Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Blueberry muffin
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.

"You sure?"

"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 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?"

Myra nodded.

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'm not."

"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.

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