Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Here's another installment of my Great American Lesbian Novel (in progress), Ginny Bates. If you are new to reading GB, go to the section in the right-hand column labeled Ginny Bates to read background and find out how to catch up.
Sunday, 6 May 2018
Sunday morning, Ginny heard Myra go into the kitchen and mix something in a bowl. After a while, all sounds stopped, and Ginny decided Myra had gone back to her room. She looked down the airwell and could see no one at the dining table, so she started downstairs. Near the bottom, however, she was startled to discover that Myra was standing in the kitchen, leaned against the counter. She couldn't bring herself to flee back up with Myra watching her. She walked on toward the stove, intending to refill the tea kettle.
When Myra spoke directly to her, Ginny flinched involuntarily. “I poached some extra eggs, if you want them." Ginny looked at her, feeling like they were strangers. She was unable to read her expression.
"Yes." Myra turned and lifted the poached eggs onto Ginny's favorite plate, which happened to be at hand. Ginny took the plate carefully from Myra. At that moment, a buzzer went off. Myra opened the oven with a potholder. "I made blueberry muffins. For the grandkids, but I've got another batch to go in, so you can have as many of these as you want." She emptied the muffins onto a second plate and carried this with the butter dish to the table at Ginny's chair.
Ginny got herself a glass of milk and sat down, walking around Myra without touching her.
"Are you going to eat any muffins?" said Ginny. She wasn't sure what was going on.
"After I put the second batch in the oven" said Myra. Ginny got up while Myra was spooning muffin dough into the pan and got Myra's favorite plate and a glass of milk, setting them at Myra's chair. She went back to her chair, and had split and buttered a muffin by the time Myra sat down. Ginny handed her the buttered muffin: "Here, the cook gets first taste." She began buttering a second one.
Myra looked her at for a moment, then took a bite. She closed her eyes and said "Oh, I knew these berries were going to be memorable."
Ginny took a bite too, then forked open her egg. It was cooked to the doneness she preferred, not Myra. They ate in silence. When the buzzer went off again, Myra got up and pulled out the muffins, setting the pan on the counter to cool.
"I'll bag these up later" she said. "Maybe Margie will take them to the kids. I'm not ready to go there yet, are you?"
"No" said Ginny, looking at the table.
"I'll say these are from both of us. Hope it helps." Myra walked over to the table and picked up her dirty dishes. She took them to the sink and rinsed them, then set them in the dishwasher. Ginny had stopped eating, still looking at the table.
Myra walked back to the table. She set one hand lightly on Ginny's shoulder. "Have as many as you want, I really mean that. There are more blueberries in the freezer, if it comes to that." She didn't squeeze Ginny's shoulder, just turned and walked back to the guest bedroom, Keller trailing along behind her. Once she was out of sight, Ginny closed her eyes and put her own hand over where Myra's had rested. It was the first physical contact they had shared since the truth had come out.
She sat there for an indeterminate amount of time. She couldn't finish what was left on her plate. When she heard a sound from the front of the house, she came out of her thoughts and started to stand up. Myra returned to the kitchen, looking at Ginny's plate. She made no comment on it, however. She stood uncertainly in the middle of the room for a moment, then said "I think...it would be good to see Nancy together. I'm ready for that, if you're still up for it, that is."
Ginny sank back into her chair. "I am." She kept her face neutral. "Shall I call her, or do you want to?"
"If you don't mind calling..." said Myra. She laughed bitterly. "My schedule is clear, you can pick any time in the next week. Except – Mimi's birthday is in a week."
“I know” said Ginny.
Myra didn't seem to know what to do with herself. She walked over and put kibble into the cat bowls, even though some of them still had food left. Mother Courage sprang down from the top of the sideboard to investigate.
Ginny cleared her dishes from the table and bagged up the cooled muffins. She wanted to look around and see what Myra was doing -- was she just standing there watching her? But instead she went to the wall phone and dialed Nancy's number. Nancy surprised her by answering.
After a minute, Ginny turned and met Myra's eyes. She was standing by the sideboard, as if waiting. Ginny said "She said she'll see us today, if we want, at 2:00."
"Today?" said Myra, with evident dismay. “Isn't it Sunday?” She looked away from Ginny then, out the side window for a few moments. "Yeah, I guess. Might as well."
Ginny said yes to Nancy and got off the phone. "I'll be upstairs" she said, not looking at Myra.
"We need to take separate cars" said Myra.
"I'll see you there, then" said Ginny. She started up the stairs, then turned and said "Thank you for breakfast."
"You're welcome" said Myra.
Myra showered and left the house before noon without a word. Ginny wondered if she was having lunch with Allie, or out at a diner somewhere. Or maybe not eating at all. Ginny called Margie and told her what was going on. Then she spent the hours lying on the daybed, not sleeping but not really present, either. She had set her watch for 1:15, and when it rang, she got up and put on some pants and a clean shirt. She got to Nancy's a few minutes before 2:00. Nancy was making tea. Ginny sat in her living room and leaned back in a chair, closing her eyes.
At 2:00, Myra was still not there and Ginny couldn't help beginning to panic. Nancy had come out and brought her a cup of tea, and after looking at Ginny's face, she sat down next to her and simply held Ginny's hand. Ginny thought it was all that kept her from screaming.
At 2:10, Myra knocked at the front door. "I'm so sorry" she said as soon as Nancy answered. "This will sound crazy, but I got lost."
"Did you forget where I lived?" said Nancy, hugging her.
"Something. I don't know what. It took me a long time to figure out where I was and what roads would lead back to your neighborhood. I'm -- not quite tracking, I guess."
"It's all right. You're my only clients today" said Nancy. "Come in and sit down."
Myra sat on the sofa at an angle from Ginny's chair. Nancy offered her tea, and Myra shook her head. She had not said a word to Ginny. Nancy sat down next to her and took her pulses, then touched various pressure points, murmuring questions that Myra knew she didn't have to consciously hear to be answering. Ginny fought hard not to cry. She didn't think she had Myra's permission any more to cry in front of her.
After a few minutes, Nancy sat back and looked at Myra with a sweet smile. "I really, really appreciate you finding your way here today. In every sense" she began. "The first thing I want to say to you is that I apologize for giving Ginny completely wrong and destructive advice fourteen years ago. When she said being honest with you, at that point in time with all the difficulty your family was in, would be too much for you to handle, I believed her because I didn't know you yet and it would be too much for almost any other human being. I felt it was most important to keep at least one of you functional for your children, and we could deal with the consequences later. Once I met you and got to know you, I realized she had been wrong about your capacity -- an error she made based on her fear, not based on how she knew you. Her fear clouded her judgment temporarily. By the time she realized she had been wrong, so did I. I know you are dealing with two separate blows, the original incident and then the years of lying about it. I doubt if you can disentangle the two in your mind and heart yet, but you will be able to eventually, if you so choose, and I can help you with that. If you need to be angry or disappointed with me, I'll be glad to hear it. We can start there, if you like."
Myra was silent. At one point, she looked in Ginny's direction, but when she saw Ginny's pinched, white face, she looked away again. Finally she said "I have no idea where to start. I have no idea what to do. The most I could manage was to get myself here, and even that was an ordeal. I am completely hopeless about anything ever making sense again."
Nancy said, "Okay, then we'll start with your hopelessness. I am assuming that if you came here, you're willing to at least consider trusting me and working with me. Is that correct?"
Myra had to think for a minute, then nodded.
"I'll start with a question" said Nancy, "and we'll muscle test your answer: Do you believe there is any way you can trust Ginny again enough to be in a relationship with her?" Nancy had her hand on Myra's wrist. Myra looked at Nancy to answer "No. I don't see how." Nancy said "Okay, that tests positive. You really believe you can't get past this, so that's where we begin."
She turned to Ginny and said "You have my permission to cry, and my permission is what matters most in this room. Go ahead." Ginny burst into tears.
Turning back to Myra, she said "Here's my next question: If you were able, with help, to find a way to trust Ginny again and reinvent your relationship with her, not just endure it but make it new and whole, would you rather do that or would you rather get my help to leave her and build a life without her in it? You can get my help either way, it's up to you. I make no judgment and I'll help just as much either way. So the question is, try or go?"
"How can I answer something that's impossible?" said Myra.
"Imagine it were possible. If I could grant you a magic wish, would you wish for repair or a new life elsewhere?"
"Is this a trick question, Nancy? Do you think if you get to me answer something I don't know how to do, it will somehow prove I can do it?" Myra was getting a little mad.
"No. I'm asking your soul what it wants. Your soul doesn't deal with impossibilities, does not recognize them. If it wants what is impossible, then it's up to you, with my help, to see if we can find a way to satisfy it. I know there's likely a way, I will go with you on that path wherever it leads us. But your soul has to want it. If it doesn't, if you really would rather start over in another form, then we have to honor your soul's desire."
Ginny didn't think she could just sit here and wait for this answer. But her legs weren't working well enough for her to get up.
Myra's chest was hurting. She said so, and Nancy began doing something in the air around her body. She had the look on her face she had when she was calling in entities. The pressure in Myra's chest eased a little. She was terrified. She wanted someone to be holding her, and thought about asking Nancy, but decided she probably needed more whatever it was Nancy was doing. She looked up into a corner of the room and opened her mouth, still not sure what was going to come out of her.
"I want Ginny. I want a life with Ginny."
Myra burst into gut-wrenching sobs. Nancy pulled her onto her shoulder, still waving one set of fingers in the air and murmuring, and held her there. She smelled like rosemary. Myra was afraid she might throw up. There was a line of pain around the crest of her head, as if someone was prying off the lid of her skull. But Nancy kept very busy, and slowly the pain receded, her stomach settled, and the crying trickled off.
"Good work" said Nancy. She handed Myra a tissue, then a glass of water. She turned around and looked at Ginny, who was pushed back in her chair, her knees folded up against her chest, still deathly white but with a tiny smell of hope in the air. "Hang in there, Ginny."
"That's all I know how to do" whispered Ginny.
"Okay, Myra. I think part of why this looks impossible is because you don't have enough information. You're missing some key details. I'm going to fill in the blanks for you about what happened. Ginny, you need to listen to this hard, too, because some of it will be news to you, also, at least a new perspective. Usually I just allow a client to figure these things out in their own time, but I'm short-cutting that process for two reasons: One is that you are suffering, needlessly -- it's not the kind of pain that creates growth, it's old rehearsal suffering. And second, this issue, this incident is not the main lesson you need to deal with. It looks like the elephant in the room, but it is not. So I'm going to give you an assist, so sometime in the next while you can see the real elephant in the room. Both of you."
