A NOTE BEFORE READING: I began sharing weekly excerpts from my novel, The Somebody Who, on June 26, 2010. 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).
“Davy,” Evelyn says quietly, nudging him into an awake state. “Davy. I think you should come up to bed now.”
“Are you—? Are you too?” he asks, standing up unsteadily.
“I’ll come up with you,” Evelyn replies.
They make their way down the hallway and up the stairs without conversing. Evelyn knows that at this hour, Davy’s transference from family room to bed is pretty much a matter of coached sleep-walking. And, she doesn’t want to change that. With each night in the Quilt Room, she is feeling increasingly directed. She doesn’t want to lose her momentum.
After putting Davy to bed, Evelyn returns to the Quilt Room. She decides to leave the door opened because she is sure Davy will not wake up anytime soon. Then, having made that one decision, she makes another. She goes across the hall to Adam’s bedroom, which looks much as he left it. She opens the door, crosses to the windows and opens one. The air feels good, and she will enjoy feeling its crispness nip the back of her neck as she continues sifting through the boxes of clothes in Patrick’s former bedroom.
She takes a seat and draws a square from the bowl. Unfolds it slowly.
ADAM again. This time the AGE is 11-14.
“Oh, Adam,” she says to no one, “am I supposed to get to know you tonight? Is that what this is about?” She retrieves the appropriate box and sets it down in front of her.
“Alright, then,” she continues, “tell me about Adam.”
She opens the box and extracts the shirt that tops the pile. A taupe dress shirt. Nicely tailored and a great color for her son. She feels confused as she looks at it, because she cannot immediately picture him wearing it. She studies it. The front. The back. And then, her mind’s eye recalling a moment she didn’t know had been stored, she hugs the shirt and smiles.
Davy was sitting at his usual place at the counter, reading The New Yorker and occasionally sharing a particularly funny cartoon. Evelyn, on the other side of the counter, was preparing their Saturday night dinner. With Joy and Adam the only kids at home, Saturday night had become more relaxed. It had become Davy’s and Evelyn’s night—a night to rent a movie and enjoy the marvels of their new VCR.
Often, on these Saturday nights, Joy would be out with a boyfriend or a gaggle of girls. And Adam, less social, would opt to stay upstairs—working on an architectural model, reading a book, or watching sit-coms on his own portable television.
But, on this particular night, Adam was dressed in a beautiful taupe shirt. Because he had a date. With a girl named Jen.
And he was very nervous.
“Just let me know when you’re ready to go,” Davy said calmly, looking up from The New Yorker and smiling at Adam.
“You okay, Sweetie?” Evelyn asked her son, looking at him proudly as he stood there unable to hide his twitching nerves.
“I guess,” he responded, his voice cracking.
“What movie are you taking her to?” his mother asked next.
“The Princess Bride,” Adam replied.
“A good choice,” said Davy, closing the magazine in front of him. “A good compromise.”
“What do you mean?” Adam asked, still twitching in a way that made Evelyn want to cry.
“It’s good,” his father replied. “It’s a good date movie. Not too guy-y. I mean, I think she’ll like it.”
“I don’t know,” Adam said then, utterly uncomfortable; staring at the floor.
Davy and Evelyn exchanged glances in that moment. Glances that were full of love and curiosity.
“So, Jen is in a few of your classes?” Evelyn asked then.
“We’re in Geology together. We’re lab partners.”
“Lab partners,” Davy said then. “Sounds pretty serious.”
When Adam reacted to this comment, Evelyn could tell, from glancing at her husband, that he immediately regretted having made it.
And Davy, quickly feeling the discomfort in the room, leapt for some recovering line.
“I remember Geology!” he said, with a light tone that immediately changed the room’s energy. “It’s a gneiss rock, don’t—”
“Take it for granite,” Adam chimed in.
“There you go!” Davy said. “That’s how you get an A in Geology!”
“You obviously have very ‘sedimental’ memories, Dad.”
“See! That’s what I’m talking about! Geology humor!”
“All right,” said Evelyn, relieved by the lightened mood. “So, is it time to go?”
“Yeah,” said Adam, his mood clearly less ominous. “I told her we’d pick her up at seven-thirty.”
“Then, it’s time to go!” Davy exclaimed, dismounting his counter stool and grabbing his car keys from the rack near the wall phone.
And as Adam and Davy headed through the utility room to the garage, Evelyn heard her son’s final plea: “Just don’t embarrass me, okay?”
Bless his heart, Evelyn thinks now. For all his years of being completely there, Davy never once embarrassed his son.
And yet, these days, Adam seems to be embarrassed simply by his father’s existence. Davy is doing nothing to deliberately hurt or undermine Adam. Davy is just doing. “Just doing that thing,” as Davy himself would say. But, everything Davy does these days seems to be something that fills Adam with shame.
Evelyn wishes she could reach Adam somehow. Or rather, that he would make an effort to reach her. She knows that behind that hyper-political head, which is always jumping on the next protest train, there is a huge heart and an opened mind. She wishes he would share it with her. Tell her what he really thinks. Show her who he really is.
* * *
to be continued on March 26th .
In the meantime, if you want to read a short piece about the back story, click here.