Thursday, April 3, 2008


Another excerpt from my novel-in-progress, Ginny Bates. If you are already a familiar reader, begin below. The action in the story resumes immediately after my post two days ago. If you need background, check the links in the sidebar on the right, fifth item down, to get caught up.

First week in December 2007

David had been scheduled to arrive two days later, to celebrate the last days of Chanukah with them and bring the canvases he was considering for display at the local gallery "Bates in Three Generations" exhibit. However, he called to ask Ginny if she would do the work of selection for him. Nate and Elyse had just informed the rest of the family that they, with their two small daughters, were moving to New York at the New Year -- Nate had a major job advancement available there, and Elyse longed to live in New York. David was "crushed", according to Ginny. His relationship with the girls would be truncated severely; children that age need regular contact to keep a connection going.

Ginny spent an hour on the phone with him, going over his options for the show. He shipped out half a dozen canvases the following day, and the next few days it was "all art, all the time" in their household. Myra was finally called into active service again as a driver. She'd taken her first turns behind the wheel post-surgery in June at the beach, putting their rental car into gear and letting it cruise barely above idle down the deserted sandy strand, returning to the house drenched in sweat. From there she had progressed to neighborhood jaunts, and now was ready for the demands of Seattle traffic again. She was sent back and forth from the matting and framing place Ginny preferred -- not nearby -- multiple times as Margie, Gillam, and Ginny finalized their decisions.

The day before the opening on the 15th, that Friday morning David flew in and spent the rest of the day at the gallery with Ginny, helping hang and keep her calm. Myra and the kids met them there after school, where Gillam couldn't stop reading and re-reading his mention in the program and Margie asked twice why she didn't have as much wall space as Ginny.

It was a grand success. Myra half-hoped Jules Lefkowitz would show up for this opening as well, but apparently she'd had enough of Ginny. The drawing by David of the black skimmers plus the painting of Gillam and Margie in the surf as children both rated a mention in the newspaper review, although they of course were not for sale. Another of David's paintings did sell, as well as two each of Margie and Gillam's works for a few hundred dollars apiece. It was David's first sale, and he cried when he got home.

Ginny's newest work was not all on display, because it wasn't dried or varnished yet, but all three of those she did hang sold for crazy sums of money, as well as several older pieces. She was giddy with the implications of it: "It will be almost all new stuff at Liza's gallery, except for the classics she wants me to show but I'd never sell."

"They like you, they really like you" grinned Myra.

David returned to Denver on Monday afternoon to spend his last two weeks in the same town with his great-granddaughters. Margie was now on winter break, and after a day at home, where she mostly slept and played music, Ginny said "If you want Gary to come for a visit, we can put him up in the spare room."

Myra waited for the argument about whether or not Gary could sleep in Margie's bed, as she presumed they did in Olympia, but Margie looked away and said "Ahh...we're not really seeing each other any more."

"Since when?" said Ginny. "You were together at Thanksgiving." Her voice sounded accusatory to Myra's ears.

"Yeah, right after that. I broke up with him" said Margie casually, thought not convincingly.

Ginny opened her mouth but closed it again. Myra said "Would you like to talk about it?"

"Not really" said Margie.

"Okay. Well, if you change your the meantime, what are your plans for your break?" asked Myra.

Margie looked at them, a little surprised. "Hang out here. I mean, help you all out, of course. See Amy and other friends. Nothing major."

Ginny regained her composure. "That will be wonderful. We can have lots of family time this holiday."

Which wasn't precisely what Margie had said, but it went unchallenged.

That night at dinner, Myra paused while eating and looked across at Margie to ask "Are you still glad you had that boy charged and sent away?" She couldn't remember his name right at the moment, but Margie knew instantly who she meant. She looked a little wary as she replied "Yeah. No regrets. Why, have you heard something?"

"You mean, about what he's doing? No" said Myra. "I'm asking because I need to figure out whether to file a suit against the anesthesiologist, for six months of lost income at the least."

"I think you should" injected Gillam vehemently.

