

No matter what Ginny did, Myra could tell she might come soon. She wanted to keep this going as long as possible. She transferred her hands from Ginny's irresistible ass to her lower back, so she would not be tempted to rock Ginny. But every motion of her upper torso moved her deep inside Ginny, and with every movement, Ginny gasped.

"I love you like nothing else on earth" whispered Ginny. She lifted Myra's chin so they could stare into each other's eyes. Even Myra's breathing moved her deep inside Ginny. "It's right at the edge of what I can bear." Myra thought Ginny meant more than one thing. She kissed Ginny, and Ginny arched onto her slightly, moaning.

"Myra...Remember when, our first night here, I asked you if you still wanted me...You went out of the room, and when you came back, you put your fingertip to mine and said 'I choose you.' Remember that?"

"Yes" breathed Myra.

"I want you to do that every day for the rest of our lives. I want you to keep choosing me, with that look on your face." Ginny's breathing was getting jagged. She kept flexing and unflexing her calf muscles against Myra's lower back, a small motion that must be magnified inside her.

Myra looked into Ginny's eyes. "I choose you, Ginny Bates. You and me."

Ginny's pupils were completely dark. Her moans were continuous now, and she was pressed fiercely against Myra. Every time Ginny flexed her legs, Myra felt Ginny moving inside her. She couldn't keep from sliding over the edge any longer. She began saying urgently "Ginny -- Ginny, now, Ginny". But Ginny was coming, too. She gave a single thrust, gasped loudly and stopped herself. Cascades rolled through them both, and they struggled to stay still in the wash, which only made it more intense.

Ginny began making sounds that were half laughing, half crying. Myra's face was pressed into her neck, and she could feel Ginny's pulse underneath her open mouth. Ginny finally settled on laughing, which she also tried to stifle, to keep from moving Myra deep inside her. Myra began laughing, too, and they had to pull a little apart then, it was too much for Ginny.

After a minute, Ginny grinned "Well" and slid off Myra's lap, bending down to kiss her at the moment of separation. Myra lay back joyfully on the daybed, and Ginny lay half on top of her, pulling the blanket from the foot over them both, still laughing.

"According to studies" said Ginny, "You and I are in our sexual prime."

"Can't argue with that" said Myra.

"You're going to be 40 next summer" said Ginny. "We'll have to throw a Prime of Life party."

Myra breathed for a bit, then said "You know I love our children more than words can express..."

"Yes?" said Ginny.

"But we need more time alone" finished Myra. She felt Ginny nod her head on Myra's shoulder.

"What are you writing, My?" asked Ginny.

"I think it might be a book" said Myra, hesitantly. "I don't think it's just a story. There's too much inside me still to come out."

"What's it about?"

"A human colony in the constellation of Alhena. A group of settlers on a planet that is almost all water, except for a scatter of islands on either side near the equator. They call the planet Skene, and because of circumstances beyond their control, their colony gets forgotten about. They wind up on their own, and develop their own culture."

"Skene" Ginny giggled. "Like the gland?"

"Most people think it refers to the configuration of the archipelago, which is like a skein of yarn. But yes, those of us in the know are aware it's Skene."

"You dirty girl."

"You oughta know."

"Wow, sci-fi. Where did this come from, Myra?"

"I don't know. It feels like it's been building up for ages, because there's a torrent waiting to come out. I haven't been consciously thinking about it, but once I wrote the first paragraph, I realized I had -- well, I think it's a whole book, inside my head."

Ginny shivered once, in excitement. "Can I read it?"

"Not yet. Let me get a bigger stack of it written first, so it won't drain away. -- How about you, how is this new painting?"

Ginny leaned up on an elbow and looked at Myra. "Like nothing I've ever done." She looked a little afraid. They stared at each other for a while. Then Ginny said "I really am hungry."

"Well, you just took me, Ginny, that requires vitamin replenishment" giggled Myra. "Let's go make eggs and fruit salad."

"And croissants!" said Ginny.

They got up and realized Myra was still in harness. Ginny helped her get unbuckled and they left the dildo on the daybed. No children in the house.

After their late lunch, they went back to their respective work. Myra took a deep breath and put another piece of paper into her typewriter. Absolutely nothing else needed doing. She began hitting keys.

At 8:00, the phone ringing startled her so much she jumped. As she answered it, she noticed Alice asleep on her daybed next to the harness. Gillam's voice cut through her laughter: "Mama, I rode a pony just like a traildriver, Greg said!"

