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 the book in its entirety, head over to Amazon and purchase a copy. (There’s a button on the left that will take you there).
For some reason, on Wednesday morning at 8:30, Evelyn bolts upright in bed. Not two seconds later, the phone rings.
She grabs the handset. “Hello!” she says with a sense of urgency that she doesn’t completely understand.
“Yes! Are you okay?”
“Yeah. Uh, yeah. I—uh—just woke up. And it’s eight-thirty. Are you okay?”
“Well, yes and no.”
“Okay,” Evelyn comments, changing her position as Davy’s still-sleeping body shifts in the bed beside her. “That’s like good news and bad news. What do you want to tell me first?”
“Well, the good news is I wasn’t here when it happened. The bad news is there was a fire in my apartment building last night.”
“Oh, God!” Evelyn responds, “That’s awful!”
“What? What? What?”
It is Davy, now taking his turn at bolting upright.
As Evelyn shushes him with her arm, “So did your apartment get damaged?”
“Well, yes and no.”
“The good news being?” Evelyn asks then, continuing to hold Davy’s curiosity at bay.
“Nothing of great value got damaged. The fire was in the apartment next door. So—there’s a common wall that’s kind of funky, and the place stinks.”
“Where are you now?”
“I’m looking at the funky wall, and I’m smelling some funky shit.”
“Well, I’m glad you’re okay,” Evelyn says, relieved by her daughter’s easy approach to what might put others over the edge. “And your place is salvageable?”
“Oh, sure. The super is here now. He’s great, and he’s got everything under control. It’s just gonna take a few days.”
“Well, tell me what you want us to do.” Evelyn says then, a bit amused by her choice of the plural pronoun.
“I’m wondering if I can come up there for a few nights,” Joy replies.
“Oh, my God! Are you kidding? You’d be welcome! Please!”
“You sure it’s okay?”
“Of course! I’m just surprised you don’t want to crash with one of your friends.”
“No, that wouldn’t be cool. None of my friends have a lot of space, and Chuck is way too stressed with school right now. I was lucky he could spend time with me last night.”
Evelyn makes a mental note to inquire about Chuck later. “And your job?” she asks her daughter next. “Are you going to take a few days off?”
“Oh. Well. I’m actually between jobs. The waitressing gig I got last month didn’t turn out.”
“I didn’t know you were waitressing again,” Evelyn says, amazed at how thoroughly awake she feels. “I thought you were at that small publishing house where—”
“Oh, right, the temp-to-perm thing. No, that didn’t work out either.”
Evelyn shakes her head at the daughter who cannot help but find work—and lots of it—constantly rolling over in an unending stream of possibilities. “And you’re okay with money?” she asks Joy. “You know, if you need any help—”
“I’m fine! Not to worry! Anyway, so if I could come up for a few days, that’d be great.”
“I agree. That would be great.”
“So, I don’t know. Figure I’ll head for Grand Central within the next hour or two. How ‘bout I call you from the train. I’ll probably get up there noonish or so. Can you pick me up?”
“Of course! Are you kidding? Joy, I’m sorry about what happened, but what a treat that you’re coming to see us!”
“It’ll be good. We’ll have fun. Anyway, I’ll call you in a few.”
And that was Joy, hitting the Off button on her cell phone before remembering to say “Goodbye”—a lack of formality that, on this morning, doesn’t bother Evelyn in the least.
“Davy!” she says, returning the handset to its cradle and then nudging her husband’s semi-sleeping shoulder, “Joy is coming to see us!”
Davy turns and looks at her. His expression is annoyed.
“Who’s Joy?” he asks.
Having arrived at the station a good fifteen minutes before Joy’s train was due, Evelyn is still strolling happily from one end of the platform to the other when the commuter line pulls in. She hugs herself and inhales the crisp fall air as the train screeches to its halt, and then, not knowing which door to watch, she simply looks anxiously maternal.
Joy is one of the first few passengers to emerge from a door near the front end of the train. And Evelyn, seeing her daughter, does something one would expect to witness in a young daughter seeing her mother. She claps her hands.
And Joy, seeing her mother, quickens her stride, her suitcase rolling behind her.
Evelyn admires the lightness of her daughter’s stance, the purity of her smile. In Joy, Evelyn sees no worries, and seeing that helps alleviate Evelyn’s worries.
“Mom! You look great!” Joy says, with genuine enthusiasm and love.
“I do?” is Evelyn’s spontaneous response.
“You do!” Joy says, linking her arm through Evelyn’s and looking her mother in the eye. “Of course you do!”
Evelyn looks down and smiles. Joy’s visit has already helped.
* * *
to be continued on November 6th .
In the meantime, if you want to read a short piece about the back story, click here.