Myra was confused and wary. "I don't want to know more -- details -- than I already do. Ginny told me about what they did. It made me sick."
"What they did is not the issue, and your focus on that is a little delusional. What matters is why Ginny did what she did, and why she wasn't able to tell you."
"I don't want to hear any goddamned excuses" said Myra.
"Not excuses. Why. You know this woman, inside out, or you believed you did -- can you tell me why she did this? No? Then you have something yet to learn. How about listening for a minute, can you do that?" Nancy was firm.
"Okay." Just barely.
"At the point Ginny was unfaithful to your relationship agreement, you two had been together how long?"
"Seventeen fucking years" said Myra.
"Seventeen years, two children, and a great deal of sharing. But that year, things were hard in new ways. Your children were both in adolescence, struggling with forging their own identities separate from you. At times, you didn't know what you were doing. Then Margie got raped, and you had to face, both of you, your failure as parents. It's a parent's job to protect their child, and you didn't protect her from this terrible thing. You had to not only help her heal -- and for you, Myra, that was a much more difficult job than it was for Ginny, because your own delayed ability to heal gave you no reliable role model for how it might look for her -- but you also had to forgive yourselves for having failed. Does this make sense so far?"
Ginny said "No -- what do you mean, Myra didn't have a role model for how to heal? She was the only one of us with a role model."
Nancy turned so she could see both of them.
"No, Myra had eventually found her way to healing, but she had no idea how it was to be a 15-year-old dealing with a single incident and a world of help. She expected things to be harder than they were. I'm not minimizing the rape, but we are born with a capacity to deal with whatever depravity human beings can conceive of, and with resource and room, we can heal almost anything. Margie was positioned to move through it rapidly, something Myra didn't know how to expect. And you, Ginny, colluded with Myra in that lack of knowledge, giving up your power to her, yet simultaneously resenting her for her perceived expert status. You need to figure out why you didn't stay equal with Myra in dealing with this. And you, Myra, need to forgive yourself for not only letting Margie get hurt but also for not being completely on top of the healing process. Forgive yourself for your damage."
"We worked on this after the rape, remember?" said Myra.
"Yes, but we didn't work it all the way through. Obviously. No blame, not on you, nor on me, just an acknowledgement. So...Ginny has given up expert status to Myra, who is not an expert here, and neither of you can completely grant yourselves absolution for your failure as parents. And then Gillam starts having PTSD, not only about the rape but also about his role as a male. And again, Ginny, you decide Myra is better equipped to deal with Gillam than you are, again for reasons you need to figure out. And you can't ask Myra for reassurance, because she's stretched terribly thin. But you are walking around doubting one of your reasons for existence, your role as a parent. And because you feel like you can't take it to Myra, you don't take it to me or to someone competent to help you puzzle it out. Not at that point."
"So...enter Pat. Pat who has her own set of difficulties about parenting, who feels under siege from her partner because she is not living up to expectations, who cannot understand the alternative model of parenting you are all operating under, she only signed on to be a Dad and she is angry about finding out the small print. She is sick of hearing from her partner about how you two do things, she is especially sick of hearing about Myra, the non-biological mom, and how great you are. But she doesn't have a process or a framework for even admitting her own feelings to herself."
"Feeling desperate one night, Ginny, you go over to your best friend's house to finally admit how inadequate you are. She isn't there, she's out for -- whatever it was, doesn't matter. You began crying on the way over, so when you get to the door, it's obvious you are in tremendous distress. Pat asks you in, sits you down on the couch, offers to listen to whatever is bothering you. And you made your first error then, Ginny -- you needed help so much, it had gone on so long, you said yes to an offer of help from someone who was not competent to listen in the way you needed. It's a mistake we all make, all the time. It's a mistake Myra can understand and forgive."
"Maybe" said Myra.
"What Pat hears you say inflames all her sense of being wronged, of being misunderstood -- you two are not the perfect couple, Myra is not the paragon, and she seizes the opportunity to be vindicated. She begins telling you, Ginny, that you are the birth mother, you are the real mother, and Myra is undercutting you, freezing you out, secretly taking over your role, with dire consequences -- maybe Margie wouldn't have been raped if it had been you, Ginny, who talked with her about sex."
"She said that? She said that to you, and you listened?" said Myra, in a rage.
"Not directly, and not immediately" Nancy answered. "She worked her way up to it. Mostly what she did was play into Ginny's fear that she was the bad parent, the wrong mother, by insisting no, Ginny was the good one, Ginny was not the problem. It was close enough to Ginny's fears to be persuasive. Ginny was crying, without reserve, by that time. And when you and Ginny cry together, Myra, it's a process of bearing witness. You would never in a million years use that moment of vulnerability to manipulate the other, to play with her emotions, to do anything except just listen. I am willing to bet you've never had a sexual encounter that was mixed up with a crying session about other things -- maybe you've cried during sex, but you haven't used sex as an answer to crying or vulnerability. Am I right about that?"
Myra was shocked. "Of course not. That would be predation."
"You understood that, Myra. You have the background to understand that. Ginny did not. Ginny made her second mistake. She was preyed upon, and she didn't recognize it immediately. When Pat kissed her in the middle of her crying, telling her she was the good mother, it was not her fault -- it shut down her thinking -- as predation intends to do. And Pat wasn't interested in a connection between equals, she wanted to take something from Ginny, from the two of you, in order to try and make herself feel better. So she pushed. When Ginny kissed back, confused because this had never happened to her before, and what was in her mind was not Pat but you Myra, you and your relationship -- Pat pushed further, putting her hand in Ginny's pants. Then she took Ginny's hand and put it inside her own pants."
"Is that what happened?" said Myra, looking at Ginny.
Ginny was crying again, completely humiliated. She nodded.
"Why the fuck didn't you tell me? Why didn't you tell me last week?" Myra couldn't believe it.
"Because it was my fault, Myra, not hers. I'm not a victim, I'm a grown woman."
"You -- " Myra didn't know what to say.
Ginny wailed "And then when my hand was on her and it was wrong, completely wrong, that's when I realized what was happening. But I can't explain why it took me so long to realize it."
"What do you mean, completely wrong? Is she built different somehow?" Myra couldn't help her curiosity.
"No, not that I remember. I mean it wasn't you -- when I could feel it wasn't you, I freaked out. You're the only woman I've wanted to touch, ever, since we fell in love." Ginny was gasping out the words between sobs.
Nancy took over the narrative again. "So at that point, she pulled away, shoved Pat away, in fact, and stood up. She went into the bathroom, scrubbed her face and hands, dropped her pants and scrubbed her crotch, then walked out. At the door she turned to Pat and said 'If you tell anyone this, ever, you will destroy my family.' She left and had nowhere to go. Who could she tell? In Ginny's mind, she had just betrayed your faith in her. She had made an error she couldn't explain, and even though it was less than two minutes of deviation from a lifetime of commitment, she didn't know how to forgive herself. She sat in her car for hours, until everyone at home was asleep. She slipped in and went back to her studio. The next morning, when you took the kids to school, she went to the women's clinic and got tested for herpes. She didn't have sex with you again until she got an all clear. She waited for the bomb to go off, for Pat to tell Patty, but when that didn't happen in a few days, she came to you and begged for you both to get help. When she came to me, I agreed her confessing to you would be, at least in part, an attempt to make herself feel better. In my estimation, she had not in fact been unfaithful to you. If she could find a way to carry her secret, get clear about what really happened and not ever pull away from you, I thought it would be kinder for you. I was devastatingly wrong, but we already know that."
Myra didn't want this story to make a difference, but it did. She looked at Ginny and said "You got used. Not that differently from how Margie got used. And you couldn't see that?"
Ginny looked away.
Nancy said "Margie was raised by the two of you, a different generation. She was able to not blame herself right away, to take care of herself right away. Ginny was not because, well, you don't have to be an incest survivor to be hurt around sex and intimacy."
Myra wanted Ginny to say something to her. "How could you believe you were the bad parent? Why does there even have to be a bad parent?"
Nancy laughed. "Funny thing, you asking that question. You both grew up with a good parent and a bad parent. You were set up to believe in that dynamic. In your case, Myra, your father was openly assigned the role of bad guy, so there was a little wiggle room for you to not blindly recreate your parent's relationship. But in Ginny's family, her mother's coldness, just like her mother's alcoholism, was a secret covered up by Ginny's father. It was a fault line ready for someone to exploit."
"Goddamn, Ginny. If you couldn't be David, then you must be Helen? Is that what you thought?"
"You are always so clear that you are Jo's legacy, Myra, that everything good about you comes from Jo. But she's not perfect. She's not who I'd want raising me" Ginny flared.
"Who'd you rather, spineless David?" yelled Myra back at her.
"These choices are the lie" intervened Nancy. "These rigid ways of thinking, of choosing sides -- that's evidence of where you got hurt."
"And Jughead, she's the one who figured out how to seduce you?"
"It wasn't seduction, Myra" interrupted Nancy. "Don't disrespect Ginny that way. It was an error in judgment on her part, the kind of error you have countless examples of in your past."
"Yeah, but I made all my mistakes before we got together" jeered Myra. "I didn't truck it into our bedroom."
Ginny stared at her. Myra stopped, and tried to argue with herself in her head.
"Exactly" said Nancy, as if she could read Myra's thoughts. "Ginny made a mistake later than you. Women make mistakes."
"And...Ginny, I have brought my past with me. You've never -- trashed me for it" Myra admitted, almost mumbling.
"All right, then. Good work, you two. You still have a long way to go. Myra, you need to not stuff your hurt and betrayal down just because you have a little understanding of what happened with Ginny. You need to let this percolate through, and figure out what betrayal really means to you. And Ginny, you need to do some serious forgiving of yourself, stop waiting for Myra to make it better. You need to get over thinking your choices are David or Helen. I can see you back tomorrow, if you two want a 10:00 session." Nancy was chipper, as if something really remarkable had occurred.
Myra was stumped. She didn't want to leave until things were fixed. She still didn't know how they could be fixed, but she was now beginning to believe Nancy could maybe pull it off. She looked at the clock. It was almost 4:00.