Margie was also nodding. Myra continued "Well, it's more complicated than that. Ain't it always. We talked with our lawyer, and she says we'd have to file suit against not only him, but also Dr. Desai and the other surgeon plus the hospital. Partly for discovery, partly because the courts is where assignation of blame gets sorted out, so everybody has to be accused. And I don't want to do that to Dr. Desai. It will raise her insurance premiums for no damned reason, to cover the legal costs, and they'll never go back down. It'll raise everybody's costs, and most of that will get passed on to other patients in the long run."

Ginny said "Still, we'd like some answers. And if he was negligent, we want him to be confronted with the need to change his behavior."

"I want him to suffer like you did" said Gillam.

Myra smiled at him and said quietly "No, you don't. You don't wish that on anybody." After a long pause, she said "And, it turns out, there's more than one way to skin a cat. Sorry, Beebo. I've been making notes about my experience. It's what I do as a diversion from working on the novel. Which, by the way, is going better than I expected. I'm way slower in my writing speed than I used to be, but that's not altogether a bad change. Anyhow, I got a call this afternoon from a free-lance writer who does a lot of articles for places like Harper's and Atlantic Monthly, especially about medical issues. She's interested in doing a long piece about what happened to me -- she's read my poem which got printed, and she wants to compare my experience to Stephen King and Maxine Kumin. Sort of like, writers who get clobbered and how they process it."

Ginny said "I still think you ought to be the one to wrote your own story."

"Well, I will, Ginny. Though it may not be a first person narrative like that, it may be a series of poems full of symbolism, you know? The advantage to letting her do it is the publicity to me and, more significantly, the fact that if she's being a reporter, she can name names without getting her ass sued off. If she does it right. So that doctor's error will become way more public than from a court case. Plus, if I sign a waiver stating I'll never sue her or anybody connected with it, Dr. Desai could be interviewed as well and give her slant on what happened." The more Myra talked about it, the more she liked this idea. Letting someone else advocate for her was something she was learning to enjoy.

She watched her children digesting these options. As if out of nowhere, Margie said "Jaime is in town, too, for the holidays. I'm going to have lunch with him tomorrow."

Myra made the connection and grinned at her. "Give him our love, and if you want to invite him to dinner, either alone or with others, feel free." Margie focused on her plate after a brief nod.

The holidays were sweeter than Myra felt she'd ever known. She switched back and forth from baking to writing, while Ginny had long conversations with Allie or Liza about her entire body of work. Gillam had his 17th birthday with a dance party upstairs, Carly in town and a dozen kids from Gillam's school attending, half of them girls. Myra used her new recording phone to make mini-disk copies for herself of the interviews conducted by the journalist writing about her brain fart, as she thought of it. At least once a day, she considered what her life would be like if she had not been able to bounce back. She needed to talk with Ginny about it, but she kept putting it off.

The week after New Year's, when Myra had gotten up and was eating breakfast, Ginny joined her and waited until Myra had a few bites in her stomach before beginning with "I'd like to talk about my birthday next month."

"Okay. Got something to request?" said Myra, peeling an orange.

"Yes. A present. A huge present" said Ginny. She was picking at her cuticles and not looking directly at Myra.

"Out with it" said Myra.

Ginny did look up at her then. "I want Daddy to come live with us."

Myra set down her orange. "You're right -- that's big." She swallowed what was in her mouth, then said "Have you -- does he want to live with us?"

"I haven't asked him, no, of course not until I talked with you. But he's lonely in his apartment, Cathy is busy with her friends and, well, they were never as close as he and I are. And I think having him in the house would be great for Gillam."

"Gillam's only here for another year and a half, then he's going to college" said Myra. Her tone was not argumentative -- she didn't completely hate the idea right off the bat, which was interesting. "I guess we'd give David the spare bedroom down here? So he won't have to deal with stairs?"

"Yeah. We can arrange for time alone, me and you, more than we have now if you want, but he'd still have the solace of family meals. He genuinely loves our friends, loves Carly, and I think Seattle would be easier on his joints than Denver winters. And I'd set up a second easel for him in my studio..." Ginny was trying to sell this.

"But I share that creative space with you, Ginny, it's not just your studio. So -- no more nookie on the daybeds when Gillam is at school. No more naked swimming for me. And yes, our friends love him, too, but he's an old white guy sometimes, you know?"

