Friday, December 5, 2008


Glass float in a pond
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.

Spring 2016

The next morning, Myra got up to the alarm and joined Jane, Gillam, and the kids for a Pike market run. She held hands with David, which left Jane and Gillam free to chase Mimi. When she got home, Kip's truck was backed into their driveway, and Ginny and Kip were loading irregularly shaped black rocks into their wheelbarrow.

“What's up?” she asked. “More building?”

“When I went out the pond, right after you left bed, there were fingerlings in the shallows” said Ginny happily. “They're reproducing! So I called Kip, and we decided to create some safe habitat for the babies. This is volcanic stuff, light but full of crevices and crannies. You need help with the groceries?”

“That would be nice” said Myra. Ginny pulled in one collapsible cart, filled to almost overflowing, and Myra got the second.

“I'll put stuff away, you can go back to Kip” said Myra.

“Okay, but after you're done, come out. I don't want to do the float without you” said Ginny.

Myra kept glancing out the window as she stashed staples, sorted and repackaged items for the freezer, and mixed a large pastry dough which she wrapped and stored in the fridge. Ginny had taken their paint roller extension pole and fashioned a loop of string at the end which she would feed through a hole in one of the new rocks, lower it gently to a stable position on the pond bed, release the string and remove the pole. There were still small clouds of silt appearing on the surface, but it was definitely less traumatic to the wildlife than lobbing in the rocks would have been.

Kip was preparing a few new water plants in ceramic pots, and when Ginny was done, Kip used the same lasso technique (less skillfully, Myra thought) to slide the plants into a couple of bare spots left by winter vegetation die-off.

Ginny appeared at the back door and said “Do you have any fishing line, or should I go borrow some from Margie?”

“Uh...I do, there's a spare roll in the camping gear.” Myra accompanied Ginny outside, where the float box had been cut open and sat on a bench. Ginny peeled back the cloths and bubble wrap, carefully lifting the glass globe into the air. Myra gasped uncontrollably.

It was about the size of a cantaloupe, a pearlescent white shot through with veins of gold, claret, and abalone blue. Myra could see into it dimly, and she realized the gold was suspended in the glass itself. “Leaf” said Ginny succinctly. “The other colors are slender glass straws persuaded into that adhesion by processes it would take me an hour to explain.”

“Let's just call it magic” Myra said. There was a dimple on one side of the globe, and Ginny showed her where a tiny hole existed between an overlapping frond and the surface of the globe itself – enough to thread a filament through, she said.

She had already determined the depth of mid-pond using her string and pole tied to a large rock. She cut fishing line that length plus six inches of play, tied it around the same rock and to the globe, and then stopped, wondering how to proceed.

“Maybe float the globe in the shallows, and use something like a rake to scoot the rock toward the middle. The globe will follow” suggested Myra.

It worked, and the resultant appearance, even with the pond clouded with silt at the moment, was breathtaking.

“We didn't talk about whether this was a good idea” said Myra. “I'm not taking it back now, but what happens if it hails?”

“I run out here and reel in the float” said Ginny. “And the other consideration is thieves, but if they break in through our security, I don't know if they'll be looking at the pond first thing.”

“This whole installation is an absolute jewel of our existence” Myra said, kissing Ginny and saluting Kip. “I wish I was Wart and could go spend an afternoon in those watery mysteries.”

“Better be sure you're as big as the leviathan in there” laughed Ginny.

Anthea and Franklin had been extremely attentive observers during all the activity. Now Anthea wandered off toward the cat sand box behind the shed, and Franklin came to refresh his claim to Ginny's ankles.

“I bought cooked lobster at Pike, and I'm planning to use most of it for tomorrow's potluck, but I could make you two some lobster rolls for lunch, if you've worked up an appetite” said Myra. Kip waited for Ginny's invitation as well before accepting.

After lunch and Kip's departure, Myra decided she could set aside the rest of the day for writing. Before she had gotten into her stride, however, Ginny wandered in and lay down on her daybed.

“So...we also haven't talked about the whole Roger thing” Ginny said.

“Yeah. Do we need to? I mean, is there something left unsaid?”

Ginny motioned for Myra to come lay beside her. When Myra did, Ginny said “That comment you made about how I must be asking for people to hit on me. It's bothered me.”

“No, that's not what I said, Gin. I didn't say you were asking for it. I said it was interesting to me how it keeps happening. I know you're not seeking it out, girlfriend. You're constitutionally monogamous, it's easy for you.”

Ginny lay her head on Myra's shoulder and said “More, please.”

“More about what?”

“Whichever direction you want to go in” said Ginny.

“Well...I think you like have some things settled for all time. Like me in your life. And painting at the center. And the friends you do have, few but solid. I think it frees you up for all the other creativity and uncertainty you love, like growing things from seeds, or what pigments to grind for a particular painting, or the endless flexibility of life with children. It's a point of balance on the fulcrum, not a place where you want experimentation – your sense of partnership, I mean.”

“I agree with you, Myra. Are you saying you're different from that?”

“Not substantially. I'm a homebody and parent to the world, and I need that solid ground, too. Writing is like time travel for me, I can't return if I don't have a fixed compass point.”

Ginny leaned on her elbow to look at Myra's face and say “I want to be your true north. Always. I need you to never doubt me.”

“I don't, Ginny. Way back when, sometimes I'd get scared that you'd discover you didn't really love me, after all. But as long as you did love me, I've never doubted your constancy.”

“I loved you before you loved me, Myra.”