"Wow, I'm so proud of you, honey." Ginny poked her head around the corner and Myra motioned her over. Ginny plugged in the extension and they talked with the children for a few minutes. When they hung up, both beaming, Myra realized she was painfully stiff. She stood up and stretched. Her ass was sweaty from the leather seat on her chair.

Ginny grabbed a handful of delivery menus and said "How about Thai?"

"Mmm, yes. Something with coconut milk and curry so hot it makes my throat close up."

"Let's get extra, soups and noodles and whatever strikes our fancy -- we can have it for breakfast" said Ginny.

"Or midnight snacks. Why sleep? -- I don't have to get up for anything tomorrow."

As Ginny made the call, Myra counted her pages again. Twenty-five more. Holy crap, no wonder she was stiff.

"Ginny, if I go sit in the hottub, will you answer the door for the food? Wearing clothes, need I remind you."

"I want to be in the hottub with you" said Ginny.

"Well, then... I'll go use the toilet, since I haven't done that either today. And feed the animals, Juju is telling me, I see. After dinner gets here, we'll load up plates and eat in the hottub, how's that?"

"You gotten over wanting that new baby yet?" grinned Ginny.

"Oh, hush."

Food plus the long soak made Myra drowsy, so when they came back in, she lay down on her daybed, putting the harness on her desk, and curled up under a blanket. Ginny turned off all the lights except the spot over her easel, and Myra slept for a couple of hours. When she woke up, she got a bowl of coconut pudding and some sticky pancakes from the dessert she'd skipped earlier and sat on Ginny's daybed, watching her paint.

"Have you had a break?" she asked.

"Hmmm? No."

Myra stood up and fed Ginny bites of dessert, watching the expression on her face as Ginny saw things that nobody else did on a canvas. She gave her drinks of water, leaning in for a kiss after the last one. Ginny kissed her perfunctorily, then turned her head and looked at Myra, her eyes almost fathomless, and came back for a second, more serious kiss.

"Are you going to sleep some more? Don't go to bed, sleep in here with me. I'll come join you when I need to rest" Ginny asked.

"I'm going back to the book right now. What an amazing thing to be saying, the book." Myra stared at Ginny with a wondering expression. "But yes, when I sleep, it'll be in here."

Myra read through, again, what she had written so far, making corrections in red ink. She picked up the outline and added another page to it of insertions. Then she rolled a fresh page in her carriage.

As the light outside began a slight hint of changing, they both stopped. Ginny went to the bathroom and Myra got them glasses of water. They lay down on Myra's daybed, Ginny spooning Myra, and went to sleep immediately.

When the phone rang five hours later, the room was awash in light. Myra answered it dopily. Allie said "Hey, you still asleep?"

"I was up most of the night. Writing" said Myra.

"Hot damn. Poetry express, huh?"

"No, I seem to have started a book."

"Fiction? Hot diggity damn. Well, should I let you go back to sleep or would you like to meet me for lunch? Since you're not a mother this weekend."

"Can I get a raincheck? I don't think I can leave the house, not with this writing jag I'm on."

"Okey-doke. I'm guessing Ginny's similarly obsessed with her world o'art, am I right?"

"I'll let you talk with her. Love you, Al" Myra handed the phone to Ginny and went to the bathroom. When she returned, the receiver was back in the cradle and Ginny lifted the blanket, welcoming her in beside her. She lay down and Ginny slid on top of her. Myra woke up completely, in a fever of desire. After kissing a few minutes, Myra said "Turn around." Ginny burrowed under the blanket and buried her face in Myra's yoni as she lowered her hips onto Myra's face. Myra spread her hands on Ginny's ass and pulled her tight against her open mouth. She could hear Ginny's cries, muffled through Ginny's thighs. She didn't feel able to be measured, she was too eager for Ginny's taste and swell. Fortunately, Ginny seemed to be in a hurry, also.

For breakfast at noon they had fiery crab cakes with noodles and a deeply sour soup. Myra got some of the sticky rice from the fridge just to cool the burn on her tongue. She and Ginny sat at the table side by side, each of them eating one-handed so they could hold hands. They were silent, except for the sounds of chewing. As Ginny put away the leftovers, Myra brushed her teeth and met her as she headed back for her easel. They kissed lingeringly, and Myra said "I choose you, Ginny." Ginny's face melted with happiness.

By sunset Myra had a hundred pages stacked by her typewriter. Ginny came and sat down on the daybed, saying "My feet are hurting."

