Saturday, May 17, 2008


(Aerial view of Anacortes and Fidalgo Island, Washington)

Here's the next segment of my novel-in-progress, Ginny Bates. Begins after my post of May 14th.

If you are already a familiar reader, begin below. If you need background, check the links in the sidebar on the right, fifth item down, to get caught up.

Early May 2012

When it came time for Gillam to return to Olympia, riding with Carly, he looked pale and was tight around the eyes. He stood in a long hug with Myra, and her chest ached at what he faced. When they tried to pull away, they discovered that Beebo, in the carrier Gillam was holding, had reached through the grill and snagged Myra's pants with a claw. She bent down to disengage him gently and whispered "You look after him. Don't worry, we'll all be together this summer."

Margie and Frances also left on Sunday, hoping to beat holiday traffic. Margie said quietly to Ginny that they could use a day alone. Ginny wanted to ask more, but they were interrupted and the opportunity never returned.

Four days later, Myra had lunch out with Chris. Once they had ordered, Chris leaned toward and said "What was that crack about you looking good now, from Ginny?"

"So you thought it was off, too?" said Myra, having mixed feelings at this validation.

"I didn't know. It was close to the edge, for sure" said Chris. Myra filled her in, and Chris continued to look serious. She asked for more information about Gillam.

"He called last night. He ran into Courtney on campus and she started crying. He's having doubts about his decision, which I'd only expect from him. His heart is breaking, but he's sticking to the flower remedy, to eating veggies and taking care of his body. We're going down there not this weekend but the next, if you want to come along" said Myra.

"I'll have to look at my schedule." Their food arrived, and Chris picked up her fork, then set it back down.

"I have something I want to tell you, My. But it was told to me in confidence, and I need it to not go further. In particular, not to Ginny or Margie. If you can't keep make that promise, then I have to not tell you."

"Ah, shit, Chris. Is it going to be hard on me to not tell? Will Ginny feel betrayed if she ever finds out?"

"Yes." Chris's black eyes were direct. "But she'll never find out from me."

Myra's conflict was intense. "Do you need to tell me for your sake, or because of something to do with one of them?"

"Both." Chris picked up her fork again and began eating.

Myra knew how Chris avoided gossip or drama. She'd have to trust her now. She said "Okay. I promise."

Chris swallowed and said "Margie called Sima Tuesday night, which she often does, Sima's generally home then. During their conversation, she said that Frances is sleeping with a new cook at the restaurant, a woman a year younger than Margie."

Myra rocked back in her seat. "Oh my fucking god. When -- how long? Did Margie just find out?"

"No, it's been going on a couple of months. Not often, just occasionally. Margie said she and Frances had talked it over beforehand, Frances isn't sneaking around. They have an open relationship, apparently. Did you know that?"

"Fucking hell, no I did not" said Myra. She wanted to suggest that she and Chris hop in the car and drive to Portland to kick Frances' ass. Chris would do it, she was pretty sure. "Open relationship? Is that the same as what we meant by non-monogamous? Which never fucking worked, by the way, it just caused messes and eventual break-ups."

"I don't know, I wasn't the one she confided in" said Chris. "Sima did ask if they're practicing safe sex. Margie kinda hates this woman -- name of Imani -- and is feeling bad about not being more able to deal with it. She swears Frances is being 'great', quote unquote, but I don't buy it for an instant." Chris was as mad as Myra, she could tell.

"Oh, god, Chris. This is terrible news. She's wrapped her whole future up in Frances -- "

"Yeah, and according to what she told Sima, none of that has changed. She says Frances has no intention of altering their primary commitment, to use her phrase. But I'm worried about her. Plus, both of us now have to act like we don't know. Because if it gets out that I told you, Sima will -- well, she's not got a lot of slack about my connection with you." Chris refused to look apologetic, but some leaked out in her tone.

Myra wanted to ask if Chris gave Sima reason to not have slack. That was landmine territory, however. She stuck to the original topic. "I'm glad you shared your worry. I can't think of anything we can do, except -- care about her. Be available. Fuck, Chris. They don't have enough time together as it is, and Frances has some piece of ass on the side? Why isn't my daughter enough for her?"

Chris shifted her gaze away, and Myra said "What? What else is there?"

"Well...Sima said it was Margie -- Margie was the first to sleep with someone else. It was part of her ground rules for their relationship. So...they don't see it as about being enough for each other. Supposedly."

Myra was rocked a second time. She didn't want to know who it was. She suddenly felt like she didn't know Margie at all.

"This would eat Ginny up alive" she said almost to herself. She saw Chris look at her sharply, and she added "All the more reason to never tell her."

Chris kept Myra's eyes locked on her as she said "We had a big fight afterward. Me and Sima."