"I know" Ginny said, looking at Myra keenly.

"And if he becomes disabled, which we all face if we live long enough, god willing, then we'll need to hire help, another person full-time in the house" said Myra.

"You're right on all counts" said Ginny. She put one hand over Myra's.

"I guess you can tell, I won't be able to say no to this. Not just for your sake, but for his and for us, our family. It's our values, our dyke values -- family matters. At least the ones you choose and who choose you, and he's hung in there with us. So -- yeah, ask him. I'll talk to him after you do, make sure he knows it's not charity, it's expanding our household with intent and love" said Myra.

Ginny put Myra's palm against her own cheek and began crying quietly.

"I did know you'd say yes" she whispered. "But I had such a hard time asking, because it will mean a huge change for us. And I want you more than ever, each year I want you more."

"Back atcha" said Myra.

After breakfast, Ginny went to the phone at Myra's desk to make the call. Instead of joining her, Myra took a long bath, turning things over in her mind. Just as she was drying off, Ginny came into the bathroom.

"Shut the door, you're letting out all the warm steamy air" said Myra.

"Here, let me dry your back" said Ginny.

"So -- what did he say?"

"He wants to talk with you. And with Gillam. But, angel, I could tell he's deeply moved and I think he's gonna jump at it, if he's convinced you really mean it." Ginny pulled Myra into a hug from behind.

"I need to talk with Allie and Chris" said Myra, sliding around in Ginny's arms to face her.

"Maybe after dinner on Friday, the three of you can go off alone" said Ginny.

"That'll work. You already dried that spot, Ginny" said Myra.

"Let me drop the towel, then, and just use my hand" said Ginny, grinning.

"I'm making a dash for the bed, come keep me from getting chilled" said Myra.

That night when they told Gillam, his whole body radiated joy. And something else, Myra thought -- maybe relief. Which made her heart ache. After dinner, he went off to call Carly and Myra settled in at her desk to call her friends.

She got Allie first. Allie's reaction was "Huh." Myra waited. Then "I bet Gillam's happy."

"He is, Al. So much that I feel bad for not having brought David here sooner."

"Well, I can't complain. Not after how you all took in my mama, and supported me" said Allie.

"Sure you can. I plan to complain when I need to. He better not pee on the toilet seat, I'll say that up front" Myra laughed. "Besides which, Allie, your mama was -- well, she was a she, and helped even up the ranks race-wise."

"And this goes the other direction. Glad to hear you thinking 'bout that" said Allie. "Tell me again why you married a white girl?"

"'Cause neither you or Chris would have me" Myra joked back. She heard some kind of sound from Ginny's studio.

"I'll talk with Edwina, but you need to do that yourself" said Allie. "You and Ginny -- make it clear we all gonna deal with stuff up front if it come time to do so."

"Absolutely" said Myra.

"And you know what? Let's me and you make a standing date for lunch, one day a week. Just us chickens" said Allie.

"Hell yeah" said Myra. "That's such a good idea, I'm going to suggest it for me and Chris, too."

"Long as you pay me the copyright fee" said Allie. "Okay, see you all on Friday."

After she hung up, Myra sat looking at the phone for a while. Ginny appeared in the doorway, saying "Allie okay?"

Myra repeated the conversation, then said "I'm not up for talking with Chris tonight. Or David. I'll do it tomorrow. Instead, I'm going to chat with Margie, who will not ask me to process anything about this."

"Can I get on the extension with you?"

"You bet." Myra began dialing Margie's cell phone. When Margie answered, Myra said "Can you spare a few minutes for conversation with your mothers?"

"Okay, let me just turn off the stereo" said Margie. "I'm studying for a sociology test."

"Have you had a chance to hear Zhang Er read her poetry recently?" asked Myra.

"No, but I saw her on campus and thought of you" said Margie.

"Hi, honey" said Ginny. "We've got some news."

Margie sounded wary. "What, exactly?"

"We're asking Zayde to come live with us. Permanently" said Ginny.

Margie let out her breath. "Wonderful! Is he going to do it?"

"I think he will" said Ginny. "We just have to work out all the kinks."

"You told Chris yet?" asked Margie, wary again.