Ginny stood up and said "Okay. I'll see you then." She didn't want to face Myra, didn't want to hear anything more. She wasn't sure she should drive home, but she walked out the door and got into her car. She rolled down the window so fresh air would blow on her face. She drove slowly home, walked in the front door, and almost collapsed with relief. She began crying as she trudged up the stairs. She crawled under the quilt on Myra's daybed, with Franklin beside her, and cried quietly, unable to single out one clear thought in her head.
After half an hour, she realized Myra had not come home. Fear swept through her: maybe she had gotten lost again, or had a wreck, or wasn't coming home. She got up and went to the front window, looking out at the driveway. Myra's car was there, and Myra was sitting in the driver's seat, leaned over the steering wheel. She watched for five minutes, trying to figure out if Myra was crying. Unable to tell from this angle, she went back to the daybed and covered up again.
Several minutes later, she heard the click of the front door latch. She heard Keller's hello meows, and the soft jangle of Myra's keys being set down on the kitchen counter. She waited for the sounds of Myra making something to eat. When Myra was done, she'd go down and walk over to Margie's for dinner. She almost stopped breathing, she was listening so intently, trying to track Myra's movements downstairs. For a long while, there was no sound at all. Suddenly she heard the creak of a floorboard at the top of the stairs. She rolled over, startled. Myra was standing there, staring at her.
"Why are you on my daybed?" said Myra.
Ginny rolled back, so she wasn't facing Myra. "Mine is still being reupholstered."
There was a long silence. Then Myra said "Would you scooch over a bit?"
Ginny scooted without registering what it meant, then felt Myra slide in behind her, fitting herself to Ginny's curve. As Myra's arm came around her middle and pulled her close, Ginny gave herself up to grief.
Myra had never heard Ginny cry like this. The sounds she was making were so harsh, Myra wondered if it hurt her throat to push them out. Ginny's body was jerking in spasms. She held her tight, as tight as she could, and when there was a moment of silence, as Ginny drew in another big breath, Myra would say into the hair behind her ear "I love you, Ginny Bates. I want to find a way back."
It was only ten minutes of all-out crying, but Ginny felt weak and exhausted afterward. She didn't want Myra to move away from her, not yet. Finally she said "Don't go. Please."
"I am so sorry, Myra, I have been sorry for fourteen years, you need to know -- "
"Ginny. I don't need or want your apology."
There was a long silence. Then Ginny said "I need an apology from you."
Myra was shocked. "What for?"
"For calling me a cunt."
Myra felt a second shock. "I called you a cunt?'
"During the fight, downstairs in the kitchen. You yelled it at me."
"Oh, hell, Ginny. I have no memory of that. But I'm not denying it -- I have no memory of much of that fight. I was out of my mind. I should never have said that, I absolutely don't believe that about you and I wish I could take it back."
Ginny rolled over onto her back and looked at Myra. "Okay. That helps."
Myra looked into her eyes. "I miss you something awful."
"I'm right here."
"I -- I can't, Ginny."
Ginny closed her eyes briefly, then said "All right. I understand."
"Have you been sleeping? I don't think you've been eating."
"Not really....Is that why you made the muffins?"
"Blueberries. Your favorite." Myra grinned a little.
Ginny turned back and snuggled into Myra's body. "I could sleep now, if you'll hold me."
"Me, too. For a while."
Keller got tired of waiting for Myra to come back downstairs and yowled up the airwell. Myra turned away from Ginny's ear to yell "Up here, Keller. Come up here." They heard Keller's footsteps up the stairs, with accompanying complaining chirps. She jumped onto the daybed and lay down against Myra's neck, almost upside down.
"I can not only hear her purring, I think I can feel the vibration traveling through you to me" remarked Ginny.
Myra pushed her forehead against Ginny's hair, and they settled into exhausted sleep.
At 5:30, Margie began to wonder where Ginny was. She stepped out onto her back porch and saw no lights on at their house. She left the dogs in her own yard. As she opened her mothers' back door, she felt a changed energy in the house. Instead of yelling out a hello as she usually did, she looked through the downstairs, noting car keys on the counter and the open bedroom door. She walked quietly up the back stairs, and at the landing, she saw the two of them spooned together on Myra's daybed. From their breathing, she could tell they were asleep. Franklin sat at the top of the stairs, staring at her intently. She went on into the study, flanked by Franklin, and looked down at her mothers. Relief was making her light-headed. One of Ginny's legs and feet were exposed, and she pulled the quilt very gently back over Ginny's flesh, tucking it in. Franklin jumped onto that section of the daybed, now covered with quilt, and curled up, as if he had been waiting for someone to make a place for him.
Margie tiptoed back downstairs and walked to Gillam's house. She told him what she had just seen. Nobody else was there for the potluck yet. He went and sat down at the table, his forehead in his palms.
"Do you think this means it's all better?"
"No. But it's a start. And it's the start they needed. They communicate so much by touch, they always have."
"Thank god. Thank you, god." Gillam closed his eyes for a minute in prayer; Margie could see his lips moving.
As the other family members arrived, they were filled in. They were all in the family room singing when Margie's vigilant watch on the house behind revealed a light going on upstairs. She nudged Allie, and together they saw Myra came into view, walking downstairs slowly. Alone. They watched for a few more minutes, but Ginny didn't sit up from the daybed.
Margie tried not to see this as bad news. She and Frances helped Jane and Gillam put the children to bed, then went home and talked themselves to sleep.
© 2008 Maggie Jochild.
(Whale shark iron gate sculpture in Los Zacatitos, Baja California, Mexico by John Warren)
Here's another installment of my Great American Lesbian Novel (in progress), Ginny Bates. If you are new to reading GB, go to the section in the right-hand column labeled Ginny Bates to read background and find out how to catch up.
4 May 2018
The following morning, just past sun-up, Margie and Ginny were at the table when Chris let herself out of the front bedroom. She came and sat with them, pouring a cup of coffee but declining a bowl of oatmeal.
“Well?” asked Margie.
Chris looked short on sleep. “I did my best. I saw it land, but it didn't sink in. Rolled off like rain on chaparral, I think.”
“What are you talking about?” said Ginny.
Margie turned to her. “Aunt Chris tried to bust through. Aunt Allie's trying, too.”
“Allie called her nuts” said Chris, with a grin. “Funny how my friends throw that word around.”
Ginny was staring at her. Chris tapped the table beside Ginny and said “So, how about you? Are you crazy, too?”
After several seconds, Ginny said quietly “Yes.” Margie was startled.
“Well, you're rich. We'll keep them away from you, out there. Listen, I need to run, I want to catch Sima before she leaves the house.” Chris carried her cup to the sink on her way out.
Margie played with her spoon for a couple of minutes, as Ginny stared into space – or maybe she was watching the front of the house. Finally Margie said “Tonight is shabbos again. Are you coming?”
Ginny looked dismayed at finding out how much time had passed. “No” she said hoarsely.
“Well, then, you're not just sitting here. You've eaten exactly one bite of the oatmeal, and I made it the way you do, like wheat paste. So put on some clean clothes, not those funky sweatpants again, and you're coming home with me. I want to see you refuse Frances' breakfast. Then – that rosebush you gave me, the Audrey Hepburn, it's got problems. You need to be in the sun for a couple of hours. After that, Edwina is taking you to her house until late afternoon. You can come hole back up here while the rest of us welcome the sabbath.”
Margie's voice wasn't irritated but it was final. Ginny trudged upstairs while Margie carried the oatmeal outside and dumped it on the bird feeding tray. She left a note for Myra, outlining the day's plans but with no appeals in it.
Myra emerged from her room around 11:00. She read the note, opened a Coke, and drank it down standing in the kitchen. Then she put on shoes and walked out to her meditation bench by the pond, Keller trailing after her. It was overcast but not imminently rainy.
After half an hour, Allie came in the front gate carrying a small paper bag. “I made you a ham sandwich, the way you like it” said Allie. “And there's a bottle of cranberry juice in there. I ain't leaving until you take at least two bites and drink all the juice.”
“So you get custody of me while Edwina sits with Ginny, is that how it works?” said Myra flatly. She unwrapped the sandwich and sniffed at it, then set it down. She opened the juice and took a couple of sips. Keller's nose was twitching. Myra picked up the sandwich again and took a small bite.
“My, I don't get why you won't go see Nancy. I know you freaked completely out, but it ain't like you to refuse help from the one place that always worked before. Are you trying to die or something?” asked Allie.
“I feel like I'm already dead” said Myra. “I'm just waiting for the dirt to drop on me.”
“That you plan, then? Wait to either die or for somebody to save you?” said Allie with a trace of anger in her voice.
“I don't have a plan. I have no fucking clue, except to stay away from any room where Ginny might be, since I'm trapped here” said Myra bitterly.
“It not Gitmo” said Allie.
“Don't you get it, asswipe?” burst out Myra. “I spent my entire adult life trying to clean up the residue from being raised by liars, by a man who never did anything but lie and a woman who covered for him at the expense of her own kids. And now I find out I chose as a soulmate another woman who is just as big a liar, just as willing to use me like toilet paper to keep from having to deal with the consequences of her own behavior. I'm too fucking old to clean this up. I'm ruined, every choice I've made is in the crapper.”
“Every choice?” said Allie.
“Oh, hell, I don't know. I can't figure how to sort it out” said Myra, putting down the sandwich.
“That why you need help” persisted Allie.
Myra leaned forward with her head in her hands. “Maybe I can move in with Margie and Frances. Or the back bedroom at Jane and Gillam's. I can't afford to buy Ginny out of this house, and I don't have any of my own money left, except for the pension. I guess I could start drawing on that. I don't want to lose access to the grandkids.”
“You trying to solve the wrong problems first” said Allie.
Myra looked up at her, her eyes flat. “You know what? If this is the best listening you can manage right now, I'd rather not have you around.”
Allie stood up stiffly, then bent over to press an imaginary crease in her jeans. When she righted herself again, she said “I'm not giving up on you. I'm just taking a little break. Or not, if you don't want even that.”
“I know you're not gonna walk on me, Billups. That much I do know” said Myra, putting her head back in her palms.
“Okay. Well, see you later” said Allie. Myra heard the gate click close. She lifted her head to look at the whale shark carving. In one of the concave spots on its back, near the head, was something brown – a fallen leaf, maybe. She stood tiredly to go pull it out. It would not dislodge, however. It was a solid small hump that left dust on her fingertips.
“I think it's some kind of cocoon, maybe a tiny wasp larva” said a voice beside her. Myra turned to see her mother standing there, vivid and opaque. Myra leaned her palm flat against the whale shark and closed her eyes. When she opened them again, her mother was still there. Keller had her head turned toward the space her mother occupied, her ears tilted forward.