"Why? About Margie?"

"No. About -- you, and Ginny. Myra, this is still part of the 'don't ever tell anyone', you got that?" Chris waited until Myra nodded. Myra was beginning to feel like she was in a rapidly flooding room.

"Sima's been upset for a while about how -- Edwina's become more the person Ginny talks to. You and Allie, Ginny and Edwina, it's a convenient foursome. I personally don't feel shut out because you and Allie both spend time alone with me. Plus, our different. But Ginny's not having dates with Sima, not as much as she used to."

Myra turned this over in her mind. She said slowly, "I can see that. You're right."

After a minute of silence, she said "Are you sure you don't feel dissed by the change? 'Cause, Chris -- "

Chris held up her hand, with a glittery grin. "Don't you dare try to reassure me, Myra. And that's what the fight was about, the fact that I am so sure of what I mean to you." Again, there were pieces not being said out loud.

Myra kept pushing her brain to think, keep moving. "The thing is -- I'm a moron for not noticing how things might be affecting Sima. And if I had, I'd go straight to Ginny and push her to clean it up. Because Sima is precious to her. She's precious to me, and I'm heartsick at what she must be feeling. God knows I'm transparent and bumbling, but I want to figure out a way to bring Ginny around. Without blowing your confidence in me. This is fixable, there's no need for Sima to suffer."

Chris's face was tense. She didn't say no, however. "It has to never get linked to me. It has to be an approach Ginny believes came only through you."

"Even better, if I can get her to notice it on her own, think it was her revelation, not mine" said Myra thoughtfully.

Chris laughed briefly. "You play each other a lot more than you admit."

Myra decided to ignore that. "Back to the Margie issue -- Are you sure she didn't secretly hope Sima would spill the beans to us all? I mean, did she really think Sima would keep it quiet?"

"She did. She specifically instructed Sima to never tell you two or Allie" said Chris.

"Allie" breathed Myra. She hadn't considered Allie's reaction yet. She gave a low whistle, and Chris said "Yeah."

There was another long silence, and Myra said "Okay. You got any more bombshells to drop?"

Chris laughed. "Not at the moment. You wanna go catch a matinee? That new Alfre Woodard movie looks worthwhile."

"You're on. Let's stop at a store and buy a pound bag of M&Ms, sneak it into the theater."

When Myra called home after the movie, Ginny said Edwina was coming over for the evening. Allie was at a meeting. Myra said "In that case, I'll either be at Chris and Sima's or go to a diner and write." She closed her phone and Chris said "You're welcome to join us for dinner. Likely an omelet and salad."

"I'll cook, if you want" offered Myra. Sima was home when they got there. Myra went to the kitchen and began putting together a salad while talking with Sima. She felt no difficulty in dissembling around Sima: Anything to keep Chris out of hot water. Myra listened to the two of them catch each other up on their day, the shorthand in their communication, the lack of obvious conflict. Not for the first time, she wondered what their sex life was like, and immediately felt afraid her thoughts would show on her face.

After dinner, she helped Sima install upgrades on their computer, cleaned out their temporary files cache which was obscenely clogged, and ran a defrag. The difference in performance was immediate. Sima sat down at the keyboard in delight to upload files from work.

Chris had consulted the calendar on their wall and said "We can't go to Oly next weekend, my niece is visiting on Saturday."

"Garnet? Say hi for me. What shall we do now?"

Chris looked at her watch. "I need to make calls. Tribal council stuff. I knew it was going to take up the evening, that's why I let myself blow off the afternoon."

"Okey-doke. I'll see you both on shabbos." She kissed Chris's cheek -- Chris always held it out but seldom kissed Myra back -- and left for her favorite diner. They knew to keep the Cokes coming her direction. She also ordered chili fries and a piece of chocolate pie. She alternated bites as she answered e-mail on her laptop, writing letters to both her kids about the movie she'd just seen.

She got home around 10:00. The front of the house was dark. Ginny was in her studio, a roll of canvas on her worktable. This meant the weekend would be in Painterland. Oh, well, they needed the money. Ginny said hi, a little distractedly, and sniffed her breath, saying "Can't make that one out."

"Choco and chili" said Myra. Ginny raised her eyebrows.

Myra said "Sima and Chris are busy the weekend we're going to Olympia. Shall we make it a twofer, go on to Portland for a couple of days?"

"Ask Margie. We'll be going for her graduation soon anyhow."

Myra didn't want to surrender Ginny to a painting just yet. She said "How was Edwina?"

"Plotting departmental power plays" said Ginny. She looked up at Myra suddenly and said "Oh. I need to tell you something."