Myra laughed. "No, I'm scared. Allie's on board as long as she gets to back everybody up a step if she feels the need."

"Nothing new there" said Margie. "Chris'll be the same, plus more uncomfortable jokes along the way."

"I'm hoping" said Myra.

"You're not giving him my room, are you?" asked Margie suddenly.

Ginny laughed and said "No way. When you're done with college, we plan for you to move back home and live with us forever. We made a deal when you were five, remember?"

Margie laughed, not completely at ease. "Yeah, well..."

"How's your car doing?" asked Myra.

"Fine. Listen -- I need to tell you guys something."

Myra and Ginny looked at each other, suddenly sober at the shift in Margie's tone.

"Okay" said Ginny.

"I'm dating somebody new. I kinda got interested in him while I was with Gary and, well, I think hoping he'd be interested back in me was part of the reason I broke up with Gary. We've just starting seeing each other, but we're clicking pretty big and ... I guess you'd call him a boyfriend. So-- the next time you're down here, I guess it's time for you to meet him" said Margie.

"Okay" said Ginny again. "What's his name?"


Myra couldn't help herself. "Your boyfriend's name is Rambo? Oh, god, tell me he's not in the military or something like that."

Margie's voice went cold. "No, Mom, not Rambo -- Rimbaud. Like the fucking poet."

After a long moment, Myra said "Oh. My bad."

"No kidding" said Margie.

Ginny stepped in. "Did he choose that name for himself, is he a poet?"

"No, his mother named him, she's French. His father is Maori. Rimbaud was raised in New Zealand" said Margie.

"Do I get to ask any more questions or is my credibility completely shot?" asked Myra.

Margie giggled. "You can try."

"Well, the usual -- how old is he, what's he studying, what's great about him, you know what we want to hear" said Myra.

They talked for another 20 minutes, and hung up with everybody relaxed.

Gillam was back downstairs, his head in the refrigerator.

"If you're after cake, it's all gone" called out Myra.

"I'll nuke an apple, then" said Gillam.

"Make me one, too" said Myra. "Brown sugar and butter, no cinnamon. And -- you wanna watch something with me?"

He stuck his head in. "You're not writing?"

"Not tonight. We could watch Firefly again" she suggested.

"Only if you promise not to sing the opening theme" he countered. She stood up and stretched, saying "All right. But I get to pause it after Chinese profanity and practice my pronunciation."

"Deal" he said. He looked at Ginny: "You want a baked apple?"

"I do" she said, surprising him. "Butter and half a teaspoon of honey, plus cinnamon and nutmeg. I'll join you two for the movie, if I may."

Myra beamed. "Sit next to me?"

"Cue it up, save me a spot, I need to clear my workspace and then I'll be there" said Ginny.

A week later, it was all settled. David gave a month's notice at his apartment and flew to Seattle for a weekend visit. Margie came up from Olympia, bringing Carly along with her. Friday night dinner had the whole family plus Ms. Schevitz, whom Gillam picked up from her new assisted living center before sundown. David, who arrived at noon, spent the afternoon conferring with Ginny and Myra about his accommodations. She offered to repaint it for him -- "Really, the whole house needs repainting, but we can start with your room, pick any color you want."

His face showed a hopeful expression. "Any color?"

She snorted. "Look around you, clearly there are no limits."

"Lavender, then. I've always wanted lavender walls."

Myra and Ginny both cracked up. "Good god, David, I would never have guessed that about you" said Myra.

"And I'd like a hooked rug carpet, like Rosa used to make" said David.

"We can go shopping this weekend" said Ginny, grinning. "I know an amazing furniture and accessories thrift store."

"Speaking of furniture, what things of yours are you planning to bring?" asked Myra.

"Ahhh -- not much. I gave my desk to Noah, and the things that are in the apartment I'd rather give to Cathy than move here. What I want most are my sketchbooks and paintings, my mementoes, photos. A few clothes." David looked momentarily sad. "I was never the accumulator; Helen did all the piling up of belongings."

"Can you fit everything in your car, then?" asked Ginny. "Drive out here, do you feel up to that?"

David thought for a moment. "I don't want the Lincoln any more, either. So I'd rather sell it and get a small car once I'm there. I'll ship everything, and fly out -- road trips don't appeal to me any more. My plan is to be here by your birthday, Virginia."