“Well, I know that now. We're safe as houses now, Ginny. What I meant by my questioning was how on earth it is that folks who must, on some level, be able to see where you are anchored still think they want to try to unhook your mooring. It's similar to how all those women who knew I was not able to commit still wanted to be the one who magically transformed me. Too many folks out there spend their lives chasing the patently unavailable, you know wat I mean? To quote Mimi.”

Ginny looked thoughtful. “Because it's about power, not real intimacy.”

“Our cultural inheritance from the ancient Greeks, I guess. Here, lie your keppe back down. The fact is, Ginny-O, I'm the one who's maintained more emotional attachments outside this relationship than you have. If you count the women I started us off with as family.”

“Allie, our second wife” giggled Ginny.

“Oh, fuck” said Myra. “Fuck,fuck, fuck. I promised to go over there and help her troubleshoot their breaker box, to see if she really does need to call in an electrician. I should be there by now.” She sat upright, almost tumbling Ginny to the floor.

Ginny began laughing hard. “Proving your point about my tenuous status, is that what you're trying to do? No, go on, I'll vacuum and mop while you're gone, the floors are grotty.”

After she heard the front door shut and Myra's car pull out of the driveway, Ginny lay back down and pulled the quilt over her. Franklin came to look at her questioningly, as she began crying, hard sobs wracking her chest. He kneaded her back briefly before giving up to go watch the geckos some more. When she was cried out, Ginny washed her face thoroughly and decided to start a soup for dinner before cleaning. Something Myra would love – broccoli cheese. With pancetta bruschetta for her, olive tapenade for Ginny. She headed outside to cut fresh broccoli.

The following evening, at singing potluck where Myra brought lobster pot pie in lemon cream sauce, chicken florentine pot pie, and beef/pork pot pie in wine gravy, she pulled Gillam aside afterward to ask “That underwater video camera you have, would it be safe to use in a dirty water environment?”

“What do you mean by dirty, toxic?” He looked alarmed.

“No, just not a swimming pool.”

“Yeah, I think so.”

“Will you let me borrow it a couple of days, then? And show me how it works.”

The next day, while Ginny was leading Dance Class with the grandkids, Myra pulled out the paint roller pole again and taped a loop of plastic rope to the end. The rope was tied through the handle of the Gillam's video camera. When the dancers had to take a break, catching their breaths and getting a drink, Myra said “Follow me out to the pond for a scientific exploration.”

“Today's not Science Day” objected Mimi.

“Every day is science day, if you have an inquiring mind” replied Myra. David was already out the back door, and Mimi followed them, if only to criticize some more.

Myra stood by the waterfall and asked Ginny “How deep it is here? This is the deepest part, yes?”

Ginny said “Four feet six inches, give or take soil build-up on the bottom.”

“Wat are doing?” asked David. Myra responded by turning on the camera and dropping the pole into the pond below the cataract. As David ran that direction, Ginny grabbed his shoulder and swung him onto her hip, saying “You can see better from up here.” Mimi hooked her hand to Myra's side pocket and peppered her with questions as Myra slowly circumnavigated the pond, raising and lowering the pole as the depth shifted. She made three complete circuits, one at the bottom level, one mid-deep, and one just under the surface. Then she pushed the pole out to the float and taped it from all sides underneath.

Lastly, she finagled the pole back into the grotto. At that point, there was a big splash and ripple which rose to the surface. Mimi screamed and David pushed back against Ginny's chest.

“The leviathan was disturbed” Ginny said ominously. Myra lifted the pole from the water and, after detaching the camera, panned all their faces before turning it off.

“Lemme see, lemme see” chanted Mimi.

“We have to dry off the camera very thoroughly before opening it to play back the tape” said Myra. She led her entourage back into the house, setting Mimi on the counter to watch. Once the tape was extracted, gratifyingly dry, they scrambled for the living room where Ginny turned off all the lights and sat on the couch, a grandchild on either side, as Myra loaded the tape.

It was an adrenaline-producing set of footage, from the beautiful green-blue jets pouring down under the waterfall to the prisms of reflected light from the float. They saw innumerable fish of various sizes and species. In the pitch black of the grotto, there was a shimmery flash which, on several playbacks, could not be nailed down except for an impression of size, but Ginny declared it to be the leviathan. They also discovered a small water snake living on a ledge above the entrance to the grotto, which turned Ginny's face grim. Myra promised to look it up and make sure it wasn't venomous.

They were still rewinding it and making up stories about the fish, whom Mimi was trying to name, when Carly and Eric arrived to pick up the kids for Jane and Gillam's date night. The uncles sat through it again, duly impressed. After they left, Myra copied the tape onto a minidisk, used computer software she'd hardly touched to convert this into an online file, and downloaded it to her blog, where it became an overnight sensation.

“You found a way to be Wart, after all” remarked Ginny.

“And safe from the lev” said Myra. “I think we have no fear about those kids deciding to try swimming in the pond any time soon, not after that.”

For Mimi's birthday, Margie gave her the dollhouse her grandfather David had bought for her when she was two, holding back some of the more delicate furniture for when Mimi was older. For David's birthday, two weeks later, Myra gave him a pink tutu almost identical to the one Gillam had worn obsessively as a toddler. David was enchanted, and Gillam, redfaced, could not stop laughing.

On June 21, the first day of spring, Jane gave birth after 13 hours of labor to a short, chubby girl with hazel eyes and light brown hair whom they named Leah Margaret. Ginny and Myra wept on each other's shoulder when they heard the name.

Mimi's reaction was “We already have a daughter, no more in dis house.”

© 2008 Maggie Jochild.

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