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).
“So, which storage facility are we checking first?” Joy asks her mother, as they climb the stairs to the second floor to make a little headway before dinner.
“The former Marilyn bedroom facility,” Evelyn responds, adapting her daughter’s vernacular. “I already know what’s in Patrick’s old room.
“Oh!” Evelyn then says, excitedly. “That reminds me! Don’t go away!”
Evelyn leaves Joy in the hallway and quickly dashes down to her quilt-project room. A few moments later, she emerges, holding up the navy dress. “Remember this?” she asks her daughter, as she dances the dress up the hall.
“Oh my God! Are you kidding? I was actually thinking about that dress recently. I just saw a similar one in a trendy vintage shop, priced at $120. But, it’s here! It’s still here!”
“It’s still here, and it’s still yours,” Evelyn says proudly, handing the dress to her daughter.
Joy holds the dress up to her body and checks the waistline against her own. “Fuck!” she says, smiling at her mother. “I think it might still fit!”
Evelyn’s and Joy’s first hour in Marilyn’s former bedroom did not result in finding Davy’s architectural drawings. But they worked well together, with a relaxed efficiency, and they were able to organize the various boxes and bins so that their after-dinner scavenger hunt might produce results.
Now, as she works with Claudia in the kitchen, doing final preparations on the evening’s steak and potatoes dinner, Evelyn is looking forward to the night ahead. It will be interesting to go down memory lane with another member of the family.
As she slices cucumbers for the salad, Evelyn looks up and smiles at Davy, who is sitting on his stool at the counter. Although he has an issue of The New Yorker opened in front of him, he does not, at the moment, appear to be “reading.”
“Davy,” Evelyn says to him, her smile almost teasing.
“I don’t anymore,” he replies, firmly shaking his head back and forth and reinforcing that claim with a waving-off hand gesture.
“I know that, sweetheart, but right now I’m talking about something else.”
Claudia, clearing from the counter the salad ingredients that Evelyn already has used, shares a smirk with her employer.
“Davy,” Evelyn says again, “I was thinking today about my friend Angie.”
Davy looks at Evelyn, and because she is smiling, he smiles back.
“I’m thinking, Davy, that Angie once had a crush on you—”
“Once?” he asks.
Claudia, having returned from the fridge to the counter, joins the conversation. “I think more than once.”
Davy nods. “It’s probably right,” he says. “I think very so,” he adds, still nodding.
And Evelyn is happy with the revelation. A fact Claudia had apparently been aware of as well.
The new silence in the kitchen allows them to hear some enthusiastic footsteps—bounding down the stairs and heading in their direction. Joy slows a bit before making her entrance, and when she does, twirling in the navy dress that fits perfectly, Davy is the first to respond.
“Oh now!” he says, stretching his arms out to his sides, his smile as broad as possible, “Oh now!”
“And who is your most beautiful daughter?” Joy asks her father, while looking to her mother for the scolding glance that she knows she’s earned.
“I don’t know,” says Davy. “But, oh! Now!”
“Did your sister’s relationship with your Dad bother you?” Evelyn asks Joy, as they each begin to sift through a box in Marilyn’s former bedroom.
“Oh sure,” Joy responds. “To different degrees at different times. But that’s family, right?”
Joy then extracts a framed photograph, looks at it and smiles. “Check it out,” she says to her mother, passing along a moment in time.
“Yup,” Evelyn says, absorbing the energy in the photo, taking in the desperation with which Marilyn clung to her father as he walked her down the aisle.
“Not like how you remember your dad, huh?” Joy says then.
“Nooo,” Evelyn responds, fighting a twitch of anger that would ruin her evening, “not at all like my experience.”
“That’s good, you know,” Joy suggests, with a peaceful assuredness that brings Evelyn back to the moment.
“What do you mean?”
“A lot of girls marry their dads. Not literally, but, you know, they marry the type. In an effort to get the love that they always missed. You didn’t do that, Mom.
“And—” Joy adds, “I say ‘good for you’.”
* * *
to be continued on January 8th .
In the meantime, if you want to read a short piece about the back story, click here.