Ginny chewed her lip, thinking. "I have to go to Burlington the last weekend in January to plan my show at Liza's gallery. I'll be back before February 1st -- You want to plan on moving in that first week in February?" They looked at a calendar together, and decided yes. Ginny said she'd have the painters come in the next few days to repaint David's room. Myra got up from the table, then, to start dinner, feeling like her time with Ginny had just been squeezed almost dry.

After dinner, while everyone else was cleaning up and starting a poker game, she went to the upstairs deck with Allie and Chris. They turned on the heaters, but it was still wretchedly cold outside. Chris said "We need to keep this short. I'm already shivering, and I want to win money off your old man. Old man in law, I should say."

"Well, then, to get to the point -- I really fucking don't want to live with a man" said Myra. "In my heart of hearts, I don't."

Allie looked at her. "And what is Gillam?"

"Different" said Myra. "And yes, I know that's fucked of me. I'm not claiming to be right or just, here. I'm only saying what I feel. I do plan to get over my cheap self."

"In that case -- I fucking don't want you to live with a man, either" said Allie, and they roared.

"He's a nice guy" said Chris. "In some ways, he's easier to be around than Ginny. At least he don't hog you, or talk all the time."

Myra grinned and said "Please don't hold back on my account, Kash-Kash."

"But men don't age well, even the nice guys can get assholey. And I don't want to have to explain stuff to him."

"You won't, Chris. If he needs to be kept in the loop, that'll be our job, me and Ginny. Or, if I'm cranky, just Ginny."

"What about his friends in Denver?" asked Allie.

"He didn't have many. Helen kept him locked down" said Myra. She looked at Chris and said "Don't you dare infer Ginny does that with me."

Chris held up her hands as if to disavow any such intention.

"So, unfortunately, we're his community here. But I've told Ginny she's to push him to get out, meet other people, get involved with the Temple -- she can make it be something he does for Gillam, getting involved in the Jewish community here. David's specialty is silent martyrdom." Myra was surprising herself with the anger in her voice.

Allie picked up on it. "Sucks to share Ginny with Daddy, huh."

"Always has, but this will be in my face" admitted Myra.

"Well, when it gets to be too much, you just give me the high sign and I'll start talking about one of your ex girlfriends, we can reminisce, like -- that always gets her focused back on you" said Chris.

Myra busted out laughing. "Just about the worst idea you could come up with, Chris" she said. Chris linked her elbow around Myra's neck and hugged her sideways.

Allie said "I don't want him joining our Feminist Fund meetings, or being on the board."

Myra was shocked. "God, no."

Chris said "Is Ginny going to ask for that?"

Myra said "I can't totally speak for her, but -- no."

Allie said "Gillam, yes, when the time comes, and Margie of course. But no other nepotism."

Myra felt a second shock at the notion of Gillam being on the board. Allie saw it on her face.

But Chris interrupted, asking "Can we go back downstairs now?"

"Yeah. Thanks, you two. We'll keep clearing a way through this thicket -- you tell me anything at all that comes up for you, promise?"

Allie grinned. "Yes indeedy."

Ginny gave her a questioning look when Myra got back downstairs, but Myra avoided her gaze and instead sat down at the dining table, saying "Deal us in. We're about to teach you the Muffdiver Hold-Em."

The next day, Ginny got up early to eat with the children and David. Myra missed rolling over and finding her in bed, and woke up in a sour mood. The house was empty. There was a note from Ginny, along with fresh bagels and lox, saying she and David were at the paint store, Gillam and Carly were running around with friends, and Margie was with Sima. Myra made herself tea and called Chris.

"You wanna date with me today?" she asked.

"What about Daddy?" Chris asked.

"He and Ginny are redecorating" Myra said shortly.

"I need to run errands -- hardware store, shoe repair place, like that. Wanna tag along?" offered Chris.

"Yes. Then, maybe a matinee?"

"Sure. I'll pick you up in, what, 45 minutes?"

