Thursday, August 28, 2008


Ihara Saikaku
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.

7 June 2013

Myra slept to her usual time, and when she got up, Gillam had left hotcakes in the oven for her made with leftover corn from the night before. She sandwiched these with ricotta and sliced fruit, and carried her plate out to the carport. The smell of petroleum products strong enough when the opened the door. She pulled a folding chair from the camping gear in the cupboard and set it up several feet away, in clear air.

"Where are Jane and Gillam, I thought they'd be out here with you" Myra asked.

"They ran to a store which sells fancy-schmancy knobs and hardware, to pick out a clasp and new hinges. I put some pigment down on a card, of what I'm planning to use in the way of color, to help them in their decision." Ginny was as focused and happy as she was when in Painterland, but not quite as uncommunicative. That was interesting.

"Now, why was this chest chosen as suitable for repainting?" Myra asked.

Ginny answered, "It's pine but not especially good pine. See all these knotholes and defects? We're filling them in again and sanding it down. I think Jane wants to line it inside with cedar veneer."

"Listen, when we all sit down to figure out a wedding date, we need to decide then if we're going to the Gulf Coast this summer, who's going and when."

Ginny giggled. "I don't suppose they'll consider that as a honeymoon, even with the air-conditioned room." When Edouard, barely a hurricane, had hit east of Galveston in 2008, they hadn't worried about any possible damage to the beach house. However, the backside winds had pushed over one of the two live-oaks out front onto the kitchen roof. The contractor had insisted the entire roof had to be placed, because of damage to beams, so they opted to use this as an opportunity for adding a room to the west side, adjacent to the kitchen and opening from it. They lost the view from the kitchen window but added a long bedroom and second bath, built with modern insulation which meant a window air conditioner could keep that part of the house frosty. Myra and Ginny had continued to sleep in the back bedroom, however, with fans, giving up the new room to Allie and Edwina. The stump of the live-oak had been leveled off and created a base for an outdoor table, shaded by the surviving tree.

For lunch, Myra took the mushy onions and carrots which had cooked in the short ribs sauce for hours and mixed it into a stiff fritter dough. She had part of a leftover chicken from two nights before, and that meat she added to a chicken salad full of grape tomatoes she'd just picked from the garden. With new bread and lemonade, it felt like a summertime feast. They were not quite done when Margie, Frances, and Narnia arrived. Myra noticed Narnia had a great deal more white around her muzzle and eyes, and it took away some of the joy of the reunion for her. When Frances and Margie joined them at the table, Myra went into the kitchen and retrieved the short rib bones from the fridge where she had saved them for stock, giving them to Narnia on a plate.

Margie took the news of Gillam's marriage casually, it appeared. She said "Yeah, I figured that was right around the corner." The decision to have children right away also wasn't a surprise. The apartment nearby, however, made her face go smooth. She said "Really, now?" Myra waited for the rest of the sentence, probably something about an umbilical cord, but Margie stopped herself and Frances filled in with "That will save tons on gasoline."

Jane said "I want to formally ask you both to be bridesmaids, and I promise to consult with you, Margie, before imposing a ghastly dress on you." Margie smiled and said she'd be honored. Frances followed suit. Jane said "My sister Lucy is my matron of honor, and the other two are friends from school."

"What about you, Gillam?" Frances asked. "Who's your entourage?"

"Carly as best man, except I haven't asked him yet so don't spill the beans anybody. I'm hoping Nate and Noah can make it. Eric, a new friend of ours from Olympia; Lucy's brother Thad; and Davonn" said Gillam.

Ginny turned to Margie and said "It occurred to your Mom and me that we've never asked you if you want a wedding. We're clueless, you know what, but we want to provide you with whatever kind of ceremony you'd like, if you're interested."

Margie wasn't sure if she should laugh or not, Myra could tell. Myra said "We simply never thought of it. To be honest, it didn't occur to me that these two would get married, either."

Gillam said quietly to Jane "See, I told you so."

Margie decided to be pleased with the offer. Her eyes were dancing. She looked at Frances and said "We'll have to talk. But thank you."

Myra turned to Frances and said smoothly, "So what's the menu for dinner?"

Frances opened her mouth, then paused. "Nice try. It's an anniversary surprise. Margie warned me about you."

"Well, do I need to show you where anything is in the kitchen?" Myra continued.