"Your shoulders look hunched, too. Let's give each other back rubs."

With muscle aches relieved, they looked in the fridge and decided there wasn't quite enough leftovers to make a meal. They ordered kungpao shrimp, paper-wrapped chicken, dry braised green beans and brown rice from a Chinese restaurant. Myra put on pants and a shirt to answer the door this time. Ms. Schevitz from across the street waved at her as the delivery guy walked away. She waved back, then came in saying "We forgot about shabbos. And nobody took challah over to Ms. Schevitz."

Ginny looked contrite. "I'll apologize to her later, take her something yummy."

They ate ravenously, then went and sat in the hottub another half hour. They were just coming back into the house when the phone rang, the children calling from their utopia. Both of them still sounded just fine. Margie said she had climbed so far up an apple tree they had to get a ladder to help her down, which made Myra's stomach turn over. Gillam said he held five baby chicks at once in his lap, and reeled off the names he had given them -- Little, Fluffy, Peeper, Sunny, and Sunny.

"Why are two named Sunny?" laughed Myra.

"One is Sunny like the sun in the sky and one is Sonny like I'm your son" said Gillam.

Hannah said they would be home by 7 p.m. the next day. After they hung up, Ginny said "It doesn't feel like they've been gone that long."

"I know. I hate to say it, but I could use another day."

Myra came in to sit on Ginny's daybed as she read through her pages and reworked the outline. When she glanced at Ginny's palette, it seemed to be covered in minutely distinctive shades of red. She looked over at the workbench, and there were at least two dozen tubes with red labels on them, plus another dozen pots of pigment all containing reddish hues. Well, that was different.

Myra wrote until midnight. Finally her back couldn't take any more abuse. She stood up with a sharp pain in her lumbar area and did some easy stretches. She went to the fridge and got a giant bowl of ice cream, sprinkled blueberries on it, and came to stand beside Ginny, feeding her every other bite. She was, for the first time in ages, sorely tempted to sneak a peak at Ginny's canvas -- her palette was still a flurry of small patches of red. But she didn't abuse Ginny's trust.

After empyting the bowl, she coaxed Ginny back out to the hottub. A misty rain was falling, and they turned their faces up to it while soaking in blissfully hot water to their necks. Ginny said "I haven't been around this much quiet since 1988."


Once dried off, Myra lay down on Ginny's daybed. Ginny looked torn. Finally she turned off the lights and curled into Myra's arms, saying "Just an hour or two." But they both slept until past dawn. It wasn't the light waking them up, it was Juju who had not been fed the night before and stood up at the edge of the bed, whining nervously.

"Oh, poor puppy" said Ginny. She walked flatfooted into the kitchen and gave Juju a double breakfast. Alice's bowl was empty, too. Myra joined her and said "I could use the extra rice and string beans and make egg fried rice."

"I'll cut up some fruit, too."

After breakfast, Myra took a shower and sat back at her desk. She had forgotten what it was like to wear clothes. She took a deep breath and started a new sheet. By this time, the characters felt like people she actually knew. They were telling her what to put down for their dialogue, overriding her plans for their character development. She laughed sometimes at what came out of their mouths. She was a little in love with the tall dark woman who was telling the story.

At noon, Myra went to the bathroom and then looked in the fridge. Their leftovers were again just scraps. She pulled a boboli from the freezer, drizzled it with olive oil, then spread sliced tomatoes, mushrooms, leaves of basil, garlic and a thick layer of fresh mozzarella over it. While it baked, she made a small salad of bibb lettuce, grated carrots and canned white beans. She filled two bottles with water and carried plates in to Ginny, who was now beginning to hum under her breath. Ginny never made eye contact as Myra fed her. She did take one bottle of water from Myra's hand and drain it dry, then handed it back.

Myra cleaned the kitchen, picked up all the mail from the entryway, and watered the upstairs plants. She stopped and looked into the children's room, and felt a sudden ache. Back at her desk, she picked up her stack, now almost 200 pages, and read it one more time. She had reached the end of her outline. This was a first draft. It wasn't complete, there was much more to go in and no doubt much to come out, but the meat of it was there. She felt lightheaded when she finished. It was good; it was really good, and she still didn't know where it had come from.