Myra felt her stomach flutter, and remembered in that instant her secret from Ginny. Dammit, this was going to be really hard.

Ginny sat down on her daybed, motioning Myra beside her. "I found out something tonight I didn't know, and I don't think you know about it, either. Edwina let it slip, and...well, I have to share it with you."

Myra's mind was racing: Had Margie confided in Edwina, too?

Ginny slid her arm through Myra's and said "A long time ago, when Chris was dating but hadn't met Sima yet...She and Allie -- well, they slept together sometimes."

Myra was about to say "Of course they did, Chris crashed at her place -- " when she realized Ginny didn't mean just sleeping in the same bed.

"You mean, like lovers?" She didn't believe it.

"They didn't call it that, Edwina said. But yes, having sex. On a casual basis, she said."

Allie and Chris? "It can't be, neither of them ever told me and besides, I'd have been able to tell."

"I think they kept it from you, sweetheart. Because it would hurt your feelings." Ginny's voice was very kind.

Myra's vision was going red. "You mean they lied to me. They lied their fucking asses off for the past 30 years. Allie fucking told Edwina, but not me. Because I'm the reject, the one NOBODY fucking wanted."

She had to stand up. She walked five steps, then turned around and came back. Ginny said "I wanted you, Myra."

"Yeah, after everyone else found me not fucking good enough. Does Sima know?"

"I don't know."

"And she's worried about me with Chris, ain't that the fucking joke." Myra didn't know what to do with her hands.

"What do you mean, you and Chris?" said Ginny.

"Oh, can it, Ginny, this is not about you, it's about how I'm not worthy of even honesty from my best friends" said Myra, almost shouting.

"Well, I guess this kind of reaction partly explains why -- " Ginny stopped herself, but not in time.

"So it's my fault they have to lie to me? Is that it? And clearly it's my fault I'm not good enough for fucking, even 'casually', that goes without saying!" Myra was shouting now.

"Don't kill the messenger, Myra" said Ginny, starting to look mad.

"Yeah, thanks for passing it on late at night when I can't even fucking call them! Kudos on your messenger skills. And don't worry, you don't have to fucking deal with this, you can retreat to your own special universe now while I sit out here waiting on you, because who the fuck else would ever have me, right?" Myra stomped to their bedroom and slammed the door. She went into the bathroom and washed her face. When Ginny didn't follow, Myra began filling her toiletries bag. She carried it into the bedroom, packed a duffel with clothes, and walked it through the bathroom to the front door.

Still no sign of Ginny. She'd apparently gone back to stretching canvas. Myra's laptop was in the Honda. She picked up her wallet, keys, and cell from the breakfast bar, collected the duffel and walked out to the car, shutting the door quietly behind her. Once she cleared the block, she let out a breath.

She went to the nearest ATM and pulled out $2000, all it would let her have at the moment. She wanted to avoid using credit cards. She filled the car with gas, bought a cooler and filled it with Cokes, and sat in the bright light of the convenience store lot to plan a route.

Not the kids. Not anywhere that direction, either. East or north, then. The water -- she wanted the solace of water. She had to rebuild her life. Her eyes landed on Anacortes -- she'd always wanted to spend some time there. She memorized the highways and was about to put her car into gear when the phone rang.

It was Ginny on the caller ID. She didn't answer. When it stopped ringing, she composed a text message for Ginny, Gillam and Margie: I'm okay, need to be alone. I'll let you know when I can talk. She sent it and turned her phone off.

Anacortes was a tourism town and it was nearly the weekend, a lot of places were full. What she really wanted was a B&B, but it was too late at night -- well, early in the morning by the time she got there -- to find a room in anything other than a regular motel. She drove along the waterfront until she found a vacancy sign at a place with views of the Sound. The clerk who finally showed up at her ringing was extremely cranky at being awakened, but Myra flashed cash, offered to pay a week in advance, and signed in as Ellen Ripley.

In the room, she unpacked, put her cell in the drawer without looking at its dial, opened her fourth Coke and turned on the TV. She fell asleep watching the History Channel.

Five hours later, the maid woke her up. Myra told her she'd just checked in and shut the door, putting on the security latch this time. She plugged in her computer, accessed her e-mail, and read the subject headers: Messages from Ginny, Gillam, Margie, Chris, and two from Allie. She didn't open any of them, and she turned off the chime that rang when a message came in.

Carrying her laptop, she walked to a nearby cafe and ordered breakfast. She consulted the brochure she'd picked up in the motel lobby and made a list of things to do here: Heron rookery, watch boat building, ride ferries, Saturday Market, tide pools, whale watching, bookstores. No galleries or looking at the local murals. After eating, she decided to check out bookstores first instead of writing. She retrieved her car and drove around town, making note of places to eat and stopping at three different bookstores, buying two dozen volumes by the time she was done. She took these back to her motel room. An outdoor picnic area by the water had a free table, so she sat there and began to write.

