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).
Although the house is remarkably quiet for just past midnight, Evelyn does not feel alone. She knows that her daughter, who called it a night at 11:30, is probably already asleep or reading quietly in bed. And because Joy volunteered to move her father from his sleeping place in the family room to his actual bed, Davy is “put away” for the night.
Hmm, Evelyn thinks, as she approaches the dry bar and pours a glass of wine to take to the project room, I wonder what happened when Joy took Davy to bed. Did she tuck him in or did she tuck the sheets in?
Evelyn smiles at the thought. And she smiles at the sense of peace she is feeling, however temporarily.
Evelyn reaches into the glass bowl and extracts a sheet of paper: JOY AGE 15 - ? Though the open-endedness of the age range didn’t strike her the other night when she was creating all these folded-up squares, tonight it makes her laugh.
My God! she thinks, as she sets aside the paper and stands to retrieve the appropriate box. What if I open the box and see that sweater that Joy was wearing today? Then, I will indeed be spooked!
The first article of clothing does not spook Evelyn. But it certainly surprises her. She shakes her head in disbelief. “A dress?” she asks no one in the room. “Joy didn’t wear a dress until ten years ago.”
But as Evelyn stands up, so as to give the dress its full length, she remembers the occasion, and she particularly remembers the trip she and Joy made to the store so that Joy might have an appropriate outfit for Marilyn and Barry’s rehearsal dinner.
“PPppff!” Joy said, at the traffic light, her sense of disdain palpable and extremely irritating to her mother.
“What now?” Evelyn asked, hard-pressed to withhold her exasperation.
“You could have made the light,” was her daughter’s snippy response.
“But I didn’t, so please, please get over it.”
“PPppff!” the sixteen-year-old Joy repeated.
“What is the matter, sweetheart?” Evelyn asked her daughter, her struggle for patience evident in the white knuckles that framed the top of the steering wheel.
“Oh, nothing. I’m just getting my period.”
“Just getting your period,” Evelyn echoed, giving the statement a limited amount of support.
“It just seems like an excuse to me, that’s all. We didn’t have that when I was growing up, you know. We didn’t have PMS.”
“Right. You were just even-keeled all the time.”
“I don’t know. It’s just—I don’t know.”
And Evelyn really didn’t know, she realizes now. She just didn’t know, back then, that “things” like PMS were real. In some far corner of her mind, she viewed Joy’s generation as a group who was trying to explain away their responsibilities, trying to distract those who might challenge them by drawing lines between entities that were unrelated. Evelyn couldn’t see the connections because she had never made them. And she certainly hadn’t made the connection between body and mind.
“How ‘bout this one?” Evelyn asked, holding up the first size 7 dressy dress she came across once they’d arrived at the department store’s junior section.
“It looks like something a Republican would wear,” Joy said, sneering.
“Okay…” Evelyn replied, holding the dress out and giving it a really good look-over. “I won’t argue with that.”
Evelyn returned the “Republican” dress to the rack and continued to look through the selections. All the while, Joy stood there. Perhaps she wanted to look, but the impulse that didn’t want to look was winning out.
“Here!” Evelyn said, having come across a navy blue number that might be the ticket. “Look at this—”
Evelyn then held up for her daughter the dress they would ultimately buy. A beautiful summer frock with spaghetti straps, a full, mid-calf length ballerina skirt, and a smocked backing.
When Joy saw it, she almost forgot that her period was coming.
Gazing at the dress now, Evelyn realizes that it probably is not a very good candidate for the quilt. With no patterns or changes in color, it is simply too simple. It would appear, on a quilt, as one very large, same-colored square, with no particular story to tell.
But… the dress is still beautiful and still in good shape. So Evelyn sets it aside. Perhaps Joy will want to own it again. If she can still fit in a junior size 7 (and Evelyn suspects she can), Joy might even be delighted to wear it again.
* * *
to be continued on December 11th .
In the meantime, if you want to read a short piece about the back story, click here.