She clipped the manuscript together and went into Ginny's studio. Ginny was dripping sweat onto the floor, and her hum was loud now. Myra set her manuscript under the daybed and lay down, pulling the blanket over her, watching Ginny around the edges of the canvas. Ginny was not laying down big licks of paint now; she was mostly looking, finding some tiny thing to do, leaning in for that detail, then looking again for long minutes. Her brow was creased in fierce concentration. Myra wanted her most at times like this, when Ginny was utterly remote.

Just before 3:00, Ginny stepped back for the last time. She stopped humming and said "Huh." She put the brush between her teeth, set down her palette, and leaned back with crossed arms, staring at her work. After another minute, she said "Huh" again around the brush, then took it out of her mouth and put it into a jar of turpentine. Another minute of looking, then her focus changed. She looked around the canvas at Myra, who was grinning. Ginny's face relaxed from her scowl into a grin, too.

She walked to the daybed and flung herself on top of Myra, kissing her slowly and thoroughly. Myra managed to get the blanket over them both and then Ginny onto her back, still kissing. She put her knee between Ginny's and spread her thighs, running her hand along the creases at the top of Ginny's thighs but not quite reaching her vulva. Back and forth, pausing at the back to cup Ginny's buttocks in her palms, then rubbing them with her thumb, then returning to the front.

Ginny was moaning by the time Myra finally used all the fingers of her hand to spread her labia and stroke the heel of her palm up and down Ginny's drench. She lightly smoothed her fingers across the upper part of Ginny's vulva, then circled her clitoris with her forefinger. At the same time she put the thumb of her other hand inside Ginny. Ginny was crying out into Myra's mouth. Myra let her come quickly -- Ginny must be exhausted. She gasped and writhed, clamping her thighs around Myra's wrist, and said "Myra" over and over.

Myra stopped when Ginny said "No more". She rolled to her back and pulled Ginny on top of her. Ginny was still trying to catch her breath. She lay her head on Myra's shoulder, her arms tight around Myra's back, and then relaxed. Within a minute she was sound asleep.

Myra didn't move for an hour. She thought about how, if they lived to be old, they had decades ahead of them together. By the time they were sixty, they would have been together as long as they had lived apart. She really didn't believe most people had this kind of connection. Something about the two of them was singular. Their rhythms matched. They found the same things funny, they liked sex the same way, they needed each other the same amount. Given her history, she didn't think it was possible she had worked her way to this kind of relationship, to being able to pick this well. It was another stroke of luck, far greater than winning the lottery. It was the luck of the century. Suddenly she understood why she was now writing science fiction -- nothing else could contain the magic she had inside her, a magic that came from Ginny's love.

When Myra finally shifted to the side, Ginny woke up. Her face was dreamy and sweet. She said in a voice husky from fatigue "Do you want to see it?"

Myra just rolled her eyes. Giggling, Ginny got up and turned around the easel. Myra didn't look until Ginny was back beside her.

It was her grandmother, Hettie.

Hettie in her tweed suit, with a bowler on her head and a cigar in her hand, leaned back in a curve, laughing uproariously. Her vest had stripes of gold that shone from the canvas. The nap of her jacket stood up, and the bulge of hip beneath her pants looked touchable. The fire at the end of her cigar seemed to raise up from the canvas. Myra sat up to stare at it, and realized it was actually convex. As she moved, it flickered in the afternoon light.

She pointed and said "How -- "

Ginny laughed triumphantly. "I got a diamond crushed at the bead store, a real diamond, until it was just grains. I built up the layers of diamond dust and clear adhesive; there's gilt underneath, reflecting up through the facets."

Myra gaped at her. When she looked back at the painting, finally able to focus on something besides Hettie, she realized the entire background was red. But not a single red -- it was minute rays of different shades of red, radiating out from Hettie, not in a complete aurora but in kirlian kinds of lines. No two slivers of red were exactly the same, ranging from almost purple to almost pink to almost orange.

Years later, in college, Margie would get an expensive digital copy of this painting made and then spend most of a day with a magnifying glass, patiently counting the different strokes of red. Her count became the official one in future writing about Hettie: 738 different kinds of red.

Myra burst into tears. Ginny held her and whacked her on the back periodically in exultation. When Myra was quiet again, Ginny said "See what happens if I get to go until it's finished?"

"I do see" said Myra. "This is the best thing you've ever done."

"You say that every time" laughed Ginny.

"It's true every time, but this time -- this is different. On a whole other level. This is -- unimaginable."

Ginny was flushed with happiness. "Except I did imagine it. It's your ancestry, Myra. This one is for you, and our line from here on out."