Gillam laughed. "As if there's a secret compartment somewhere. No, Mom, we're on top of it. We are going to use the grill as well as the oven, but I suggest when the aunties get here, you all go sit on the deck and think about England or whatever, leave the cuisine to us."

After lunch, they played pool volleyball for a while. Myra and Ginny tired first and went in to change. Carly had left a message on the machine saying he was running late, he'd be there by 4:30 but tell Gillam to start cooking without him. Myra passed it on, and Gillam grinned at Jane, something unspoken passing between them.

Allie and Edwina arrived at 4:00 and were urged to go help keep Myra on the deck. They brought out a pitcher of limeade. Ten minutes later, Chris and Sima joined them.

"How'd Margie handle the news?" asked Allie.

"Remarkably well" said Ginny. "Except the part about living so close to us" added Myra. Ginny raised her eyebrows, and Myra said "She didn't say anything, but I don't think she liked it."

"I doubt she liked any of it" said Chris.

"She liked being asked to join the wedding party" insisted Ginny.

"I asked Gillam if we, the dyke set, got to dress up in morning coats and cummerbunds" said Allie. "He said he'd love it, but some of Jane's Mennonite kin would shit and fall back in it."

"That doesn't mean we're expected to wear dresses, does it?" asked Ginny in dismay. Edwina began laughing. "No, Jane said she'd pass on colors to us and leave it up to us" she said. "I'm thinking pantsuits for those whose twat would drop off in a dress."

Gillam had opened the door to come light the grill and he heard the last part of this sentence. He cracked up. As he arranged the rack to his liking, Myra said "What's the main course, long slow cooking or light grilling?"

He stuck his tongue out at her, and she said, "Oh, toss me a crumb -- at least tell me the big items, I'll see 'em through the glass, anyhow."

He relented. "Filet mignon and sea bass for out here. Osso buco and a shrimp angel hair dish a la Frances inside. The rest is a surprise."

When he returned to the kitchen, Allie said "I've never had osso buco -- is that pork?"

"No, veal" said Myra. "I've never had it either, because we have a house rule about not eating veal."

Chris grinned at her. "Are you going to bust 'em about it?"

"No, we're not" said Ginny. "We'll be grateful for being fed so lovingly, won't we?"

Myra nodded. "And it'll actually be interesting to see what it tastes like. Everything Frances makes is off-the-charts delicious."

Sima said "Weddings are expensive, you know. Gillam said they were going to rent a huppah for the ceremony at the Temple, have the reception here, but it sounds like the guest list is large."

"We haven't talked with him yet about the cost" said Ginny. "I understand the bride's parents are supposed to pay for most of it, but that sounds nuts to me, given the disparity in our incomes. We'll see if we can do more than our share."

"There's Carly now" said Chris, looking through the glass wall into the dining room.

Ginny craned her neck around. "Oh, good. Looks like there's another boy with him. I wonder how much he already knows -- "

Ginny broke off as Carly and his friend came out the sliding door. The second young man was Carly's height, both of them short men, but he was willowy where Carly was stocky. He was Japanese, with glossy black hair trimmed square on the back and shining dark eyes.

Carly gave them all hugs and then put his hand on the arm of his companion, saying "Everybody -- I want to introduce Eric Ihara. He's an occupational therapist, originally from Tacoma but we're settling in Seattle together -- we're renting an apartment in the same complex as Gillam and Jane, a one bedroom at the other end."

Eric shook their hands as Myra tried desperately to conceal her shock. Eric was clearly gay -- which made it almost certain that Carly was -- but no, why wouldn't they know if it he --

Chris said "Carly, my god, is this your boyfriend?"

Carly laughed delightedly. "I usually say lover, but yeah. We've been dating six months, officially a couple for two."

Ginny pulled him down beside her and hugged him again. "Holy fuck, Carly -- how long have you been, well, queer?"

"Either since birth, or since the lack of a strong male role model forced me into confusion and sin, whichever explanation you prefer" he said with glee.

Gillam came out to put food on the grill and heard Myra asking "Does Patty know?"

"Yes" Carly chortled, "I told her myself at Christmas."

"My god, we've been out of touch, then" said Ginny.

"What about Truitt?" asked Myra.

"Does Truitt know, or is Truitt gay?" twinkled Carly.

"Well, either -- although if he's gay, his wife and child will be bowled over, I guess."