While finishing her solo breakfast, Myra called Sadie and got the run-down on used cars she or customers of hers had for sale that Sadie could vouch for mechanically. She made a list, along with Sadie's number, and left it for David on the dining table. She left a second note for Ginny, saying she was out with Chris for the day and would be back by dinner, but Ginny should defrost a couple of the lasagnas. She met Chris out front, anxious to be out of the echoing house.

They had a blast. Errands became one long series of jokes. They ate lunch at a diner, and when Chris called in to check with Sima, she said Margie and Sima were interested in a movie, too. So they all went out together, Myra relishing her only-mother time with her endlessly fascinating daughter. At one point, she had a fleeting thought that this must be what David felt being around Ginny, but she shoved that notion aside quickly.

After the movie, Margie went home but Myra followed Chris and Sima to their house, where she helped Chris replace the faucet in the bathroom and made bread with Sima. It reminded her of long ago, when she was single and their domesticity had been a sacred refuge. At 6:00, Ginny called and said "Are you done avoiding me?"

"I'm not avoiding you. I'm just enjoying other people" said Myra, not quite honestly.

"We're going to have a full house for brunch tomorrow" said Ginny, "And likely a late night tonight, with the kids here, but if you'll let me get you up at 7 tomorrow morning, I'll fuck with you a couple of hours before we have to go cook."

Myra laughed, suddenly looser in her bones. "Are you at the kitchen phone, or what?"

"I'm at your desk, and I'm not going to change how I talk with you, Myra, no matter who's here" replied Ginny.

"Okay, I'm heading home. Are you heating up the lasagna?"

"Yes, but stop at the Co-op and get some green beans. And Gillam says what's for dessert? Should I pull out a pie and bake it?"

"No, I'll get a carrot cake, you love those" said Myra.

After she hung up, she invited Sima and Chris for dinner. They declined, but agreed to come for brunch on Sunday. As she was leaving, Myra said to Chris "So, next Thursday for lunch, I'll meet you at your job with a picnic basket, okay?"

Chris grinned. "Fried chicken?"

"You got it. And if you want to redo that grout, any night this week I can come over and help" said Myra.

When she got home, Carly and Gillam were moving the furniture in David's future room so he could lay down a vibrant new rug. "I know the painters will just cover it up again, but for one day, I had to see what it will look like" he said happily. "Listen, Myra, thank you so much for the car leads. Ginny and I drove over there and I bought a little Toyota sedan -- I always wanted a Toyota, and it was never an option." They walked out front with Margie to look it over, while Ginny finished making dinner.

After they ate, David said "Let's talk house rules. Pretend like I'm a new gay woman moving into the collective."

Gillam burst out laughing. "Well, first, Zayde, it's never gay woman, it's lesbian or preferably dyke."

"David the dyke" said Carly, cackling.

Margie said "If you're about to discuss identity politics, I'm going upstairs."

David looked briefly confused. "No, I meant like -- housework, eating times, privacy, things like that."

Margie stayed put. Myra got a legal pad and Ginny put on water for tea.

"Let me begin by saying, I can't do all kinds of housework, not because I'm a guy and stupid about it -- although that's the case, for some things -- but because my stamina isn't what it once was. I like doing dishes, though."

"We have a dishwasher" Myra pointed out.

"Yes, but someone needs to load and unload it, more than once a day. I'm volunteering for that. I'm no cook, and I don't think shopping for groceries is my forte either -- "

Myra interrupted "I wouldn't want to pass that off to anyone else, anyhow."

"I can vacuum, though, at a leisurely pace. I can do any kind of yard work" David continued. He looked at Ginny: "I know the garden is your baby, but I can rake, do the boring kind of trimming, whatever you want."

Her face was soft and happy. "I'd love to have you out there with me. Maybe we could get chickens." Margie laughed as hard as David did.

"I'll keep the pool clean and the pH however you want it. I can't haul laundry up and down those stairs, I don't think. But I can pull it out of the dryer and fold it. I can dust, and will keep on top of that without being reminded" said David.

"Gillam does most of the laundry, that's one of his chores" said Ginny. Gillam added "But I'll be glad to let you fold."

"I pick up after myself" said David. "I'll have my own phone, and a laptop in my room. I also want my own TV and DVD player in there." He had clearly prepared a list in his head.