"Our blended lines. Our red, red lines." Myra kissed her in wonder.

Ginny said "Now, you. Show me."

Myra fished out the manuscript. "I don't think I can bear to sit here while you read it" she said.

"Go get in the hottub then. I'll come out there when I'm done." Ginny leaned against the wall, her eyes on the first page.

An hour later, Myra heard the sliding door open. She was afraid to look at Ginny, afraid it wasn't really good. But Ginny dropped into the water beside her and grabbed her in a bear hug. "Oh my fucking GOD. I don't want to be done with it, tell me there'll be more."


"Oh, Myra, it's exquisite. I was there, I lived on those ocean-haunted islands. The women are -- they're like us, but they're not. It's what we could become, isn't it? And the men, after the DNA starts altering...I kept thinking about Gillam."

"Exactly!" said Myra.

"And the different island names, oh, angel, how did you ever come up with those? Some of them I recognize from Spanish, like Escollo and Secano, but are the rest in other languages? Like, where did you get Pulo? Or Hynys?"

"Tagalog and Welsh. For island."

"Well, what about the towns and villages, the geographic names? Are those foreign languages too? Like Esker, or Tolt, or Glebe?"

"English. Just not used very often any more. Like Rimple and Insula."

"You have to let me draw the map of this place, Myra. I can see them of them already -- the Shatters, the tillages spilling down from the Rucks, and the Flings, those little islands that can hold only one family -- " Ginny hugged her again in excitement. "Myra. We have to make a change. We have to find a way to let this happen more often."

"Well, I guess at least once a month, when Hannah has the children for a weekend, we could -- I don't know, check into a hotel? With all our gear?"

"Maybe. But the thing is, you already run interference for me. I mean, yes, this particular weekend did make it possible for me to do 'Hettie'. Still, I'm producing regularly, and it's because you pick up the slack while we're all still here. We have to figure out a way to do that for you, too."

"It's almost impossible for me to say no to the children for several hours at a stretch."

"I know. But if we take turns -- If we make your study off limits for four hours a day, every day except weekends -- wouldn't that make a difference? I could take the mornings, you could take the afternoons as children-free time."

"It'll be hard on them. They're used to more than that, Ginny."

"Let's think of it as part-time jobs. I work in the mornings, you work in the afternoons. They still have a nanny plus one mother available. At dinnertime, we're both off work for the evening. And they have us most weekends. They're not babies any more, you know."

"Four hours every afternoon...I could really use it if I'm going to be writing fiction, big chunks of text."

"We'll get a screen for your desk area, to give you a third wall."

"I don't get up until 9, I don't want to have to start my mornings early."

"You won't. I like getting up, I'll have breakfast with them, then start work at 8:00. Hannah can handle them alone for an hour. You get up at nine and have them until noon. We all eat lunch for an hour. Then you go off at 1:00 and work until 5:00. Eight to five, just like other people."

"Let's try it, Ginny. Oh, my, god, what a weekend it's been."

"Speaking of which -- we should think about straightening up and starting dinner, the kids will be back by 7 but they could be early."

"Let's invite Allie, and Chris and Sima, for dinner tonight. Show 'em the new stuff."

They got out of the hottub and scampered through the cold air into the overheated house. Myra reluctantly got dressed, and turned down the thermostat. Ginny made calls and put away the dildo on Myra's desk.

Myra went to the freezer in the storage room and got out steelhead and scallops. She put baking potatoes in the oven and made a corn souffle while the seafood was defrosting. Ginny joined her to make salad, dressing, and stuffed mushrooms. While Ginny marinated the main courses, Myra made mint brownies, a special treat for the children.

At 6:30, the front door flew open and Margie galloped in. Ginny ran around the breakfast to grab her and swing her up in the air. Gillam was thirty seconds later, the time it took to get him out of his car seat. Myra met him in the living room, and as soon as he saw her, he burst into tears, rushing into her arms. She picked him up and held him close. He was crying brokenheartedly. Ginny came to them and put her arms around them both. "What's wrong, baby, what's wrong?" she said.

"I missed you so bad" he wailed. "When I woke up, you was never there!"

Hannah had come in the door and looked distraught. "He never said a word about it, I thought he was fine" she said.

"It likely came and went" said Ginny.

"He's too little, it was just a bit too long for him" said Myra. "We didn't know it, and he didn't know it until he saw us. It's okay, Gillam, we won't do this again until you know you're ready. It's okay, we're all together now." Her heart was breaking, too.