"He knows, and he's not" said Carly. Gillam was already laughing, but this made him laugh a little more. Then Ginny said "Two out of the four kids, we must've done something right" which sent Gillam into howls. Ginny rushed in with "I don't mean that disparagingly, honey, oh god, please don't misunderstand me!" But Gillam was too entertained to be offended. When he could finally talk again, he handed Carly the tongs and said "You wanna be in charge of the grill, butch?"

Which set the two of them off again. Gillam went back in the house and in a minute, they could hear Margie's guffaws through the wall. Eric was grinning non-stop, so Myra waded in.

"How did you two meet?" she began.

"In classes here and there. I noticed him for a while before he noticed me back" said Eric.

"That's not true, I noticed you and when I decided I needed more friends, you were at the top of my list" argued Carly.

"That kind of noticing, yes" said Eric with a flip of his hand. His manner was fascinating to Myra -- he had a deep, sonorous voice but he talked fast and with shifts in expression that usually get tagged as feminine. He was dressed like Carly, jeans and polo shirt, but his polo was tucked in, the jeans had a good leather belt through the loops, and his small upturned forelock was clearly a product of mousse. Whenever he looked at Carly, his entire body radiated softness and joy, which scored him major points with Myra.

Allie drawled, "Carly, have you told this man we're going to ask questions until we're all parched? You might as well tell us what we're dying to know. Like, is there a love story here, what do you mean you've living together already, where did you hide your boyfriends on the way to here, et cetera et cetera."

Carly giggled but Eric charmed them all with a deep peal of laughter. "Yeah, he warned me. He called it the gauntlet and said we weren't coming home until we were both ready to run it. The short version is, yes, it's a love story, I fell in love with him first but he did a great job of catching up, we've been living together for a couple of months already, and I had boyfriends all through high school, a serious one the first two years of college. Actually, we lived not far from here; I went to Udub my first two years of college, transferred to Evergreen when we broke up. I knew I wanted to come back to Seattle, though."

Myra noticed Carly didn't jump in to tell his past history. Instead, he said "We're both job-hunting like crazy, and hope to land work in the same hospital or big clinic. I'd like to be a personal trainer at some point, and maybe a few years down the round, we can start a practice together with a few other specialties. For now, we'll be happy to earn wages and bennies at some facility where we can keep learning the ropes." He was busy arranged charcoal and not looking at them steadily. His voice sounded entirely happy, however.

"How'd Patty take the news?" asked Ginny.

Now Carly turned to look at her briefly. "Mostly okay. Not 100%. Part of why I waited to tell her until there was a solid relationship in the wings."

Myra was surprised, but Ginny's face was not. Ginny said "Not everybody thinks it's the best of all possible lives, even among our ranks."

Carly looked at her again. "I left it to Mom as to whether she passed it on to Pat." This was noncommittal, yet had a lot of information buried in it.

"What about your parents, Eric?" asked Sima.

"Oh, they've known for years" he said with a merry wince. "I disappointed 'em twice. Well, Papa, at least. See, my sofu -- grandfather -- on Papa's side was born in Japan, near Osaka. He emigrated here in 1923 as a young man with a pharmacy degree to earn money, make his stake and go back home well-off. A very intelligent and proud man. But then in 1924 all further emigration from Japan was stopped, and Spokane's Japanese community began to dwindle. He hadn't been able to buy a business -- there was a law then that we couldn't own property. So he kept hanging on, living in a boarding house, saving every penny. He wanted to move to Seattle or San Francisco with enough to buy into a business with a white person fronting it. He spent his 20s through his 40s alone. He wasn't about to marry a woman here."

Eric paused to take a long drink from the glass of tea in his hand. Narnia, who had been lying across Myra's legs on the chaise longue, shifted stiffly. Eric patted her head and said to Carly "I wonder if they're giving her something for that rheumatism, see, in her legs? Half an aspirin a day would really help her."

"We'll ask Margie" said Carly.

Eric looked back at The Gauntlet. "So...then came Pearl Harbor. There was no way to go back to Japan then. The forced relocations stopped just short of Spokane, and Japanese-Americans who wanted to escape internment flocked there. The community suddenly burgeoned. But there wasn't enough work, because no white person would go to Japanese businesses any more. He wound up doing manual labor, odd jobs, in his 40s. He slowly spent away his savings. He was furious, and got hauled in for questioning more than once because he mouthed off in public. At least, that's what Papa said. He didn't get married until he was almost 50, to my sobo who was almost young enough to be his daughter. Her parents had fled to Spokane from Puyallup, where they'd been farmers. She was not educated and not at all traditional in the ways he wanted from a wife. They weren't very happy together. They had one daughter, and then 11 years later, my father. When Papa was born, he sided with his mother, fought constantly with his old-fashioned father who refused to assimilate."

