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).
Returning from the first floor with two fresh glasses of wine, Joy says, “I found your shopping list on the fridge, and I added wine.”
“That’s fine,” says Evelyn, vaguely. “Whatever.”
Joy realizes that her mother is distracted. “Whatcha got?” she asks, settling into her chair.
Evelyn hands her a photograph.
“Ah,” Joy says, studying the dog-eared photograph that appears to have never known a frame, “America’s most functional family, circa—?” Joy turns over the photo, in search of a date.
“I don’t know,” Evelyn says, her voice sounding a bit drained. “’52 or ’53 maybe.”
“Your dad was so debonair,” Joy comments, staring at the family portrait.
“Yup. That’s why the ladies liked him.”
“And your mom doesn’t look too bad here.”
“No, well, she still had Wesley and Brad to take care of. That helped.”
“And you!” Joy adds. “You’re what—? Thirteen here? Fourteen? You were still at home.”
“That’s true, but… Mother didn’t really take a lot of interest. Dad liked the boys, and so she liked the boys.”
“It’s okay,” Evelyn says, waving off the pity she presumes Joy is directing at her.
“No, I’m not talking about you—I’m talking about your mom. It’s sad that she could never get the love she needed from her husband.”
“Mmm,” Evelyn responds, her lips somewhat pursed as she attempts to disregard the sentiment.
“Did Wesley ever come out to your parents?” Joy asks, abruptly changing the subject and causing Evelyn to shake her head quickly.
A mischievous, slighty self-conscious expression grows on Evelyn’s face.
“Is the story that good?” Joy then asks her mother, her smile broad, her eyes filled with curiosity.
“There’s no story,” Evelyn states. “He never came out to any of us.”
“No way,” says Joy. “But he is gay, right?”
“Hmmm…” Evelyn says, holding her index finger to her cheek and looking up at the ceiling in alleged deep thought. “A sixty-seven-year-old resident of San Francisco who has never been married but who has had the same male roommate for the past thirty years… I wonder.”
“That’s sad,” Joy says.
“That he can’t tell you.”
“It’s okay. He’s happy.”
“I really hope this is the box,” Evelyn says, retrieving a rectangular carton from a stack in the corner and bringing it to the work area that she and Joy have created. “I’m enjoying this, don’t get me wrong. I just am starting to feel nervous about not being able to follow through on my pledge.”
“Oh, you’ll follow through, Mom. Even if you have to get Dad to do some new drawings. You won’t let those event folks down.”
“New drawings,” Evelyn says, as she uses her scissors to slip through the masking tape on the box before them. “That’s an interesting suggestion…”
“Yay!” Joy exclaims quietly, after Evelyn has pulled back the corrugated cardboard flap. “Dad’s art!”
“Doesn’t mean the architectural drawings will be in here.”
“Who cares?” Joy says, gingerly lifting up the piece on top of the stack. “Wow. Look at this!”
“He always was able to find my good side,” Evelyn comments, gazing at one of the first portraits Davy had rendered of his new bride.
“May I have it?” Joy asks, in a tone that seems to take nothing for granted.
“You want it?”
“Yes! I want to frame it and hang it in my apartment.”
“Okay,” Evelyn says, as Joy places the charcoal sketch on the floor beside her. “Just don’t hang it on the wall you share with that pyromaniac.”
“Not a pyromaniac, Mother.”
“How do you know?”
“I spoke with my super today,” Joy responds. “Seems the building had some electrical issues.”
“Oh my God!” says Evelyn, at once relieved that her daughter is in front of her, but also concerned that Joy will be returning to Brooklyn with no guarantees for safety. “Are the issues being addressed?”
“To my knowledge, they were addressed today. At least, that’s what the super said.”
“And your apartment?”
“He said I could go home tomorrow.”
But you’re home now, Evelyn wants to say.
* * *
to be continued on January 15th.
In the meantime, if you want to read a short piece about the back story, click here.