He had stopped crying by the time Allie arrived, but Myra didn't put him down. She cradled him as if he was a baby again, and he was content to be pressed against her, his arms around her neck. Ginny finished the dinner, and Allie played with Margie. When Chris and Sima arrived, they all went back to the studio and viewed the new painting. Allie was speechless, and could not stop peering in for a gnats-eye view of the cigar fire. Finally she said "How much did that diamond cost you?"

Ginny looked around nervously at Myra. She whispered to Allie, and Allie said "Holy moly!"

Myra laughed. "Worth it. Totally worth it."

Ginny came to kiss her and Gillam. "After dinner, we have a reading. Or part of a reading, we can't get through it all tonight. Myra's new book!"

Gillam leaned back, then, to look at Myra. "You wrote a book?" he asked.

"A first draft. You're gonna like it. The boys in it are all like you" she said.

His face lit up. "You wrote about me, while I was gone?"

"I cried when you left, Gillam" she said, kissing him. He kissed her back, then said "You can put me down now."

She wasn't ready, but she set him on the floor. He ran off to find his cowboy hat.

The next Sunday afternoon, Myra was making pumpkin bread and caramel apples after bringing the kids home from Quaker meeting. They were sitting at the breakfast bar, itchily awaiting the results of her cooking. Ginny had left them all a note, saying she was going shopping. Just as Myra was handing each child a sticky warm apple, exhorting them to absolutely not get down from the stool until they were done and she had wiped them off, the front door swung open widely. Juju gave a dutiful bark but dove under the dining table immediately. A big slab of peeling wood seemed to be marching in the door, blocking the light.

As Myra stared, the wood turned to the side, revealing Ginny trying to womanhandle in a large folding room divider. Myra wiped her hands and rushed to help. They got it into the living room and standing on its own. As Myra shut the door, Ginny stood back and said "Look what I found at the used furniture store!"

Myra looked. The wood was intact, but the finish, which had been plain to begin with, was wrecked by stains and mildew. The hinges between the three panels were flaking rust, and there was a definite pong coming from the object. Myra stayed back from it. She looked at Ginny and said "How much did you pay?" in a dubious voice.

"I know, it's funky, but the wood is okay underneath. I'm going to strip it down, replace the hinges, and paint it. It's for your study!"

"Wow. Okay, let's get it out of here, the mildew is already starting to get to me."

Myra and Ginny hauled it to the back and set it on the concrete pad by the pool. Ginny put the vinyl cover over the hot tub and then rooted through the storage room until she found the wire brush she had used for earlier refinishing projects.

"Did you have lunch?" asked Myra.

"Yeah, I grabbed a snack" said Ginny, walking around the divider, deciding where to start.

"Gin, put on old clothes first" reminded Myra.

Ginny followed her into the house. The children were done with their apples and would need shirt changes, at the very least. Myra hustled them upstairs to their bathroom, saying "No putting your hands on the floor or the railing, no, Margie!"

Ginny scraped and sanded until it was almost dinnertime. Myra started a big pot of beef bourgignon and a smaller pot of fava beans. Then she played nerf basketball in the upstairs hall with the children until their sugar high was worn off. Twice they took breaks to go into their bedroom and gaze at their costumes for the following night of trick-or-treating, making sure they were still perfect.

Margie was going as a ninja witch, with an assemblage of black tights, karate jacket, pointed hat, and a gratuitous tail that she said was essential. Gillam had asked to be The Highwayman, and Myra had shelled out for a maroon velvet tailed coat, frilly lace shirt and black velvet breeches, hand-made by Belva. The tricorn hat and breechlock pistol she'd found at a costume store. The pistol caused a brief fight between her and Ginny, until Myra pointed out the trigger didn't move. She suspected that would make no difference to Gillam pretending to shoot somebody, but Ginny allowed herself to be mollified by it. Ginny had crafted gilt-covered buckles for his black tennies. Myra could hardly stand how dashing he looked in it all.

Myra left the children playing with giant floor puzzles and returned to the kitchen to make millet, collards, and creamed peas to round out dinner. Allie arrived early and set the table, chatting to Myra about her negotiations with a children's book publisher for another cover. When Chris and Sima walked in, Myra leaned out the sliding door and said to Ginny over the whine of the sander "Five minutes till dinner."

Ginny pulled off her mouth mask and said "Ten, I need to shower." She unplugged the sander and set it just inside the door as she breezed through the kitchen to their bathroom.