"We know all about that generational tension around assimilation" said Ginny. "Though our concentration camps weren't at the hands of this government."

Carly gave her a grateful look. The coals were hot enough to spread around in the grill, apparently, because he was busy with that.

"By the time I came along, Sofu was elderly and distanced from most of his family. He and I clicked right away, though. We spent hours together, and when I learned to talk, I was picking up Japanese as well as English. He saw in me a chance to pass on his heritage, and I wanted to know all about him. I learned to write kanji, I observed lots of customs that drove Papa crazy. When Sofu died, I was ten and I was crushed. Part of how I came out of the funk was by throwing myself into school activities, sports, Boy Scouts, stuff like that. Papa decided I wasn't hopeless, after all. What he didn't realize is that I was chasing boys and male-dominated environments because, well, I was approaching puberty and -- you know what I mean." His grin was beautiful. Edwina returned it, saying "Indeed, we do."

"So when I came out, Papa couldn't believe it for a long time. He wanted it to be Sofu's fault somehow, but there was no way Sofu would have been happy about my being a fag. He's okay with it now, especially since my sister has gotten married and produced two grandsons. Mom just wants me to promise I won't get AIDS, that's all she cares about. I haven't told either of them yet that I'm not moving back to Spokane. This weekend I'll make that call." Eric sighed tensely.

"Are you, by chance, descended from the line of Ihara Saikaku?" asked Myra. Eric goggled at her and said slowly "I don't know, but I've wondered. How on earth do you know about him?"

"He's a poet, revolutionized 17th century Japanese poetry" said Myra. To her friends she said "Among other things, he wrote verse about man-on-man love among the samurai, and got away with it."

Eric turned to give Carly a long look. Carly's expression seemed to say "I told you so." He asked Ginny how long the sea bass was going to take, and she eyed its thickness, giving him an answer. He didn't ask Myra about the steaks -- he knew how everybody liked theirs and the minutes needed to achieve perfection. He said "I'm going to need a clean platter to put these on, be back in a sec" and headed into the house.

Chris was asking Eric questions about growing up in Spokane. After a minute, Myra took Eric's glass from him and said "Let me get that refilled for you", following Carly. She met him at the edge of her study and said softly "Can I talk with you a minute?" They went into her study and sat down in her two rolling chairs, Myra ducking back from view through the glass wall.

She whispered so softly that even Gillam's talent for eavedropping couldn't pick it up, "I don't understand why you couldn't talk to me about your -- orientation."

"It wasn't that I couldn't" he said, choosing his words. "I knew I could. I didn't feel...pressure from you. Or Ginny. But I...I don't know if I can explain it...I had so much quicksand in my personal life. I was struggling to find...belonging. And I -- see, my generation is under a lot of pressure, actually, to not choose one way or another. It's seen as unsophisticated to have a definite preference. And I liked girls, you know, a lot. I decided to wait until I had a relationship that I could bring home, that rang all my bells and I knew was something I could defend completely. It was private, you know?"

"I think I get it" said Myra. "But does that mean Eric is your very first..."

"God, no. I started early and -- well, you won't want to hear details" Carly said, his serious face lightening. "I've got lots of experience, as they say. Eric isn't the first guy I've been in love with, either. But he's the first where we both feel the same way."

This didn't completely allay Myra's concern. She knew how lonely Carly had been this year. She wanted to like and trust Eric, but if he didn't stick around when Carly's newness to being part of a pair surfaces, she'd -- Then another thought occurred to her.

"When you say lots of experience, you don't mean Davonn, do you? Or any of those gay men you hung out with since you were too young for them to dare -- " Her fury had already boiled to the surface. Carly interrupted her with a laugh.

"Fuck no. Davonn had been messed with when he was a boy, he was fanatical about nobody ever even flirting with me or Gillam. I thought you knew that; Allie sure did."

Of course Allie had.

"In fact, when was around 14, I made a lame-ass pass at him one night, saying something like I sure would like to be initiated by an older guy who knew all the ins and outs, to to speak. He laughed in my face and told me a real man would never try to reclaim his own adolescence by imprinting his sexuality on someone younger than him. He said I needed to have the fun of being with someone my own age, that it was a glorious gift I shouldn't waste on a loser. He was right about that" said Carly with a reminiscent look on his face.