“I should have known you'd appear one of these times” said Myra. “Or maybe this is an outright sign of my going off the deep end – I've never seen anyone before, only heard them.”
“I chose to come this time” said Jo. “You've never needed me this much.”
I most earnestly beg to differ Myra thought.
Jo laughed. “Of course you'll argue, you always did argue with me.”
“This proves I'm hallucinating” Myra said. “Because how could you read my thoughts...” Her voice trailed off. She felt very sick to her stomach.
“You're leading up to making the biggest mistake of your life, you little slack-jawed moonwit” her mother said in a conversational tone.
I haven't heard that phrase, or even thought of it, in decades thought Myra. Slack-jawed moonwit, she used that all the time. But I'm dredging up memory, it's no proof of anything.
Jo turned around and crooned to Keller “You are such a wonderful kitty, I'm glad to meet you.” Keller stood, preening. Jo bent over to pick her up, and Myra heard her mother distinctly break wind. Keller pushed against her mother's chest, with a purr Myra could also hear.
Myra had forgotten the details of what her mother looked like. She stared at Jo's brown eyes, the dark patches below them, the missing molar which showed when she smiled. Her pantsuit wasn't familiar to Myra, and she thought zanily “Is there a Lane Bryant in the afterlife?” She wanted to touch her, to melt into her mama's arms. But she was already going crazy. She stayed put.
As Jo stroked Keller's forehead, she said “Your Ginny: I didn't send her to you, you found her on your own. I did play a hand in those children of yours, but I was working with another old woman, on her side of the family. Which is why Margie came first, not Gillam; I didn't have seniority, as it were. Ginny is the right one for you, Myra. She always has been and remains so. You have to stop embracing confusion and weakness, and do this right.”
“Funny coming from you” emerged from Myra's mouth before she could stop herself.
“Baby girl, you have never been the kind of coward I was. Make your own legacy here.”
Myra heard another gate click and turned to look, lifting her hand from the whale shark. Her mother vanished, and Keller fell abruptly to the earth with a yowl. Margie was standing in her yard, staring at Myra.
“Who were you just talking to? And what happened to Keller?”
“I was talking – I was hallucinating, Margie. And Keller must have jumped down from my arms.”
Behind Margie, Gidg and Moon stood with huge eyes, heads lowered, looking around Myra's yard. They would not cross the threshold from their own property. Margie looked around also, saying “But there was another voice, where is she? She can't have moved that quickly.”
Myra swallowed. “You heard her?”
“Of course I heard her. What, are you saying – was that your hallucination?” said Margie.
“It was my mother. She came to tell me what to do” said Myra. Margie felt for the arm of the bench and sat down heavily. Keller jumped up beside her and began washing.
“What did you hear?” asked Myra hoarsely.
“First it was just two voices but I couldn't make out words, I was still by my back door. See, Gidg came and scratched at my work room, and when I came to see what was up, she growled with the hair standing up on her back. And Moon had his tail between his legs. So I thought there must be something scaring them in the yard. I came to the back stoop, and I could hear you, and I walked over. When I got to the gate -- “
Margie stopped and looked around at her dogs. “Come on, you two. Come in here.”
They balked. Myra bent over and held her fingers out to Moon, saying “It's okay. I'll look after you.” He slid through the gate, knees bent, and sidled up to Myra. She rubbed his head, kissed his forehead, and let him lick her cheek once. “You are so very loyal to us all” she murmured to him. “Your heart is true blue.” When she removed her hand, he hurried back to his own yard.
Margie caught Myra's gaze and, with her uncanny gift for mimicry, said in Jo's voice “Baby girl, you've never been the kind of coward I was. Make your own legacy here.”
Myra suddenly needed to sit down, too. Margie made room for her on the bench, picking up Keller to do so. She sniffed of Keller's fur and said “She smells like sauteed garlic and onions. And some kind of lady perfume.”
Myra had to close her eyes again. “Avon” she whispered.
“Mama, I'm telling you flat out, I am not hallucinating. I just heard my own gramma, I guess. She sounded – the way she said 'baby girl', it was exactly how you say it. God, I wish I'd been in time to see her” said Margie. “What else did she say?”
Myra kept her eyes closed. After several seconds, she said “I have to think this over. I can't talk about it with you right now.” She looked at Margie and said “I also need to ask you not to tell anybody else, not yet. Except Frances, I won't ask you to lie to your partner.”
Her face went stony. She stood and said “I need to go sort this out.” She strode toward the back door. Keller carefully skirted the pond, then raced across the grass to catch up. Margie watched Myra through the glass wall, heading to the front of the house. She picked up the sandwich and juice bottle, and returned to her own yard.
After closing the gate, she pulled the sandwich into pieces and tossed them to her dogs, saying “Thank you both so much for coming to get me.” She rinsed the bottle in her sink and put it in recycling. She looked at the clock and decided Frances could spare a 10-minute break right now. She shut the front door in her dogs' faces.
Gillam came through the gate after work, finding Ginny upstairs on Myra's daybed. “I brought chicken enchiladas” he said. “Do you have challah for us?”
“You'll have to get some out of the freezer” said Ginny tiredly.
“Are you napping?” he asked.
“Trying to” she answered. He kissed her forehead and went back downstairs. He knocked at Myra's door and let himself in without waiting.
“Shabbat shalom” he said. Myra was surprised. “What did you do today?” he asked.
Myra studied her fingernails a minute. “I need to tell you something” she said.
He sat down quickly.
“I – I had a thing today. A – like one of my sightings, only – I don't think this was real.” Her face is way too pale he thought.
“You never think they're real” he replied. “Where did this happen? Did you go out?”
Myra recounted the incident clumsily, not able to maintain a clear chronology. Gillam asked several questions, ending with “I don't see why you're claiming this isn't like your other visions.”
“Because...for one thing, those bricks in that wall are at most a few years old. My mother never stood on that earth or touched that wall. Plus...everybody's hammering on me, it's too convenient.”
“I'm not hammering on you” he said. “And you didn't touch Spider Woman rock, but that ancient on its top saw you all the same. That one was visual, not auditory, remember?”
“Dammit, Gillam, I'm trying to tell you – this is a sign of me losing it. And somehow I hypnotized Margie into it, too.”
“If you want evidence of you losing it, you can begin a week ago” he replied. “I don't believe you, or much of anybody, can coerce Margie mentally or emotionally. I was with you at Stonehenge, I saw your reaction, do you think I was being deceived by you, too?”
Myra didn't answer. Gillam said, with a small grin, “So she would have let me be the firstborn, huh. I like that. Who do you think the old woman who pulled rank on her was, Rosa?”
“I do think that, Gillam, but that's my point. It's all coming from my imagination, it's not real.”
“Did she mention my kids?” asked Gillam.
Gillam thought for a minute, and began standing. “Okay. I'm going to talk it over with Margie.”
“No, I'd rather you didn't -- “
“I have to, Mama. Listen, have you forgotten that tomorrow is Jane's birthday?”
“Lucy and Co are driving up, and the main party starts at 5:00.”
“Gillam...I can't. We have – Ginny found an antique music stand and refinished it, and I bought an old music sheet that has notes on it by Charles Mingus, it's framed and matted in the -- “
“You can give it to Jane when you come to see her” said Gillam. “You or Mom, whichever one of you pulls yourself together first.”
He stood a minute, looking at her. She avoided meeting his eyes. He said slowly “I think maybe part of why she came was actually for my kids. To keep this hopelessness from being passed on to another generation. Which I agree with her about. They don't need to see you like this.”
He left, then, not closing the door behind him. Myra heard him go into the storage room and open the freezer. Once the back door shut, she went to her bedroom door and closed it gently.
Ginny stayed on Myra's daybed, away from windows and any possible view of the house behind them. At midnight, she dragged herself downstairs and drank some tea. She looked at Gillam's enchiladas but her stomach rebelled. She could hear the TV from Myra's room. She carried an apple back upstairs and crawled under her quilt, setting the apple beside her pillow. The clock in her studio chimed away half-hours and hours.
© 2008 Maggie Jochild.
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
(The flight of non-treaty Nimipu, June 17-October 5, 1877)
Here's another installment of my Great American Lesbian Novel (in progress), Ginny Bates. If you are new to reading GB, go to the section in the right-hand column labeled Ginny Bates to read background and find out how to catch up.
April 30, 2018
Chris was home with Sima on Monday when Allie called after lunch to check in about Myra.
“She's lost weight” said Allie. “They both have. Those circles under her eyes are growing.”
“She was wheezing in her sleep, the night I slept over” said Chris. “Course, that cat's in there with her now.”
“Do we need to get her to a doctor?” asked Allie.
“Not yet” said Chris. “Still...this is as bad as when her mother died.” She felt Sima turn and look at her.
“She nuts” said Allie baldly. “And when she switches from being mad to blaming herself, well, we may have to sit watch on her.”
“Maybe we should get her out of there, Allie” said Chris. “Maybe she can't do what she needs to do because she feels confined.”
“No” said Allie stubbornly. “She burns bridges. I've thought about getting Ginny to leave, let Myra felt that place empty. But I ain't got the heart, and Edwina won't do it, either. Edwina...Ginny won't tell her much, she just sitting tight, and – don't you repeat this now, but 'Wina wonders how come Ginny couldn't trust her, either. They've kept other big secrets between 'em before, apparently.”
“Yeah, well, when it's time for us all to sit back down on a clean bed of sand, we'll be reassigning territory and narratives between us, that's what I think” said Chris in a hard tone.
“Listen...” Allie's voice trailed off a few beats. “When she does shift, one thing she may do, she always used to do, is...well, sex. Now that her choices seem like they didn't work out -- “
“Are you actually trying to tell me not to let her jump me? I don't know whether to laugh or hang up on you” said Chris. “Besides, I'm more adept in that regard than you are, hot shot.”
“Okay. Never mind. You taking her for dinner?”
“Yes” said Chris. When she hung up, she blew out her breath before facing Sima.
Sima didn't say anything for a while. She surprised Chris when she didn't ask about Allie's warning. Instead, she said “You know, you stopped owing her years ago for saving you.”
“It's not about toting up scores” said Chris.
“You told me once that white people always keep score” said Sima.
“Maybe I was just talking about you” said Chris, as she stood and left the house.