Myra called upstairs "Margie, Gillam, all your aunties are here!" The children clattered downstairs, and Myra grated a little pecorino for the fava beans as the kids played with Chris and Sima.

After dinner, Ginny helped the children get into their costumes to model them for everyone while Myra packed up a loaf of pumpkin bread and some leftover beef bourgignon for Ms. Schevitz, to be carried over by the children.

Chris asked "Why is the upper shelf of your sideboard covered with trays of caramel apples? Did you get compulsive?"

Myra laughed. "No, I'm going to put baggies over them and hand them out to trick-or-treaters. Ginny insists we not give candy, and last year's little travel toothbrushes didn't go over very big."

"Won't parents not let their kids eat something homemade?" asked Sima.

"I made labels with my name and phone number to put on each bag. Are you two coming over to make the neighborhood rounds with the kids?" said Myra.

"Nah, we have a grown-up party to attend" said Chris.

"I'll be here" said Allie.

"Good, then one of us can stay home and answer the door. We'll have to duke out which one gets to go around with the kids" Ginny said, grinning at Myra.

"That's good-looking wood you've exposed on that divider" said Chris, looking out the glass wall. "How are you going to stain it?"

"I'm going to paint it, actually. I want to do a giant map of Skene, the islands and the ocean around it, from Myra's book" said Ginny.

Myra was astonished. "Really?"

Allie, with a wry smile, said "I was going to ask if I could do the map, and other illustrations. When the time came."

There was a sudden silence in the room, then Chris burst out laughing.

Myra stood up and said "I'm going to check on the kids at Ms. Schevitz's, make sure they're not bothering her." She was out the door in a second.

Ginny and Allie finally began laughing, too. "Well, she's not gonna be able to make that decision, is she?" said Allie.

"I just hope she comes back tonight" said Ginny.

"I have a suggestion to make" said Sima. They all looked at her. "Why don't the two of you collaborate on the screen, find out what it's like to work together and also see what your respective visions are for the illustration? Then you'll have concrete information about whether you could maybe cooperate or, if not, who would be best to do what. Only -- do try to include Myra in the process, it is her idea, after all."

Ginny and Allie looked at each other, grinning, and nodded. Allie said "I'm way better at drawing people of color faces than you, debutante, and this planet is not whitebread."

Ginny retorted "But I'm sleeping with the author".

The following Wednesday evening, after the children were in bed, Myra, Ginny and Allie were sitting at the dining table, talking over the Skene map project.

"Now what exactly is happening with the Skeners' chromosomes?" said Ginny. "Do you have any real science behind your idea?"

"You mean, aside from the lesbian parthenogenesis wave of the mid 70s?" grinned Myra. "Yeah, actually. It does look like mammals, all mammals, may be evolving from a two-gender system to some other means of reproduction. What's called male and female in a lot of other organisms on earth isn't really that. I'm thinking on Skene, because of the mandate toward cooperation and no-impact environmental concerns, XX or XXY becomes evolutionarily favored."

"XXY -- would we see that as male or female? Through our cultural lens?" asked Allie.

"Something different, fluid" said Myra. "Like -- " she paused.

"Don't say Michael Jackson" warned Allie.

Myra laughed. "No, think Jamie Lee Curtis. Or Linda Hamilton in Terminator II."

"Oooh baby" said Allie.

"But only 25% of the population at the time of the book is XXY, and the numbers haven't stopped dropping yet. It's an XX culture" said Myra.

"Estrogenia" said Ginny. "There's a place name you could use. Speaking of which -- what does that patch of the ocean, Morrie Strati, mean?"

"Latin for thick sea. It's where the leviathans congregate. Not clear whether it's thick because of something they're doing to the water, extruding maybe, or it's a naturally occurring ocean difference to which they are drawn. Haven't made up my mind yet about the leviathans."

"There's no clear description of what they look like" said Allie.

"Yeah, I haven't made my mind up about that, either. Why don't both of you sketch some ideas and we can talk it over then" said Myra.

"Why is there more than one Morrie Vaseo, East, West, etc.?" asked Ginny.

"It's a corruption, over time, of a phrase that originally meant sea of passage. It's the small, non-leviathan-occupied seas between islands that are safe for boats to travel. Here, I've got a page of notes on the meanings of some things. And the beginning of a dictionary. But don't lose that, it's my only copy."