Myra suddenly remembered telling Carly and Gillam, only a few feet away from where they sat, to not allow sexual touch from anyone older than them when they were still toddlers. She felt dizzy: Sometimes the damage of one generation doesn't get passed on to the next.

"I need to go put the meat on" Carly whispered.

"Yes. But, wait -- where are you and Eric staying until your apartment is available? I mean, do you have to wait ten days, too, like Gillam and Jane?"

"We do. We don't know yet..." Carly looked embarrassed.

"Well, then, stay here. We'll have a full house, and that'll give us a chance to get to know Eric really well. I mean, if you want to be here around us" said Myra.

"I would. I'll ask him. Thank you so much" said Carly, getting up to hug her. He whispered in her ear "Thank you for taking him in."

"He's beautiful" replied Myra. She watched Carly rejoin those on the desk before going to refill Eric's glass.

When the steaks and bass were done, they all followed Carly inside. Both leaves had been put into the table, the end extending into the hallway area, and 12 chairs were gathered from around the house. Candlelight reflected from crystal water glasses, as Frances and Jane loaded the breakfast bar with platters of food. Myra tried to lift lids to see what they had prepared, but Ginny squeezed in between her and the counter, putting her arms around her and saying "Wait for the surprise, Myra" as she gave her a kiss. Myra pushed Ginny snugly against the counter and said "Remember how you hopped up, right here, the first time I came home with you, and then you kissed me so hard I nearly fainted?"

"I do" said Ginny tenderly. "You asked me not to stop."

"You never have" murmured Myra.

"And remember the day they installed these countertops?" grinned Ginny.

"We came over that night and -- broke 'em in" said Myra.

"Oh for god's sake" said Margie.

"It's been washed since then" said Ginny. Frances and Carly were laughing wildly.

"Go sit down, pick where you want to be, you anniversary girls" said Allie. They sat next to each other on the long side of the table next to the sideboard. The other ten members of their family joined them, and Myra thought she might cry as she looked around the table at people she loved so dearly. Ginny had a tight grip on her hand. In lieu of any kind of grace, she began telling the story of that June 6th, 24 years ago, when she ran into Ginny at yet another potluck/fundraiser, only this time she was ready. Ginny jumped in and shared the telling with her, and parts of the tale were new to everyone.

"Dennis, that guy who was with Judy?" said Allie, at one point in the story.

"Yeah." Then Myra said to Ginny "Judy Lamoreaux -- she was after Fern and before Annie".

"Creole" said Chris. "Great singing voice."

When Myra got to the kiss on the sidewalk, Ginny said "I can't believe I had the nerve to just plant one on you like that. I mean, I'd been so careful around you for so long -- "

"But we'd crossed a line, Gin, on that very spot, that's the whole point. You knew I wanted you, because I'd just told you."

"Still" said Ginny, gazing into Myra's eyes.

"Yeah, still -- the kiss of my life" said Myra softly.

"Okay, let's eat now" said Allie, "You can tell more stories while we're actually chewing."

As Myra kept saying over the course of the next hour, it was the best meal she ever had. At one point, Frances passed around a dish of pearl onions and fresh peas simmered in an alfresco sauce and poured over radiatore. Myra was amazed to see Margie take a big helping.

"You eat onions now?" she demanded.

Margie dimpled at her. "I eat whatever Frances cooks" she replied.

Ginny kissed Myra's hand and said "Being open to change has gotten us to this point."

For dessert, Frances had created tiramisu and Jane had baked her grandmother's recipe for triple-layer devil's food cake. Myra was already stuffed, but she went bonkers over the cake.

"My father said during the Depression, Oma could sell these cakes and make a little extra for things like shoes and school supplies" said Jane.

"Did he come from a big family, too, your daddy?" asked Ginny.

"Seven that lived. Only three were able to work their way through college. Which Dad mentioned often, part of the reason why he stayed at Fresno State was so we kids could get a break on tuition -- he wanted all of us to attend college."

"How did you wind up at Evergreen, then?" asked Myra. "I mean, it's pricey."

Gillam said "She got a four year academic scholarship there, that's how."

Chris whistled. "Them's serious grades" she said.

Gillam said to Myra "I'm like you, Mama, I only fall for the smartest girls around."

Ginny squeezed Myra's hand as everyone laughed. Margie said to Frances with complaint in her tone "You see, that's what I mean -- With one sentence, he makes both of them turn to goo." Then she said to Ginny "I used to think it was because he was the boy."

