A NOTE BEFORE READING: I began sharing weekly excerpts from my novel, The Somebody Who, on June 26th. If you want to begin at the beginning, go here. If you want to read more sooner, head over to Amazon and purchase a copy (there’s a button on the left that will take you there).
Evelyn is cleaning up the spoils of thirty-something bagel consumption when the phone rings. She hopes it is Judy, saying she’ll be available for the concert the next day. She takes that hope with her to the telephone, and when she hears the disappointment in her own voice, she regrets having entertained any expectation.
“Oh, hi,” she says to Marilyn. “What’s up?”
“Barry and I just had the hugest fight. I’m really pissed off.”
“I mean, don’t you think it is just so fucking ironic? He’s an architect, and he can’t afford a house! How much bullshit is that?”
“I mean, Jesus, I know he’s helping to pay for his mom’s expenses, but couldn’t his sisters chip in a bit more? And do they have to have her living at the fucking Betty Ford equivalent of a retirement community?”
Evelyn pours herself another cup of coffee and scans the spice rack for arsenic. A part of her wants to hang up on her daughter.
“I’m just so pissed off,” Marilyn continues. “God knows I do my share—raising the kids, keeping the house. And, hell, if it weren’t for me, we’d have no social life whatsoever. Barry’s so damned glued to his drafting table.”
Evelyn looks at the photograph on the kitchen wall. Their family, twenty-five years ago. Marilyn in the middle, desperately engaging the camera’s lens. Typical.
Pause. Oops! Evelyn realizes she is supposed to say something supportive. She thinks for a second.
“Well, honey, um—the kids are certainly old enough that they don’t need full-time mothering. Maybe you could get some form of income. Something to help raise money to buy a house.”
“Oh, right!” Marilyn snorts, dismissively, “I bet there’s just tons of work for an English lit major with no experience!”
“You don’t have no experience—”
“Hello? Hello? Hello?”
It is Davy. He has picked up the extension upstairs.
“Is that Dad?” asks Marilyn.
“Davy: I am on the telephone,” Evelyn says firmly. “Talking to Marilyn.”
“Oh, wonderful!” says Marilyn, with bitter sarcasm. “That’s just what my ego needs right now.”
“Davy,” Evelyn pleads, “please hang up the phone.”
Evelyn then hears the authoritarian voice of Mrs. Krosky in the background.
Then, her authoritarian voice in the foreground. “I am so sorry, Mrs. Bennett.”
“Marilyn,” Evelyn injects, her exhaustion difficult to squelch, “I am sorry. I am sorry you are going through a difficult time.”
“Well,” Marilyn responds, not in touch with her own particular exhaustion, but feeling something she doesn’t like, “I suppose it’ll pass. I mean, Barry’s not a bad guy.”
“No. He isn’t.”
“I should probably hang up and figure out what to do about tonight. Maybe if I made him a nice dinner, we could get back to some sort of sweetness.”
“I think if you have that option, you should go for it.”
“Maybe so. Thanks, Mom. Uh, have a good weekend.”
“I’ll do my best. You, too.”
Evelyn has learned to sleep when she can, and when she takes a nap that Saturday afternoon, on the lounge chair in the family room adjoining the kitchen, she is not expecting to sleep for three hours. But, she does. And, when she wakes up, Mrs. Krosky is busily preparing dinner in the kitchen. And Davy is sitting at the center island, still enthralled with a particular article in the current New Yorker.
“Mrs. Krosky! That smells wonderful! What are you preparing?” Evelyn asks, still feeling a little dreamy from her respite.
“Beef. Dumplings. Beans. Good protein.”
“Sounds great,” Evelyn says, thinking to herself that she’s had far too much beef lately.
“Will you be eating with your husband?”
Why, for the witty repartee? Evelyn wants to ask. But instead, she just says, “I don’t know.”
Before she goes upstairs to take a shower, Evelyn stops by the study to check the answering machine. One message.
Careful not to repeat the experience of yesterday, she gingerly hits the New button.
“Hi Evelyn. It’s Judy. Checked with the family, and they’ve given me a one-day pass. So, I will indeed join you for the concert, and I’ll be more than happy to drive. We’re crazed tonight, so just call me in the morning with the ETD, and we’ll have a nice afternoon. Look forward to seeing you! Have a great night!”
“Saturday,” says the nasal-voiced man. “Four-forty-seven p.m.”
A great night, Evelyn thinks. I wonder what that would be like.
* * *
… to be continued on August 28th .
In the meantime, if you want to read a short piece about the back story, click here.