It was late afternoon before she stopped, and that was only because it was starting to sprinkle. She drove to a cafe and had a steak with baked potato and creamed corn. No salad. She went to a local grocery and bought snacks plus more ice and Cokes for her cooler. Next door was a marine hardware store with a sign in the window which declared it was the oldest on the West Coast. She went in and wandered its aisles, buying an assortment of odd items whose function she wasn't certain about but whose shape or color she found attractive. Back in her motel room, she arranged these on her chest of drawers with a satisfactory feeling of making a nest.

It was still raining at sunset, so she felt justified in ignoring the start of shabbos. Every time she thought about Ginny, Allie or Chris she felt sick to her stomach, but immediately anger filled all the layers on top of it and she turned her mind elsewhere. She did occasionally feel guilty about how worried Gillam might be. But if she wrote him, he'd tell the fuckers where she was.

She fell asleep for a few hours, rousing herself at 10:00 to go back out for a meal before all the sit-down places closed. She went back home, as she now thought of it, and wrote four more hours. She went to sleep by watching TV again.

The next morning, she wandered through the Market, buying fruit, bread, cheese, and veggies that she could eat without cooking. She stashed them in her car, with the cooler, and drove to the ferry landing. The next departure was for Lopez. She drove on deck and sat on a bench to study the ferry schedule. She could make a day of it, if she wanted, and she decided to go until she got tired of wandering.

She ate from her car stash, fed gulls, saw whales, walked beaches on various islands, and often sat in her car to write. By the time she got back, it was dark. She returned to her restaurant of the night before, had another steak, and came back home to find the maid had moved all her marine hardware to a drawer. Myra redecorated, adding the shells and beach detritus she'd picked up that day.

Worry about Gillam was nagging at her. She opened her laptop and checked e-mail. The list of messages was overwhelming, but one, from HunEBoy, was headed PLEEZE Mama. She sighed and clicked on it.

It was very long. She stopped reading after the first paragraph. She hit reply and wrote "I'm okay. I'm writing and eating and taking some room. Not from you, but it works out that way, sorry. I'm only reading this one message, my phone is turned off, that's it for now. I love you."

She felt better after she sent it. She looked at the time -- 8:30. He'd be forwarding it on to all of them, or on the phone, or both. She felt a sick pleasure in how bad Chris and Allie must be feeling by now. They had thirty years of lying to make up for. Her mind began trying to remember nights when they'd all been hanging out, way back when, and unknown to her, after saying goodbye they'd wound up climbing into bed together. She found herself trying to imagine them making love, and she shut the image down, it was too confusing. She didn't actually feel desire for either of them any more -- it had never been much for Chris, and her once-longing for Allie was just plain embarrassing now. Icky, in fact. But back then, it would have killed her to know they were finding pleasure with each other after saying no to her.

Which was no justification for lying to her. If they'd really cared about her -- especially Allie, she and Allie had waded through so much together -- they'd have found a way to talk with her.

What was she going to do without being able to trust them any more?

And Ginny, no doubt Ginny was completely bonkers with jealousy that this could be affecting Myra so much. Well, fuck her. Fuck 'em all. Except Gillam: Gillam was not a cheater or a liar.

She couldn't keep dwelling on this. She opened another Coke, pulled up the writing she'd done the past two days and began rereading. She again wrote until the wee hours of the morning, then watched British comedies until she fell asleep.

She was awakened by banging at her door. The security lock was on but she must've forgotten to put out the do not disturb sign. She walked groggily to the door and opened it with the chain on to tell the maid to come back later.

It was Allie. Expressionless, her hands shoved in her pockets. "Your cell has GPS tracking, but it took me a while to figure out what name you'd register under" she said flatly. "Open the door."

© 2008 Maggie Jochild.


Jesse Wendel said...

Ah, the DRAMA.

The girls are fucking around today.

The girls were fucking around in the past.

And Allie's a GPS hacker. Hee.

This is GREAT.

Jesse Wendel said...

Oh... and Gillam's still heartbroken.

EVERYONE is melting down.

Even Beebo snagged a claw.

Go Maggie go!!!

Liza Cowan said...

oooh. a cliffhanger.

A week alone by the water sounds pretty good, though.

kat said... goings on have been really intense lately. I'm waiting with bated breath for what might come next.

Boyfriend's research actually relates to cell phone gps tracking. Right now, cell phones have the capability, but no one wants to allow the technology to be used, since it's a huge gaping privacy issue. I guess the future does get more Big Brother?