Ginny spent the afternoon upstairs watching a crew replace the glass wall panel. She carried the painting she'd begun into her varnishing room and left it there, facing the wall. She folded her easel and put it in a cupboard. She threw away the brush she'd been using.
That evening was Monday, Jane and Gillam's date night, and Margie offered for her and Frances to take the children instead of Myra and Ginny. They raided the dress-up box at Jane and Gillam's house, creating explorer costumes, and led the kids out onto Broadway where Frances was Marco Polo showing them the sights of the Silk Road, accompanied by Margo Batiz offering ironic commentary on each new discovery.
Chris and Myra left the house at 5:00, Myra refusing to look in Ginny's direction as she walked out the front door. Chris came to where Ginny sat at the table with a pot of tea and patted her arm, saying “We'll be gone at least a couple of hours. I'm not spending the night, though.”
Franklin had begun sitting on the table next to Ginny. He was there now, his paws tucked under him, eyes half shut. Chris glanced at him but he ignored her.
“Do you want me to bring you something back?” asked Chris.
“No, I'm fine” said Ginny. She wasn't hungry. Chris patted her arm again and left.
The tea was cold. Ginny thought about going to the stove to get more hot water. Instead, she lay her head on her arms, looking sideways at Franklin. A few minutes later, she heard the front door open again. She sat up. From this end of the table, she couldn't see anyone until they were through the foyer and into the hall next to the kitchen. By the time she saw Carly, he was almost to her. Behind him was Eric, carrying bento boxes.
Ginny was on her feet when Carly reached her. He grabbed her into a tight hug. He was less than an inch taller than her, but he was so muscular, she saw him as a tall man. She let him force her close, fighting the need to cry.
“I'm sorry I wasn't here this weekend” he said softly. “I'm here now.”
She couldn't stop the crying, then. “Oh, Carly, I'm the one who's sorry, I'm so terribly sorry -- “
Eric came to hug her from behind, and she cupped his smooth check with one hand bent backward. Ginny's eyes burned, she wasn't sure from exhaustion or chemicals in her tears. She had to stop and wipe them, and sat down abruptly, her muscles demanding release. Carly sat beside her, his arm over her shoulders.
“We brought sushi. And after we eat, we'll turn on your yard lights and go out in the garden with you. Margie said you've not been going out.”
“I feel – It's hard to even leave for her house. It's like I suddenly got agoraphobia” said Ginny.
“Franklin” said Eric sternly. The grey cat shrugged and jumped off the table. Eric carried the teapot into the kitchen for refilling as Carly began opening the bento boxes.
“This place makes real wasabi, not the kind that's mixed from powder” Carly said in a matter of fact tone. “So be careful. We got ika, kani, ebi, and rainbow rolls, because I know you love those.”
“Carly...” said Ginny. When he looked at her, she said “I don't know if I can ask this, but...How is Patty?”
“She thinks she's found the unifying theory which explains why nothing ever worked out with Pat” said Carly dismissively. “Pat has given her three or four different versions already. She's going to play Mom until Mom gets her common sense back. Why don't you tell me what really happened?”
“Oh, honey” said Ginny, putting her hand over his. “I want to. But – I owe Myra first. I mean, I hope you can see that.”
“Where is Myra?” he asked, looking around. “I know she won't eat raw fish, but we have other stuff.”
“She's out. She doesn't eat with me any more. She doesn't talk to me, or even look at me” said Ginny, feeling a lump rise in her throat.
Eric was shocked, she could tell. Gillam hadn't told them everything, then. Ginny wondered what else he'd left out.
The sashimi was excellent, and Carly coaxed, but Ginny ate less than half a meal. There were leftovers, something that never occurred with this kind of take-out. Franklin rubbed Eric's ankles as he stashed uneaten food in the fridge.
“Get your wellies on” Carly said to Ginny.
“I just don't think I can” she said, her cheeks flushed, looking away from him. “I know veggies are going to waste, but...”
“I'll go harvest” said Eric. “You two sit here and talk about my pert, luscious backside as I bend over the rows.”
It drew a smile from Ginny. He gathered clippers, gloves, and a basket, kissing Carly on the mouth as he left. Ginny thought about how much these two laughed together, engaged in horseplay, argued cheerfully, but there was a bone-deep tenderness which never left them. It made her ache inside.
All three kids are bright, strong, have meaningful careers and good marriages she thought. Doesn't this prove that Myra and I must have -- She didn't know how to finish her thought.
Carly had put his hand in hers again. She looked at his fingers and said “When you were born, you had the tiniest hands I'd ever seen, smaller than either of our babies. Your skin was translucent, and your grip was so small you couldn't wrap your fingers around one of my fingers. But even then, I knew you'd be a powerful man someday. A sweet and powerful man.”
He squeezed her hand. She wanted to not have hurt him, his mother, the family that was still his, however much he had claimed hers. She couldn't seem to stop talking.
“About ten days after you were born, we were over there and Patty had gone to sleep, we were sitting with you and Gillam, and I was nursing Gillam. You got fussy, like you were hungry, and Myra went to heat you a bottle of Patty's milk, but after we got you in my lap, swaddled, with your legs over Gillam's, you began pushing at my breast with your face and I told her not to bother, I had plenty. So I fed you and Gillam together. He put his little hand on your chest, glad to share. Glad as I was.”
She could tell she was embarrassing him. She pushed her lips shut.
He asked, “Have you ever told Gillam that story?”
“I don't think so.”
“Then let me be the one. I'll save it for when he's trying to get my goat” said Carly, grinning.
They left before Myra returned, but Carly borrowed paper and wrote Myra a note. He began going upstairs to put it on her desk, and Ginny stopped him.
“She's not going to her study any more. Leave it in the front bedroom” she said. He looked worried again.
“Will you eat the rest of that sushi?” he asked.
“...Probably not. Take it and have it for your lunch tomorrow” she said. “But bless you both for bringing it to me. I – Will you come back soon?”
“Promise” he said.
The DMZ continued for the next several days. Ginny was up by dawn, drinking tea and watching the gate to Margie's. Margie came over early for breakfast, before Frances woke up. After she left, Ginny retreated upstairs to Myra's daybed, leaving the kitchen to Myra who got up late and often didn't eat until lunch, which she mostly ate out with Allie or Chris. Sometimes Edwina or Sima stopped by. Gillam came over before dinner, usually bringing plates for both his mothers, but Myra would not eat anywhere except in her bedroom, so he ate with her in there if he ate with them at all.
Myra's refusal to be in the same room with Ginny was debilitating to everyone.
Margie got Ginny out to see Nancy twice, and could not tell a real difference in Ginny afterward. Margie, and Frances when she wasn't working, also spent as much time as they could with the grandchildren, who were bewildered by the sudden disappearance of their grandmothers. Gillam began looking haggard; Margie was sure he was doing everything he could to keep stress from Jane.
Chris didn't push Myra. She didn't really want to, and she wasn't sure what to say. She just hung out with her. Allie, however, made a point of spending at least a few minutes with Ginny every time she came over, hugging her warmly, and then going in to Myra saying "You can be right or you can be kind, which one you choosing today?" When they went out to eat, she threw a fit if Myra ordered a Coke. "You not sleeping as it is, last thing you need is caffeine, hophead" she told her.
On Thursday, Allie called Chris again at lunch.
"She's cemented in" Allie told Chris.
"There's nothing more shattered than something that's fallen off a pedestal" said Chris.
"Have you heard from Sima what the hell went on between Ginny and Pat?"
"No, Ginny's not really talking about it. I thought maybe you knew -- I mean, you and Ginny are tight. Or Edwina..."
"She's not talked with Edwina, either, and I haven't had a chance to be alone with her -- it'll be a federal issue if I see her and not Myra, and right now, things are tough enough over there" said Allie. "But Myra's got to get some help, make some kind of move. This waiting ain't working."
"I hope you're not expecting me to give her a shove. Not my style, and besides, she's always listened to you, even when it goes against her own inclinations."
Allie shook her head. "She's not listening to me now. She knows how much I love Ginny, for one thing. And for another -- this means revolution, not just a shove. She loves you different than any of us."
"Oh, hell, Allie." Chris was not happy with this assignment.
"It's for her sake, not mine, not Ginny. So, only if you can see it that way" said Allie.
"I'll think about it, best I can offer."
Allie finally grinned. "Your mind and heart -- won't let us down."
That night, Chris showed up at Myra's house at dinnertime with a bag of chili dogs and chocolate milkshakes. Margie let her in and hugged her around the white paper bags in either hand.
"Are you spending the night with her tonight?" Margie asked.
"Yeah. And -- " Chris lowered her voice. "I'm going to talk to her."
"As in, give a talking to?" asked Margie, hope on her face.
"I'll try" said Chris, reluctantly. Ginny wasn't within earshot. "Listen, have you talked with Patty -- has she?"
"No, I called there and got the voice mail, left a message but Patty hasn't called back. I guess being broken up with Pat doesn't change the fact of infidelity back then."
"I guess not. I would never in a million years have believed Ginny would cheat on Myra, and if she was going to, I would never have thought it'd be Pat" said Chris.
"It's like I woke up one day and all the rules had changed" said Margie. "Not my rules, but theirs."
"Yeah, that's what Myra's trying to wrap her mind around. Or, more likely, trying to not wrap her mind around. Listen, I got milkshakes melting here, I should go in."
Margie kissed her cheek. "Thanks so much, Aunt Chris. I love you."
"You too, monkeygirl. I'll talk with you tomorrow." Margie and Ginny left by the back door.
Chris kicked at Myra's door with her feet, saying "Open up, my hands are full."
Myra had on Wheel of Fortune.
"Oh, for god's sake, you've always made fun of that show" said Chris. "If you're going to drug out on TV, at least pick something above the imbecile level."
Myra turned off the TV, then seemed dazed by the silence. Chris said "Ginny's gone over to Margie's, you want to eat at the table like a real person?"
"I got a table in here" said Myra, indicating the folding table she'd set her laptop on.
"Fine. Did you write anything today?"
"No. I found out you can kill the Twin Barons of Hell, though, in God Mode with just a chainsaw if you try hard enough."
"Doom again" sighed Chris, biting into her hot dog.
"I can't find my disk with Wolfenstein on it" said Myra.
"Remember when the kids were little and we'd play tag with 'em in the back yard, and that time you started using the voice of that guy with the machine gun arms from Wolfenstein, saying 'I'm gonna getcha' that way? And Margie started looking for rocks to throw at you and Gillam started crying?"
"Yeah, and they'd never even seen the game" said Myra, smiling bleakly. She was eating, though, not just drinking her shake. That was a good sign.
But then they both remembered that Ginny had come out, picked up Gillam and yelled at them for terrorizing him with a video game. Chris looked at Myra's face; it was blank again.
After a few more bites, Chris said "How much do you know about Nez Perce history, Myra?"
Myra was taken off guard. "Well, I read Jane Gay's memoir, and Archie Phinney's collection. Nez Perce Summer, that you loaned me. The nature guide by Crow and Landee, and Allen Slickpoo's book. The one about Nez Perce women, and several children's books, plus at least two cookbooks -- “
Chris interrupted her. "Relax, you're not about to be tested, I'm just want to tell you something and I need to figure out how much background you need. So, what do you remember about how my family fits into all that?"
"Well -- your mom was born in Idaho, in Lapwai, right? But your dad's family was from the Colville Reservation. Your dad met your mom on a trip to Idaho and married her, then they moved back to the Colville area where you were born. I know your mom is some kind of kin to Lawyer..." Myra's information appeared to run out.
"My dad's name, Kash, comes from someone who was part of the Idaho tribe, I think that ancestor might have even worked with the McBeth sisters. But aside from him, most of my dad's ancestry comes from the folks who ran with Joseph. Whereas my mom's side are all Nimipu who chose to convert with Lawyer and become farmers." Chris was speaking slowly.
"Wow. So, your family is a like a convergence of cultures. Is that part of why your parents were such a bad match?" asked Myra.
"Likely. Aside from the fact that my dad was a drunk, of course" said Chris, grinning without humor.
"Minor detail" said Myra. It was the first attempt at a joke Chris had heard from her in a week.
"So..." said Chris. "My mom was the Catholic one. I mean, my dad was Christian too, at least in name. And he wasn't smart enough to figure out how to buck it, or was too scared, maybe, to find elders who would teach him Dreaming, or Drumming. He had nothing good to say about the Nimipu who gave up our way of life -- he used to say to mom, 'Your people traded 17 million acres for a coward on a cross'. Which would be like stabbing my mom in her heart. But when he wasn't around, she'd talk about how his family had never gotten over being sent to Oklahoma, how they came back here in disgrace a generation later."
Myra was watching her. "Chris...I had no idea, you never told me the things they said. I mean, not about that."
Chris crumpled up the wrapping from her hot dog and said "You know what, My? They were both wrong. Running for Canada was absolutely the right thing for Joseph to have done, and making the best trade he could was also the right thing for Lawyer to have done. We were never a single tribe, we were never a confederation like the Iroquois. We were small bands of kin and kith who each had their own way of connecting to the earth. We were people of the earth, and however anybody found a way to make that connection was good."
Myra wanted to ask Chris what her connection to the earth was, what that felt like, but she could tell Chris wasn't done with her train of thought.
"And you know, it seems like I can't go anywhere around progressives in this region without hearing that damned speech by Joseph, about how he said 'I will fight no more forever', and every single white person I ever knew thinks it's a tragic surrender, his acknowledgment of defeat. But Joseph wasn't beaten. He stopped on his own. He changed course, and he went on from there and did other things. There is no shame on him, not to my mind." Chris's voice was emphatic. Now she turned and looked directly into Myra's eyes.
"Things are never perfect. Sometimes you have to make do, or what feels like making do. It's a Christian idea, shame is. Feeling bad for making a mistake is just a waste of spirit. Or trying to make someone else feel bad."
Myra suddenly saw where Chris was heading. She stared at her in disbelief.
"Myra, you can't throw away three decades because once in all that time, Ginny lied to you."
Myra said, "It wasn't once, it was every day for the last fourteen years."
"No, you're hanging onto that like it was true, but it's not. How she's lived with you, and loved you, raised her children with you, listened to you and believed in you, none of those are lies. It all came from your connection, which is real and undamaged, that's what's true. You just got to see it again."
Myra said, her voice thick, "I can't believe you, of all people, are arguing for Ginny."
"She's loved you better than I could" Chris said. Myra dodged that statement.
"Acts of omission are just as damaging as blows" said Myra. "Her not telling me truth all this time is just as bad as the original -- " she stopped because she couldn't bring herself to name what Ginny had done with Pat. Not unless she was shouting.
"Ah, crap, are you trying to quote Judy Grahn at me? About how her not staying with the black guy on the bridge, or with that old woman in the snow, or the whore, about how all those acts were betrayals because they were sins of omission? Well, then, look at what she's saying, you bozo: She's saying it was a failure to not stay with them, to bond with them, to stand by them -- it was walking away that was the sin. What do you think Judy Grahn would say about your situation? 'Lover leave you, go find another?' Nuh-uh, not at our age. She'd say climb out of the fucking armored tank, reach in and pull out your buddies too, because they are your lovers, and wade to the shoreline. No matter how it looks or feels. You know what's right here, Myra. You just don't want to have to face it, because it will mean going back to Ginny knowing she's been with someone else besides you. Well, waaah-waaah, why don't you just open your veins and be done with it?"
Myra gaped at her in complete shock.
Chris stood up, gathered their wrappers and cups, and carried them to the trash can. When she came back, she sat down next to Myra and laid her arm over Myra's shoulders.
"That's all I have to say, Myra. I'm not out to force you to change your mind, I just wanted to say that much. What you wanna do now? Would you like to go out somewhere, maybe a movie?"
Myra was reeling. She struggled to find her voice. Finally she said "Could we go walk somewhere? Maybe Golden Gardens, along the water, if it's safe this time of night?"
"Ain't noplace completely safe. But yeah, I know a spot that's good. Put on shoes and socks. I'm leaving a note for Ginny and Margie 'cause we might be back late."
© 2008 Maggie Jochild.
(1937 KoolAid ad)
When fire sweeps through an abandoned building that's been used as a crack house and a meth lab, it's a given that the vermin infesting its interior walls will go up in flames, unable to escape.
But if they know the end is coming -- if, say, they have around 20 days to pack their bags, delete their emails, and trade in their roachy exoskeletons for Men's Wearhouse suits -- what might they be doing instead of the jobs they never really performed anyhow?
Well, let's begin by reviewing the ground rules of the current generation of lying liars and the lies which limn their libidos and line their lucre-filled lairs:
(1) Ends justify means.
(2) Make yourself believe the lies you're telling.
(3) Grandiose, for lack of a better term, is good.
(4) Demonstrate integrity by admitting the things you cannot deny anyhow, but claim other apparent realities are "not as bad as it looks".
(5) Stick together, even when you hate each other.
Thus, in the past week, we have the Condi and Laura show, where Dubya's wifemeets are trotting around declaiming that "history" will prove he was not the soulless destroyer of America who shredded the Constitution with his Crawford chainsaw and used the remnants to fuse gasoline-filled bottle bombs lobbed into the Middle East. They are stamping their Prada-shod feet in unison and declaring the press to be bullies.
It's almost entertaining, like the opening segment of a 50's sitcom:
Where Condi adores a minuet
To watch ballet with Soviets
Laura wants to hide inside
With ciggies and her Pearl Drop Vibe
What a wild duet
Still they're Dubya's
They're shackled to Dubya, with no doubt
Choosing to back a loser
Keeps them from coming out
The second act in the Save Junior's Legacy (oh, and our careers, of course) campaign appears to have been unveiled yesterday, with strategic "candid" admissions by former Bush fecal ingestion appurtenances Matthew Dowd and Dan Bartlett that Bush "broke his bond with the public" in his handling of Katrina and was never trusted after that.
Gee, ya think?
These two, and others, were interviewed by Vanity Fair for an oral history of the White House in its February issue, which hits newsstands tomorrow. An AP article on the forthcoming "revelations" also quotes Lawrence Wilkerson as comparing Bush's foreign affairs expertise to that of Sarah Palin, implying he was manipulated from the outset by Cheney. And, in another shocker, David Kuo says leaders of the Religious Right were held in contempt by cynical high-level Bushies, who viewed them as "pains in the butt" which had to be accommodated but did not share their beliefs.
In other news, there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
Folks, this is not the story we are going to settle for, is it? We want the goods, the whole nine yards. We want hearings and handcuffs and moist towelettes afterward to clean their slime from the doorknobs. They're giving us sops, and the next thing coming out of their mouths will be -- guess what?
I'm reminded of the song "Beware, Young Ladies", whose lyrics were taken from an 1847 poem by Longfellow and set to music with sly humor by Blind Alfred Reed in the 1930s. In the 1970s, lesbian-feminist singer/songwriter Alix Dobkin resurrected the song, again with humor, and it became something we political dykes sang with each other about the dishonesty of not only "bold and free" young men but the patriarchal system as a whole:
"They put their hands up to their hearts
They sigh, Oh they sigh,
They say they love no one but you
They lie, Oh they lie"
I say we should caulk every escape hatch, give a whole new generation of young prosecutors some hands-on training, restore America's reputation with live international broadcast of the Bush War Crimes Tribunal, and make use of our poker skills by watching for the tell which means someone in this administration is lying: Their lips are moving.
[Cross-posted at Group News Blog.]
(Postcard from Stella Marrs)
Jennifer Vanasco, editor-in-chief at 365Gay.com, has compiled her list of the "8 top gay (sic) videos of 2008", stating "This year, gay videos were viral." I'm not going re-embed them all these (we've already covered some of them in GNB posts), but I will list them below with links.
1. Prop 8: The Musical! [covered by me in Civil Rights, Baby: Complacent No More.]
2. MSBNC talk show host Keith Olbermann devoted his "special comment" on November 11, 2008 to the issue of lesbian/gay marriage, asking those who voted for Proposition 8 and similar measures, "Why does this matter to you? What is it to you?".
3. When Sally Kern, Oklahoma State Legislator, thought she was speaking off mic and compared lesbians/gays to terrorists, The Victory Fund responded.
4. Talk show hosts -- Ellen Degeneres takes on John McCain
and Jon Stewart takes on Mike Huckabee
with bonus round Ellen Degeneres discusses Sarah Palin's stand on marriage.
5. In a PSA for ThinkB4YouSpeak, Wanda Sykes jumps on the hateful jeer of "That's so gay". [Note: This was before she came out at an anti-Prop (h)8 rally.]
6. Rachel Maddow discusses the "black vote for Prop (h)8" in California. [Note: I posted about this in No Racism: African-Americans Are Not Who Funded and Passed Prop (h)8.]
7. During the Vice Presidential debate, Vice President-elect Joe Biden said that lesbian/gay marriage rights are enshrined in the Constitution. And, as a bonus
SNL/Tina Fey re-enact the debate as only they can.
8. On BloggingHeadsTV, law professors Jack Balkin and Ann Althouse debate whether heterosexuals should lose marriage rights, too.
[Cross-posted at Group News Blog.]
Here's the weekly best of what I've gleaned from I Can Has Cheezburger efforts. There are some really creative folks out there. As usual, those from little gator lead the pack.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
(Phoebe Buffay singing "Smelly Cat")
Last night Jesse and I were in hysterics on the phone singing "Smelly Cat" a la Phoebe Buffay's music video. Jesse was especially good at imitating the sultry back-up singers repeating "smelly, smelly, smelly, smelly cat" while I wailed "It's not your faullllt!"
Today a good friend (with a long background as a management consultant) wrote me about Lisa Kudrow's latest body of work, which I'd not seen. She plays a "web therapist" named Fiona Wallace, and I'm happy to say this new character clearly proves Phoebe was not just a product of stellar writing. Here's the link to one episode, titled "Psycho Analysis", costarring the extraordinary Jane Lynch (whom I can never forget for her portrayal of the butch dog handler in Best In Show). Enjoy. Then go take a relaxed dump, for g*d's sakes, people.
Friday, December 26, 2008
Here's another installment of my Great American Lesbian Novel (in progress), Ginny Bates. If you are new to reading GB, go to the section in the right-hand column labeled Ginny Bates to read background and find out how to catch up.
Late April 2018
As Gillam pulled out his phone, Margie walked toward the kitchen. Myra looked like she might hit Ginny, but Ginny wasn't budging. Myra didn't seem to be able to bring herself to brush by Ginny and leave. Finally, she backed up to the counter and leaned against it, breathing heavily. Her entire body was shaking, with rage, Margie thought.
"I won't let you leave me" said Ginny. "You're the only woman I've ever wanted -- "
"Fuck you!" said Myra. "You wanted Pat, so go rot..in..hell."
"I didn't want her. I didn't love her, it wasn't like that."
"Then why did you fuck her?"
"I didn't fuck her. It was a one-time sexual thing."
"You lying sack of shit, every single thing you've done since then is a lie. Every minute we've been together is a lie. I cannot believe you let her, that skank, put her hands -- "
Myra rushed to the sink and vomited abruptly, huge retches. Ginny opened the dishtowel drawer and pulled out a clean towel, then went to the sink to wet it. Myra shoved a hand up toward her in a halt motion, still heaving, and Ginny stopped. She leaned over and put the towel on the edge of the sink. After a few more gasps, Myra stopped gagging and leaned on the counter, her face on her hands. Then she stood up, moving slowly, and turned on the tap. As the water began washing her puke down the drain, she looked at it and vomited again.
Gillam had sat down in the chair where Ginny had been. His face was chalky. Margie put her arm across her shoulders. She whispered to him again "We have to not leave them alone with this."
"Hurry, Allie" he whispered back.
Finally Myra was able to stand up straight again. She turned on the tap but didn't look this time. She wet the towel and wiped her face with it. Not looking at Ginny, she said "We're done. You killed us. I'll never trust you again. You left me, you left our commitment, you broke your fundamental promise to me, so I'm leaving you, too."
"No!" shrieked Ginny. "No, no, I never left you! I can't live without you, I can't -- " She fell to the floor, sitting at first, weeping crazily, then lay backward and began slamming her head and fists against the flagstone. After a second, Margie rushed to her and slid her hands under Ginny's head. She eased her lap under Ginny's head, and let Ginny keep crying and pounding the floor with her hands and feet.
Myra backed up to the counter again, as if repelled by this display. After a minute, she lifted herself up onto the counter and sat there, watching Ginny coldly.
Ginny screamed until her voice was hoarse. Then she began saying "I'm sorry, my god, I'm so sorry" and weeping into Margie's lap. She turned sideways, curled up in a fetal position. Margie stroked her head.
Gillam finally got up and walked to the kitchen. He stepped carefully over Ginny and stood in from of Myra, looking into her brown eyes with his own. He said softly "You can't live without her either, Mama."
Myra stared at him. "I won't ever trust her again."
"You have to. You'll never be happy unless you do."
"Gillam, you're just a kid, you don't know what this means."
"I'm your son, Mama, but I'm not a kid. I'm a man. I have a wife, four children, soon to be five. I've grown into manhood on the love you two have. You need to find a way back to her. You need to do it for your sake."
"I can't" whispered Myra. "She's broken us."
"Then we'll repair it." He put his arms around her and pulled her head onto his tall shoulder. "Lean on me, Mama. We're a family, we can do this."
Myra's face lay on his shoulder, and she saw the stubble of his beard, the thick muscles of his neck. She could hear the deepness of his voice. He wasn't her baby boy any more, not in a single way. Suddenly she began crying. The sobs tore out of her, actually causing pain to her throat. She clung to Gillam and raged, wailed, making sounds he'd never heard. He stood steady, holding her tight. After a long time, she slowed down, then stopped. He lifted the corner of his shirt and wiped her face. She stared at him, as if she'd never seen him before.
Ginny was sitting up, watching them, Margie kneeling beside her. When they heard the front door open, all of them turned to look. Allie came into the front hall and walked solidly into the kitchen. Ginny scrambled to her feet, facing Allie. Allie came directly to her and put her arms around Ginny. Ginny began weeping again. Allie said "I love you, Ginny. I can't believe you did something this stupid, and I do want to hear your story. But I have to go to Myra first. You understand that, right?" Ginny nodded, still weeping. Allie kissed her cheek and said again "I love you." Then she pulled away from Ginny and faced Myra. Gillam had stepped to the side, and they could see each other full, Allie and Myra.
Allie stopped a foot in front of Myra and said, in a very gentle voice, "Did you throw your phone at Ginny?"
"I -- I hit the wall with it" said Myra.
"But were you aiming at Ginny?"
"I don't know. I didn't care."
"You don't get to do that" said Allie. "You don't get to hurt her. I don't care what's happened. You are to never do that again. Do you understand me?"
Myra stared at her. Finally she nodded. Then she said "I need to come stay with you."
"No. You are not moving out of this house."
"Yes, I am. If you won't have me, I'll go to a motel."
"No, Myra. This house is huge and has two floors. You can both live here. You're not running from this. I'll help you every way I can, but you have to face it."
"I hate her, Allie." Myra's voice was thick with revulsion. Ginny turned away; Margie led her back to the table and sat her down.
"I know. You'll have to live with it until it becomes something else and you can figure out what to do. You can't aim your anger at her, though."
They all heard a cell phone ringing and looked around. It was Gillam's. He read the dial and walked into the living room, saying “Jane...” The rest was muffled.
Margie said “Where's Edwina?”
“Day long seminar” said Allie. “I left her a message. Myra, how about if we go see Nancy? Right now?”
Myra was clearly having trouble thinking. She stared at Allie for a minute, then said “I...What if she knows about this? What if Ginny told her?”
“I hope Ginny did tell her, I hope Ginny has not lived with this alone all this time. What difference does it make to you and Nancy? She keeps patient confidentiality, you count on that” said Allie.
“Not this. This is too much for her to have kept from me.”
Allie knew the rage Myra was showing was just the outer layer. Underneath lay terror and paralyzing abandonment. Allie turned and looked at Ginny's face, which told her that Nancy had, in fact, been informed.
“I need to call Chris, she'll let me go stay with her -- “ said Myra suddenly.
“No, she won't. Not when I talk to her. Myra, you run here and you may not get another chance from god, you hear me? You built this house, you not gonna leave it.”
“I won't sleep with her. Or talk to her.”
“Fine. We can make a nest for you in the front bedroom here.”
Gillam came back to the kitchen and said “I need to go help Jane, Mimi just fell down and busted her lip. I'll – I'll be back.”
Allie nodded at him. Myra was heading for the front stairs, and Allie followed her. Myra went into her and Ginny's bedroom and pulled the largest suitcase from the closet shelf. She packed it full of her clothes and handed it to Allie with her pillow. She took a smaller case and cleaned all her toiletries and toothbrush from the bathroom. She walked back into her study and packed a briefcase full of folders, notebooks, disks, and reference materials. She retrieved her laptop and power cord from the cabinet beside her desk, and carried all these items downstairs, calling Keller as she went. She walked past Margie and Ginny at the dining table, never looking their way, went into the front bedroom and shut the door after Keller was in the room with her.
Allie looked at the closed door a minute. She pulled out her phone and called somebody, leaving a message – likely Chris. Then she went into the bedroom after Myra.
Ginny was immobile and mute, even when Margie hugged her from behind. After a while, Margie got the phone book from the kitchen and sat down next to Ginny with her cell, making calls to get the upstairs window replaced as soon as possible. She asked "Mama, who is it you've used for reupholstery work?" When she got that name, she called them and requested they come get Ginny's daybed that afternoon, if possible. After she hung up, Ginny said blankly "Why are you re-covering the daybed?"
"It's got glass in the leather now, Mama. Do you want us to go out and choose the leather for it?"
"No. Ask them to match it as best they can" said Ginny dully.
"We need to stay here until the window folks come. I'm going to make us something to eat" said Margie.
"I"m not hungry" said Ginny. "Margie, what am I doing to do?"
"You're going to eat, first of all. Then you need to call Nancy, and -- who's that therapist you had for a while?"
"Xona" said Ginny, with a small eerie laugh. "She's who I went to right after -- it happened. I guess I can tell her the jig is up."
"And you need to call your friends. Edwina, don't leave it all up to Allie. And Chris and Sima."
Ginny laughed again, this time caustic. "Chris will be glad to hate my guts for this."
"She will not, Mama. Call Kip, too.”
Ginny stared at her. “The last person on earth I can possibly lean on right now.”
“Cathy, then. Here, make the calls."
"I can't, Margie. I really can't." Ginny lay her head on her arms.
"I'll call Nancy, then, at least. And what's Xona's last name, is she listed?"
As Margie made a second round of calls, Myra emerged from the bedroom. Ginny sat upright. Myra went up the front stairs and into the small guest room upstairs. She came back down with the 15 inch TV/DVD player in her arms, the cord trailing behind her. She carried that into the front bedroom and set it down on the floor, then turned and looked at Ginny. Margie hung up on Edwina's voice mail.
"I need to know when" said Myra, a harsh tone in her voice. "When did you fuck Pat?"