"All good, David" said Myra. "When you make friends here, you can ask them to family dinners or have us clear out to give you privacy, whatever works for you. If you have favorite dishes that I don't know about, write 'em down, I like adding to my menu."

"We'll need to get your prescriptions transferred, find you doctors and dentists you like" said Ginny.

"I'll be going to sacharit with Gillam" said David, "and joining the Temple, I can get recommendations from the other old farts there. Now, as to schedule -- "

Myra suddenly felt tense.

David looked at her and Ginny. "I know you two have a world alone together during the day. I know what that's like. After I retired, things changed...for the better...with me and Helen, after an initial adjustment to me being around all day. So, I -- I will respect your needs as a couple."

Inside her head, Myra begged Ginny not to reassure this away. To her relief, Ginny said only "Thank you, Daddy."'

"I have a few proposals to make, based on what I've seen you do, but please, tell me what you'd prefer" said David. After a pause to look at them both, he went on "I like getting up early, and could have breakfast with Gillam, see him to school. And eat with you, too, Ginny, if you're up. Then I could paint or draw until lunch. After lunch -- I've gotten into the habit of a nap. Then I could do my chores or errands until dinner. I go to bed by 9:30 most nights. I'd like to ask for one schoolnight a week to have a boys' night out with Gillam, and Carly if you're here, son. I plan to be out of the house most Saturdays, also, after going to services with Gillam -- maybe you and I can have some time together those days, too" he said, his face questioning Gillam. Gillam nodded back at him, smiling from ear to ear.

"Margie, whenever you're in town, I'd like big chunks of just me and you time, also" David said, his face growing even more tender. "And at least one weekend a month, if it would be okay with you, I'd like to drive down to your school and spend Sunday with you and whoever you want to introduce me to." Now Margie's face lit up as well.

"Absolutely any time, any time at all, that you want the house to yourselves or an evening out, just tell me" David said earnestly to Ginny, then Myra. "I mean it. This change in my life will be so, so much more than what I've had, don't be afraid of making me feel slighted, because the opposite is what is true..." His voice broke then. Ginny's eyes had tears in them, and she put both her hands over his.

"Okay, David" said Myra. "We'll proceed as the way opens."

"Tell 'em your favorite food is ribeyes" said Gillam sotto voce. "And devil's food cake."

Everyone laughed. Then Myra said "I have a question." Ginny looked at her nervously.

"Ginny paints naked. I mean, buck naked. We adjust the thermostat and even so she sweats and is oblivious to chill. I -- I like that part of how she works. What I'm wondering is..." Myra didn't know how to go on. It felt too weird to ask Ginny's father to get over her nudity.

But Ginny stepped in and said "Yeah, Daddy -- I'd like to not change that. You'll be there in the studio, is that going to be hard on you?"

David's face had gone a deep red. "At first, yes, it will be bizarre. I mean, I used to change your diapers, but that was a long time ago. But I'll adjust, Ginny. I will. I want you to paint however you paint, I couldn't bear being responsible for an alteration in your art."

Margie said "You get used to it. It's like, lamp, telephone, Mama's ass, refrigerator, Mama's boobs."

Everybody roared. Then David said "I have a question -- about alcohol. Do you allow it in the house at all?"

Myra began "Sure, you can keep beer in the fridge" but Ginny said "What kind of alcohol, and how much?" There was, for the first time, an edge to her voice.

David looked at her with an expression Myra couldn't read. "Beer. One or two maybe once a week. And wine for celebrations -- although I'm good with the nonalcoholic kind you get, it's the vintage, not the buzz, that matters to me."

"That's fine, then" said Ginny. The tension sat in the room for a minute. Then Gillam said "If we're done, you wanna go for a swim? It's brutal getting out of the pool wet, but great while you're in the water."

"I'll give it a try" smiled David. Margie said she would join them. As they stood up to change into suits, Ginny said "Myra and I are going to bed early. Do whatever you want, the noise won't disturb us. And brunch is officially at 10 tomorrow morning."

"Will you make muffins? Not bran" asked Gillam. Myra nodded, sliding her hand quietly into Ginny's, already feeling a warmth in her groin.

© 2008 Maggie Jochild

1 comment:

letsdance said...

Sweet family connections....