"I remember that" said Ginny. "What make you realize that wasn't true?"

Margie glanced at Chris. "Oh, various conversations. Eventually I figured out it was just that he was a suck-up and I was the rebel you raised me to be, and I was actually better off that way."

Jane looked a little shocked, but Gillam roared. He said "I guess now is when I should tell you that the stone on the ring I gave Jane comes from Helen's engagement ring. I still have the gold and some smaller diamonds from the original, and if you're interested in trading that for great-grandpa's Louis's ring, I'd appreciate it. Because I'm the favored son, you know."

Margie put her tongue out at home with a grin and replied "No way. I've got it on this chain around my neck right here. You'll have to steal it from me -- or have Zayde take it when he roams around at night."

"What do you mean, roams around?" said Myra.

Margie froze. Frances, watching her, said "You didn't tell them yet? Hell's bells, Margie."

Margie said "I didn't want to do it over the phone, and it's been kinda tight around here the last few months on visits." She squared her shoulders and said to Ginny and Myra across the table, "Zayde's old bedroom, where we stay? He comes there sometimes. I've seen him twice, Frances once. Just fleeting. He doesn't look at us, and it's not scary a bit."

"Daddy?" Ginny's voice was thick with shock. "You're saying Daddy -- a ghost?" Myra could feel the goosebumps on Ginny's arm next to her.

Margie's voice was a mix of worry and defensiveness. "I think he's looking for something, in the armoire, that's what he does. That's why the closet door is always ajar."

Myra didn't think she could move. She could sense the extreme distress from Ginny beside her. But Ginny rose effortlessly to her feet, and Myra found herself right behind her. They rounded the corner and walked down the hall to the rear of the house. Myra could hear the others starting to follow.

When Ginny flicked on the light, she made a small sound. The door of the built-in armoire was slightly open, as was the drawer directly underneath it. She stood there a moment, staring in not-quite-horror. Myra linked her arm through Ginny's, and finally they looked at each other. Then they stepped to the closet. Ginny swung it open. A few of their old coats and sweaters hung there, and otherwise it was empty. Ginny shut the door and they heard it click. She tugged very lightly at the handle, and the latch held. Myra felt her shiver.

Then Ginny pulled her arm free from Myra's so she could use both hands to open the drawer under the closet. In the middle of the drawer was Rose's wooden box. Myra and Ginny both gasped together. Ginny said down heavily on the bed behind her. Myra lifted the box from the drawer and sat down beside her.

Everyone else was in the room now or the doorway, watching them.

"What is that?" asked Margie, pointing to the box.

Ginny opened it. Rose's photos were still wrapped in a velvet cloth, along with the dried rose in wax paper and David's baby shoes. Underneath it all was Ze'ev's account book in faded black leather. Myra said "These are Rose's keepsakes."

Now Margie and Gillam both reacted with a sharp intake of breath. Myra looked at Ginny and said "What do you think he's after?"

Ginny's eyes were smudgy and deep, deep blue. "Ze'ev. He's trying to connect with Ze'ev." She slid the journal out from underneath and set the box beside her on the bed. Leaning heavily against Myra, she opened the book and flipped to the back. Then she looked up at her children and said "Ze'ev Baetz -- he's where our art comes from. Daddy's daddy." She held up the book and showed them the picture of the downtown square in the 1920s, the old cars and wide sidewalks that were modern when he drew them in pencil.

Margie said "It's how you make your lines -- oh, god, Mama, it's like you drew that."

"Yes" said Ginny. She put the book back in her lap and continued turning the pages. Myra said to everyone else "He had no chance to live his art. He had to work all the time. This is all he had, a few secret sketches in the back of his sales route ledger." When she looked at Allie, Allie's eyes were full of tears. She knew, too.

After a minute of silence, Allie said "If we don't make peace with our fathers in this lifetime, I guess we go on trying in the next." She and Myra stared at each other. Ginny looked up at that.

After another minute, Ginny closed the book and said "These need to come out of here. They need to be framed, and hung where we can see them. He deserves a showing, and to be part of this family." She stood up, and returned the box to the drawer, closely it tightly. She handed the journal to Margie and said "You and Gillam look through that. Leave it on my worktable when you're done." She reached out for Myra's hand, and led a way back into the dining room, where she sat in her chair and began eating her tiramisu.

© 2008 Maggie Jochild.

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