Margie flinched, but Ginny seemed to be beyond injury.
"I didn't fu-- " But Myra looked murderous, and Ginny interrupted herself. "In 2004." When Myra still stood there, expectant, Ginny added "February 13th."
Myra's face registered disbelief. "The day before Valentine's Day?"
"That's how I remember the date. Otherwise, believe me, I wouldn't" said Ginny.
Myra's face registered memory. "That's the night you didn't come to bed. I didn't know when you got in. That's why, isn't it?"
Ginny didn't answer.
Allie appeared in the doorway next to Myra. "Let's go sit down, My, all of us talk together" she said gently.
"No fucking way" said Myra, standing apart from Allie and not taking her cold stare off Ginny. "That was just a month after Margie was -- raped. We were in such heartache then, all of us. Gillam was freaking the fuck out, not just Margie. And you were giving me shit, constant shit, refusing to talk with me about what was really going on. So that's why you fucked around on me, I guess, to pay me back for somehow not fixing everything right away."
"No, Myra. That's not what happened" said Ginny, standing up.
"I'm not interested in hearing one more lie from you" said Myra, turning her back and going into the bedroom. They heard her say to Allie "Please close that door."
After a moment's hesitation, Allie waved the "I love you sign" at Margie and Ginny, and gently shut the door between them.
Ginny sat back down. Margie was rattled by the information Myra had just extracted from Ginny. She didn't know what to make of it, and set it aside. She dialed Edwina again and left a message on her voice mail. Then she called Sima's cell. Sima answered.
When Margie told her what was going on, Sima went completely silent. Finally Margie asked, "Are you still there?"
Sima said "You need to be the one to tell this to Chris." She handed the phone to Chris, and Margie had to repeat it all. Ginny had her head back down on her arms. Chris did not meet the news with silence. She began swearing, violently and lengthily. Then she said "Allie's there now?"
"Yes. She's helping Mama -- Myra -- get set up in the front bedroom. She won't let Mama move out yet."
Chris said "She knows Myra like I do. Once Myra starts walking away, she's gone. But I wouldn't blame her a bit in this case."
Margie took a deep breath. "They need your help, Aunt Chris. I -- me and Gillam, we need your help. It's our family..."
There was a long silence, then Chris said "Okay, baby girl. I hear you. Tell Myra when Allie leaves, to call me, I'll come over and spend the night with her if Allie doesn't. Whatever you need from me, you got. Tell Gillam that, too. I -- I don't want to talk to Ginny right now, but I will, I'll get there. I think Sima will talk to her right now, if she wants to."
"I'll give her the phone. I love you, Aunt Chris."
"I love you, too, Margie. We'll -- we'll find a way through this."
Margie handed the phone to Ginny. Ginny just listened for a long time, occasionally answering with a single syllable. Finally she handed the phone back to Margie.
Sima said to Margie "She sounds like a zombie."
"Yeah, pretty much. I'm going to feed her and sit here until the repair folks come, then I'll take her home for a while. But she needs to stay in the house, too, with Mama. I think Aunt Allie is right about that."
"I told her I'd come for breakfast tomorrow. I need a little time to process this. But if you need to call me tonight, I'm here."
"Okay, Aunt Sima. I hear somebody out front, I need to run. Thanks."
The window crew took measurements, removed glass from the frame and swept the floor with a shop vac, and covered the hole with a tarp. They said they would have to come back the next day to replace the window because the glass had to be cut to order. As they were leaving, a moving crew from the upholstery shop arrived and took the daybed away.
Margie made eggs and toast, along with tea, and coaxed half a meal into Ginny. She went to the front bedroom and talked briefly with Myra and Allie. Then she went upstairs and got thick socks, a pair of sandals, and some pants for Ginny. When Ginny stood up, she yelped in pain and sat back down abruptly.
"Lean on me, Mama. Don't put any weight on it at all, if you can" said Margie. They limped out the back door and walked over to Margie's house. After half an hour, Gillam joined them in Margie's kitchen.
“She looks horrific but it doesn't need stitches, Jane says. We have a call in to her pediatrician about antibiotics. The nurse said to put on ice and give her some Tylenol. I can't stay long. Mama, will you please tell me what happened?” Gillam's tone was short, and Margie didn't know what emotion he was suppressing.
“You mean about – back then?” asked Ginny. “No. I have to tell Myra first. I've done this wrong in every possible way, I have to start doing it right now, and that means telling her the whole story.”
Gillam paused before saying “I don't think she's going to listen to you, Mama. Not – in the foreseeable future.”
“Then I'll wait. It has nothing to do with you kids” said Ginny.
After another long pause, Gillam said “Do you want to come visit Mimi, hold her a while?”
Ginny looked stricken. “I can't” she whispered. “I can't...What are you going to tell them?”
“That you and Mom are having a hard time. I'll probably lie and said you feel bad, and you need time to get all well again” said Gillam, despair leaking into his eyes. “Listen...Have you talked with Carly?”
“Oh, god. No. But Patty said she was about to call him” said Ginny, despondent again.
“Then I'll call him, too. Don't worry, he'll be fine” said Gillam. Margie didn't believe him. “I have to get back home. I'll – I'll keep checking in you. Both.”
Frances left the restaurant for an hour during the dinner service, to bring back a meal for Ginny and Margie, sitting to eat with them, mute and more sympathetic than anyone else had appeared. When she went back to work, Margie walked Ginny back home. Franklin met them at the door, a little wild-eyed. "I bet the tarp is flipping him out" said Margie.
"Not just the tarp" said Ginny briefly.
They made tea and sat at the dining table for a while. Allie's car was gone but Chris's had taken her place. They could hear the TV on in the front bedroom. After a few minutes, Margie knocked on the bedroom door. She went in for a minute. Chris followed her out, gave Ginny a long hug, and sat down to chat with them all. They dodged the obvious topic. When Myra did not come out to join them, Ginny slowly deflated. After a while, Chris stood up and said "I need to get back in there."
Margie left at 10:00 because Ginny lied to her, saying she felt sleepy. Once she was gone, Ginny walked up the back and, as quickly as she could, got a blanket and her pillow from her and Myra's bedroom. She lay down on Myra's daybed, leaving the lights off and trying to ignore the flapping of the tarp. Eventually Franklin joined her, pushing close against her chest and watching the dark spot in the glass wall with suspicion. She slept only in patches.
The next morning, Sima let herself in and made them breakfast. At one point, Sima said "I don't understand how you could have -- I mean, Pat, of all people."
"I didn't choose it" said Ginny. "I did it, but it wasn't desire on my part."
"Then I really don't understand" said Sima, putting her hand over Ginny's.
"There's nothing to understand" said Ginny. "I have no excuse."
"Is that why you didn't tell Myra?"
"I just -- I thought she'd leave me. We were already on rocky ground. I couldn't face -- losing her."
After a long silence, Ginny said "I can't face it now, either. But looks like I have to." She wanted Sima to reassure her, tell her that Myra would come around, there was a way to fix this. When Sima didn't say anything, Ginny pushed her plate away, suddenly sick to her stomach.
Margie, meanwhile, was having breakfast with Gillam and his family. After they ate, she and Gillam retreated to his and Jane's bedroom for privacy.
Margie told him what little she knew about the events of the past. He was pale, with a pinched mouth. "I just don't get it" he kept saying. Then "I still don't know what to do."
"You did pretty good in the kitchen, there, little brother. You stood up to Myra the steamroller" said Margie with a sad grin.
"Jane's five months pregnant, you know" he said. "She's been more or less pregnant for five years. I have four children under the age of five. School won't be out for another month. We really count on them to help out. Losing that help, plus needing to keep them going -- I'm scared, Margie."
"Me, too. Well, listen, can you eat dinner with one of them if there isn't someone else to do it? Even if it's brief. I'll make sure they get lunch. I figure Allie or Chris will alternate evenings with Myra. I haven't gotten Sima or Edwina to commit to time with Ginny yet -- Ginny's getting the short end of the stick, even her best friends are kinda -- well, they don't get it, either, I guess. But I'm making sure she sees Nancy, which is more than any of us can get Myra to commit to. Myra is just dug in. Watching TV too much."
"I guess the potluck is off for tonight” said Gillam.
“No, you should go ahead with whoever can be here” said Margie. “I'll come by for part of it. It's going to be bad enough with the kids not seeing their grandmothers, I'll help take up more slack. So will Frances, she said."
He looked up at her gratefully. "Thanks, Margie. How long -- what do you think is going to happen here?"
"I can't believe they'll actually break up. I can't imagine it. But Myra -- well, you saw her. Ginny did the one thing Myra can't get past. Not the sex, although that's bad enough, and with Pat, that's about the worst. But it's the lying all this time. You know how she is about honesty."
"A steel cage" agreed Gillam. "Listen, this room is soundproofed, I can't hear what's going on out there, I need to check on Jane and the kids."
"One more thing, Gillam -- have you talked with Carly?"
Gillam stopped. "Yeah. He had just heard from Patty. He's actually down in Olympia right now, visiting with her."
"How is she? And Carly, and Truitt, for that matter? I'm assuming Pat spilled the beans to Patty."
"No, Pat spilled the beans to Truitt, while she was drunk one night and calling people, waking them up. He sat on it for a while. Then when he heard Patty talking about coming to their anniversary party, he decided to tell Patty because, as Carly reported it, Truitt didn't think it was ethical to keep silent." Gillam's voice was scornful.
"Truitt who's taken Pat's side way too much of the time" commented Margie. "What does Carly think?"
"He's mad at Pat, as he should be. He's worried about Patty, but that's chronic for him. I know for a fact he's not mad at Ginny." Gillam trailed off.
"Not as mad as you are?" asked Margie quietly.
"I'm trying not to be. I mean, I don't know the whole story, for one thing. And Mom's -- Myra's reaction, that was nuts. I've only been married five years, but I already know you just have to be ready for the unthinkable, somewhere along the line."
Margie smiled. "We're in better shape than they were. And -- we're not stuck on monogamy, are we?"
He looked at her keenly. "Not so much" he agreed.
"Okay, well, tell Carly I apologize on Ginny's behalf. One thing I'm sure of, she never meant to hurt Patty. Or Myra. Or us."
Gillam took a step toward the door and said "Yeah, I'm sure of that too. That helps, Margie, to be reminded of it." He opened the door and they heard screaming children. He walked rapidly toward the fracas.
© 2008 Maggie Jochild.