"And is there a matching set of islands on the other side of the planet, or is that just a legend?" asked Allie.

Myra grinned. "State secret. No, I'm kidding you. I'm pretty sure there is another archipelago, I'm thinking it would be a good plot development for them to manage to get lofters that can make it far enough to land there. Another culture to grow up. Without our process of colonization. But that's a future book. Assuming this one ever gets published, of course."

Allie punched her on the shoulder. "No shit, Sherlock. You know what's gonna happen, don't you?"

"No, what?" said Myra, uncertain.

"You gonna wind up at a big writer's panel with Ursula K. LeGuin, C.J. Cherryh, and Joanna Russ, that's what. All of you going out together for drinks afterward."

(Joanna Russ)

Myra's face had gone very pale.

Ginny spoke up: "You do not get to sleep with Joanna Russ, I'm telling you right now."

"What if Sigourney Weaver is the guest celebrity?" taunted Allie.

"She's an actress" said Myra. "She's not Ripley, that one's a no-brainer."

Her tone caused Ginny to look at her sharply. "I meant it about Joanna Russ."

"Okay, I heard you." But Myra's face showed something was going on inside her head.

Allie said to Ginny "At least Doris Day doesn't write sci-fi."

"Small favors" muttered Ginny. "Let's go to my worktable, get started on this."

Myra said to their backs "Ask me about tints before you do a single patch of sea. I do have a vision of that, you know, Color Empress."

Ginny waggled her hand over her shoulder at Myra.

Mid November 1994

The following weekend, after Sunday dinner with all their friends, everyone except Myra sat down to play a board game at the dining table. She begged off, saying she first wanted to read through the new Skene chapter she'd written the day before. As she picked up her manuscript and red pen, settling on the daybed to read, Chris came into the study and asked if she could read the new work, too.

"Sure" said Myra. Chris sat next to her on the daybed and waited for Myra to finish the first page, handing it over to her. They read intently for several pages, then Myra said "Where did yoni come from, d'ya know?"

"God, in her most generous moment" replied Chris.

With a chuckle, Myra said "No, I meant the word."

Ginny's voice came from nearby. "I think it's Sanskit."

Myra looked up at her, standing there leaned against the doorway, her arms crossed.

"Then who brought yoni to America?" Myra mused.

Sima, appearing beside Ginny, said "Is that a new PBS documentary? 'Cause I don't want to miss it."

Gillam pushed his way between Sima and Ginny, making a beeline for Myra and saying "Is yoni like yoyo, Mama?"

Chris said "Well...attached to my fingers, can't seem to make it go away -- "

Myra elbowed her sharply and answered Gillam, now leaning on her knee and fingering the red binder clip on her manuscript, "No, honey, it's a body part. A woman's part."

"What part?"

"Her private parts. But it's a nickname, not the real name -- "

Margie, coming around Sima, burst out singing "Yoni, yoni, bo-boni, banana-fana fo-foni -- "

Gillam caught up with her: "Fee-fi-mo-moni -- "

All the adults joined in on the last "Yoni!"

As they were all laughing, Hannah's voice behind Ginny caused Ginny to turn sharply.

"Hate to interrupt" said Hannah, "But I just wanted to remind you, I'm taking your two plus Carly and Truitt to the petting zoo tomorrow after school, and we'll be late getting home."

"Okay, thanks, Hannah" said Ginny. Myra added her "Thanks" too as Hannah left. Margie trailed along behind her, saying "Can we call you Yannah instead of Hannah?"

"No" they heard Hannah reply.

"Marjorie Rose, come back here" said Ginny.

Everybody blinked at each other for a silent moment, like the Simpsons. Then Myra said "Where's Allie?"

Allie's voice drifted in from the dining room. "I'm still in here, 'cause I don't get to share yoni, as usual."

Chris cracked up. Sima turned back for the dining room, and the children scampered after her. Ginny gave Myra one last look before leaving, also.

Myra and Chris went back to reading. After a minute, Chris whispered "She's got ears like a fucking cougar."

Myra whispered back "When it comes to me and you sitting together on a bed, you betcha."

Another minute of focused reading passed. Then Chris murmured "I'll show you mine if you show me yours."

Myra finally lost it, and Chris was giggling with her. Myra heard Gillam say "What are they laughing about?"

Ginny answered "Never mind. And don't put that in your mouth, you'll get it sticky."

Which sent Myra and Chris off into fresh hysterics.

Copyright 2007 Maggie Jochild.

No comments: