Being with Georgette #20

gray_sunshine

Being with Georgette #20

Georgette is a river, she’s a river in the sky.

She rains. She runs off. She flows. She flows away.

She returns the next season, or the next year.

And I haven’t smoked a brisket for more than three months.

***

I answered my phone with a curt “Where are you now?”

“The ocean.”

“I hate the ocean.”

“He’ll be gone for three days.”

“You’ve been gone for three months.”

“Bring your barbecue grill,” she said and hung up.

***

A week later, the voicemail said, “Why didn’t you come? You are too hard on yourself. On me. He’s back. We’ll have you out for a weekend. He has a barbecue grill you can use.

***

Monica said, “Mom builds sand castles in the sky.”

“You have to build them somewhere.”

Monica wiped the barbecue sauce off her chin and said, “I’d build mine at the bottom of the ocean.”

“It’s as good a place as any.”

***

I gathered her umbrellas and put them in the garage. A season or two–or a year or two–will pass before she needs them again.

The cistern is full and can keep the herb garden irrigated in her absence.

There’s much to cook–much to eat–in her absence, and upon her return.

Time, temperature, and technique apply as much to rivers and sand castles as to culinary creations.

***

“You’re my moat,” she said once, and only once.

“I protect your sand castles in the sky.”

She didn’t answer. She pretended not to hear.

***

Georgette is a river, she’s a river in the sky.

She rains. She runs off. She flows. She flows away.

She returns the next season, or the next year.

And you never love the same Georgette twice.

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<< Story #19 | All Stories | About >>

Being with Georgette #19

tulips

Being with Georgette #19

Do you like my tulips?

He’s gone out for his long walk along the river and left his laptop open for once.

I could set the record straight, but why spoil his fun. Or yours! Or mine too, when it comes right down to it. I read these little stories and they are so much fiction that I forget I’m the Georgette he’s writing about. He has such a fascination for anyone with that name!

When I correct the inaccuracies in his stories, he just tells me I should make my own story series called Being Georgette. His other Georgette already took a shot at that and gave up. Apparently I was dominating her stories too.

I’m really not what he paints me to be, but I’ll play along as long as they say it seems to be helping him.

***

Some people ask me what it’s like to be the famous Georgette from his stories. I say I’m not the Georgette from his stories. I’m my own Georgette, and am famous in my own right.

They always reply: “More like infamous.”

See how he manipulates things?

He’s the one with the secrets you wouldn’t believe. But you won’t hear any of it from me. I’m his protector. He lets enough of himself out through his hints and suggestive situations and somewhat naïve narration.

***

I’m not so flighty. I’m really not. But he’s such a challenge to be around. You don’t see him between the stories. That stubborn silence. That fixed stare. That lifelessness. You just want to scream to wake him up, and when all you get is that innocent, gentle smile, followed by: “What is it Georgette?”, all you can do is fly away as far and as fast as you can. I have my own life to live.

I return now and then. Not out of duty, but out of our deep kinship. I know him better than he knows himself. And he would probably say the same about me. At least he intimates that in his stories. Or maybe I just read that into his stories.

***

I’m sorry I don’t describe things like he does. How he turns a jar of pickles into the closest thing to a confession he’s made so far. For me a jar of pickles is a jar of pickles. I look around the kitchen here and can tell you about a knife, a refrigerator, a sink, and a flickering fluorescent light that he refuses to replace. I see a rack of drying dishes and a whole chicken thawing on the counter. He’d tell you he’s making chicken ballotine, but I swear he has no clue what that is. He just read it in a book somewhere.

You see, nothing interesting develops out of such descriptions for me.

I asked him about these descriptive tricks once, and he said he just writes what he sees when he closes his eyes and watches the movie unfold. He said sometimes a word is worth a thousand pictures.

I don’t see a movie when I close my eyes. I just see blackness.

***

My garden. I could tell you about my flowers. But for me, a picture is worth a thousand words, so you’ll have to make due with the picture of my tulips. Around here, they bloom in May. I prefer to be where they bloom in February. But here I am.

***

He knows things. What he lacks in people skills he makes up for in intuition. He says maybe his problem with people comes from what he intuits of them. I tell him I think he is right, but he suspects I don’t know what I’m talking about.

He knows I have a secret or two that I can never tell him. I feel him probing me, trying to provoke me through these stories. He doesn’t know how much it would kill him to the ends of the earth to know one thing especially, and that is why he will never know. And neither will you.

***

If he were writing this, he would have ended with that last sentence. I sometimes catch on to his literary tricks. But I’m not interested in being so dramatic.  When I finished my coffee on the front porch, he was just coming up the highway from the river. So I have a little time to sign off and wish you a good day.

Sincerely,

Georgette

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<< Story #18 | All Stories | Story #20 >>

Being with Georgette #18

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Architecture au claire de lune, 1936, by Rene Magritte

Being with Georgette #18

Georgette said, “Look, the moon.”

The full moon reflected off the wide, lazy bend in the river out on the flats south of town. The lone remaining span of the old steel bridge cast the shadow of its trusses into the flow of brilliant moonlight.

I drove to the end of the new concrete highway bridge and pulled the truck onto the wide shoulder at the bridge head. The fishing access parking lot below teemed with trucks and headlights and men milling around.

“What’s everyone doing here?” Georgette asked.

“Fishing season opens at sunrise.”

“Let’s get up the hill before the moon moves.”

***

The moon had moved by the time we reached the gazebo at the top of the hill, but it had moved to a more advantageous view from that vantage point. It flooded the river with light.

Georgette sat at a picnic table and said, “When is sunrise?”

“I don’t know. Soon.”

“Can you make a fire?”

“No.”

***

Our third-grade teacher, Mr. Turner, had jumped from the old steel bridge on St. Patrick’s Day. Steel bridges and leprechauns always remind me of the Mr. Turner and the old battle axe who took his place the rest of that school year.

Georgette snored. Her head was in her arms crossed on the picnic table.

I shook her and said, “Let’s get you home. You have school in a few hours.”

She stood and looked at me, then she looked at the moon and then back at me. “I don’t like what that place did to you.”

“There was no place.”

“You’ve been gone almost a year.”

“I went to my own place.”

“And you didn’t write me.”

“No, I didn’t.”

“I wrote to you every day, but I didn’t know where to send the letters.”

“I’d like to read them.”

“I burned them on our birthday.”

***

The headlights were off when we crossed the fishing access parking lot, now lit by the growing pink light of dawn. Fishermen stood on the river bank waiting for the sun to peek over the mountains.

“There’s one already fishing,” Georgette said.

“The game warden gets a head start.”

***

Georgette climbed into the truck and gave me a clumsy kiss as I held her door.

“What’s that for?”

“No one else would have gotten up so early to pick me up.

“Your parents would have.”

“But then they’d know where I was all night.”

“They’ll know anyway.”

“I’ll tell them I was with you.”

***

When we rounded the bend in the highway near the garden center, the silhouette of the mountain range loomed before us.

Georgette let out a barely audible gasp when the first rays of the sun broke over the crest of the mountains.

She said, “It’s like the signal of a fresh start, a new beginning.”

I hesitated a moment too long before saying, “And it happens every day.”

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<< Story #17 | Index of Stories | Story #19 >>

Being with Georgette #17

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Being with Georgette #17

The wedge of darkness framed by the cream-colored door jamb and cream-colored door meant nothing to me for many years–other than indicating the passage to the basement below.

Then yesterday Georgette asked me to take the basket of jarred pickles to the basement.

***

The light bulbs flickered when I switched them on, and then at once they went dark with a pop.

I descended the steep steps clasping the basket of warm pickle jars to my chest, slowly doubting the wisdom of storing the spare light bulbs in the basement.

Without incident I found the workbench and next to it the shelves lined with jarred pickles. Georgette wouldn’t let a summer pass without putting up a dozen jars of pickles, but why she never eats them is beyond me.

The light bulbs had disappeared. Or been moved. So too had the spare flashlight.

My eyes had adjusted enough to the darkness that, aided by the slim light from above, I could put the jars on this year’s shelf and take a jar from last year to the basement couch. And there, crunching on last year’s pickles, I remembered another dark basement, another slim light from above, and another voice joining Georgette’s in the kitchen.

***

Georgette said, “Because he’s cracked, that’s why.”

Georgette’s mother said, “He’s been like that since the two of you were born.”

“That’s not my fault.”

“It never bothered you before.”

“He’s charming when we’re at home,” Georgette said, “But he needs to leave me alone at school. You know how the other girls talk.”

“The other boys too.”

Georgette said nothing to that. I could feel her blush from all the way down stairs.

***

“Don’t eat all the apricots,” a voice said nearby.

I froze.

A small lamp turned on, flooding the basement with a dim, shadowy light. Georgette’s father sat in his recliner, his headphones in his hands. The arm of the record player lifted and swung out of the way for the next record to drop onto the turntable.

I said, “But they are peaches.”

“So they are.”

Rows and rows and shelves and shelves of glass jars full of apricots, peaches, pears, strawberry jam, and pickles lined one wall of the basement.

“I don’t know why no one eats them, but Georgette’s mother can’t let a summer pass without putting up something or other never to see the light of day again.”

I screwed the lid back on the jar of peaches and put it on the side table next to the lamp. Then I climbed up on the workbench and out the basement window onto the damp grass outside.

The lamp went out in the basement, but the light in the kitchen remained on, with two silhouettes on the blinds talking back and forth at each other, the shorter one gesticulating wildly.

I was more careful after that about sneaking into their basement to spend the night on the spare sofa. I learned to wait until the lamp went out and a third silhouette appeared on the blinds before letting myself in.

***

I searched again for the light bulbs, but found my old turntable instead and a lamp that had caught my bedroom curtains on fire because I had removed the shade to wear as a hat for Halloween.

I plugged the lamp in and it instantly flooded the room with a dim and shadowy light, casting the baseballs, footballs, and basketballs on its shade against the walls, against the shelves, against the shelving unit with six dozen jars of pickles, a dozen minus one on each shelf. The minus one accounting for the one jar I eat when putting away the next year’s jars.

I put one of Georgette’s records on to play and ate another pickle.

And as I lay on the basement sofa, dreaming about peaches, I wished I had a pair of headphones to hold in my own hands. 

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<< Story #16 | Index of Stories | Story #18 >>

Being with Georgette #16

Hiroshige II Utagawa

Enshu, Flying Kite, 1859-1861, by Hiroshige II Utagawa

Being with Georgette #16

The red kite rose above the crest of the bluff and quickly flew out of my view from the desk inside the sliding glass door of our hotel room. The kite’s tail remained suspended a moment, jangling its yellow and orange bow ties she had folded out of the stack of napkins from the continental breakfast bar.

My writing stopped of its own accord, and my crutches appeared in my hands, unbidden. However, dragging myself to the door and opening it took my own effort, and was my own achievement.

The air was stagnant, and the ocean but a flattened sheet of glass.

And yet the kite flew higher and higher.

I stopped short when the right crutch knocked chunks of sandstone over the edge of the bluff. Four seconds passed before they crashed against the rocks on the beach below.

She giggled like a school girl. 

Her long, flowing dress fluttered in the same non-existent breeze that lifted the kite.

She had powers beyond my comprehension.

* * *

Her dark, opaque eyes fixed on me with impenetrable mirth.

She spoke, but I heard nothing from that distance.

She spoke again, and I could almost read her lips.

She repeated herself, and I leaned forward. I leaned forward a little too far and tumbled into the blue sky, the sandy beach, blue sky, sandy beach, red kite, and beautiful woman.

I reached for the tail of the distant kite, wondering how long four seconds lasted when falling in a dream.

* * *

I was already sitting up when I awoke with a start. I held her night-time pony tail in my left hand.

Her dark, opaque eyes fixed on me with impenetrable mirth, and her lips moved silently. Then clearly and distinctly, but still from the depths of sleep, she said, “I know I’ve always been your other Georgette.”

I let go of her pony tail and said, “But I love you.”

“I know,” she said, “That’s what makes it okay.”

* * *

Unlike my original Georgette, my other Georgette only left me once, but that was for good–and there was nothing good about it. 

* * *

In the dark times after her disappearance, that dream of the kite recurred frequently: the only difference being that I always woke to an empty bed. She was no longer there to accuse me, but I did enough of that for myself.

Wherever I am when I find the sun sinking in the sky, I look for a red kite to suddenly draw me tumbling back into her opaque and impenetrable life. But the deepest part of me knows that won’t happen until I fall the full four seconds and wake up with a start in another kind of bed, where I can finally comprehend the full extent of her powers. And her judgment.

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<< Story #15 | Index of Stories | Story #17 >>

Being with Georgette #15

René_Magritte_The_Human_Condition

“The Human Condition”, 1933, by Rene Magritte,

Being with Georgette #15

Or I stare into the blank mirror, wondering what Georgette took of me this time.

And I gaze into the deep blue cloudless sky, wondering what she left of herself this time.

But I find only the vague reflection of my eyes staring back, wondering from the other side of the deep blue cloudless mirror.

Or I stand at the window, measuring the depth of the snow. Is it April or October? Winter’s belated farewell or early reckoning? The sun stares from the same spot in the same deep blue cloudless sky as the moment she had arrived. Was it October or April?

And I stand at the window, staring into the utterly empty living room full of her carefully (tediously) selected furniture and décor.

But I find only the vague reflection of my eyes staring back, straight into my deep blue cloudless eyes. Wondering from the other side of the utterly empty window. Searching for what she took of me. For what she left of herself.

This time.

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<< Story #14 | Index of Stories | Story #16 >>

Being with Georgette #14

stormy_weather_pas_de_calais

“Stormy Weather, Pas de Calais”, 1870, by Camille Corot

Being with Georgette #14

“Why didn’t you ever marry my mom?”

Monica had entered the kitchen with all the grace of a fifteen-year-old.

I dropped the plate into the sudsy water and looked out past Monica into the living room.

“It’s okay,” she said. “They went out to get their marriage license and watch a movie.”

I began washing the plate again.

“I never asked her,” I said.

“I’m asking why you never asked her. You’ve been friends since childhood.”

“We’ve been friends since the day we were born.”

“Mom said your mothers shared the same hospital room.”

“According to the story your grandma always told, Georgette and I shared the same incubator for a week.”

“How is that even possible?”

“Our rural hospital had only one.”

“Mom was a month premature, but what was wrong with you?”

“I wouldn’t eat, wouldn’t look around, wouldn’t cry. They put us together to help each other.”

“Did it work?”

“She improved and a week later they tried to remove her from the incubator. Your grandmother said the doctors had to pry our hands apart. That was the first time she went away from me. That was also the first time I cried. So it helped me indirectly.”

“Then why didn’t you ever ask her to marry you?”

“It’s hard to say.”

“Can’t be that hard. Just say it.”

“I mean I don’t know why not. I just didn’t.”

“You’re impossible.”

“What does your mother say?”

“She says you’re impossible too.”

“About why we never married.”

“She says because you can’t marry yourself. Whatever that means.”

Wuthering Heights was always her favorite book.”

* * *

Monica had tired of talking to my back. She overcame the compunctions of youth and started drying the dishes.

“What does the book have to do with what mom said?”

“Haven’t you read it?”

“No.”

“Your mother never made you read it?”

“Mom never made me read anything.”

“Because her mother forced her to read all the time.”

“So what does it mean?”

“You’ll have to read it for yourself.”

“So you don’t force, you just manipulate.”

“I encourage. So don’t read it then.”

* * *

Monica had the attitude of a teenager but still the hands of a child. Her fingers clumsily rubbed the towel across the silverware. Her nails were small and splotched with faded and peeling nail polish of various colors.

“I did read Jane Austen, though,” she said, her hands getting lost in the folds of the dish towel.

“What Bronte sister wrote that one?”

She stopped drying and looked out the window into the gray sky.

“You must mean Jane Eyre,” she said.

“What did she write?”

Monica returned to drying, a little too vigorously, and said, “You’re teasing me, Uncle Cliff.”

“Maybe. Or I’m teasing them.”

I pulled the plug in the drain and rinsed the suds from the sink.

“You know my name is not really Cliff. That’s just what Georgette always calls me.”

“You always signed your letters ‘Cliff.’ And you always called her ‘Kitty’.”

“You’ve seen our letters?”

“I found them in a box in the garage.”

“I’d like to read them.”

“Don’t you have yours?”

“I gave mine to her before her first marriage.”

“To Heath’s dad?”

“Yes. Your mother was going to call her first son Heath and her first daughter Heather because of that book. Why did she name you Monica?”

“My dad’s grandma’s name. What is your real name?”

I told her my name.

“Cliff suits you better.”

Monica draped the damp dish towel over the handle of the oven door.

“I’ll go find those letters,” she said. Then she stopped and looked me coldly in the eyes and said, “Don’t you dare tell my mom I helped you do the dishes. She’d be very disappointed in me.”

* * *

Three days later, after I had served as witness at Georgette and Stewart’s civil wedding ceremony, I was doing the breakfast dishes before heading to the airport for my flight back home.

“That’s why Stewart likes you,” Monica said. “He doesn’t have to do the dishes as long as you’re around.”

“Nothing wrong with doing the dishes. It gives me time to think, and it’s useful.”

Monica had her school books in her arms. She came closer and gave me a half hug across my shoulders. Between two textbooks I saw a tattered library copy of Wuthering Heights.

Crossing into the living room, Monica turned back and said, “Don’t worry Uncle Cliff. The way mom goes through men, you’ll have other chances to marry her.” She paused and almost blushed when she added, “Not even death could end your friendship.”

I smiled and said, “But marriage certainly would.”

She laughed and ran out the door, ran off to school, ran off across the sweeping moors of timeless adolescence.

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<< Story #13 | Index of Stories | Story #15 >>

Being with Georgette #13

 

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Being with Georgette #13

I’ve not always welcomed Georgette back with open arms after one of her absences.

One night I opened the door to find Georgette standing on my porch dressed lightly in a skirt, blouse, windbreaker, and purple canvas shoes with two feet of snow in the yard behind her. A thumb was hooked under a strap of a backpack, the only physical baggage she had with her.

She fixed her black eyes on me, refusing–as always–to speak first. The moment froze as hard as that year’s winter.

“You always call ahead,” I said.

“I didn’t have time.”

“I don’t either.”

“You don’t what either?”

“Have time.” Her eyebrows furrowed before I added, “For you.”

“Why not?”

“You know why not.”

Georgette looked up the road into the darkness. She squeezed and opened the hand hanging at her side.

“Just give me a lift to town then.”

***

The roads were newly iced over, so I drove slowly, making the silence all the longer, all the more palpable. Georgette sat small and distantly in the passenger’s seat; my other Georgette’s spare winter coat hung loosely over her shoulders. It was much too large for her which only increased the caricature of her smallness.

“Drop me at the motel at the edge of town. I can manage from there.”

I drove past the motel and took her to a nice hotel downtown.

“I can’t afford this place.”

“I’ll pay.”

***

“How many nights?” the clerk asked. He was tall, thin, and young, in an ill-fitting maroon uniform.

“One,” Georgette said.

“Double?”

“Single,” we said in unison.

While the clerk processed my payment, Georgette asked, “When is the shuttle to the airport?”

The clerk and I both stared at her. Him because he was slow to answer unexpected questions. Me because I knew she knew better.

The clerk said, “You have to take the bus up to the freeway and over to Northaven where you can catch the shuttle.”

Georgette nodded curtly.

I fought back an impulse to ask if she could afford the flight. I didn’t need to appear over-concerned, and she always visited me with an open return ticket. She would manage.

I handed Georgette a hundred dollar bill, and when she hesitated I said, “For the bus.”

She took it, and the clerk winked at me. 

***

I drove home even slower than on the way to town. The silence grew still longer, but less palpable–more ethereal–as whorls of gritty snow danced briskly across the road.

The last I had seen of Georgette she was helping the clerk up off the floor and inspecting the sudden redness and swelling around the eye that had winked at me. I’m no different than you. I too abhor violence–except when it’s strictly necessary. Or when it’s useful. Or when it just plain makes me feel better.

Georgette had stiffened her back against me, and I didn’t wait around for elaborate editorials on her part.

***

Six years passed before Georgette stood on my porch again. The summer sunshine was more suitable to her light outfit of skirt, blouse, windbreaker, and purple canvas shoes, but she also had more baggage.

She had taken the time to call ahead, and I had the time to let her in, because by then she was my last remaining Georgette.

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<< Story #12 | Index of Stories| Story #14 >>

Being with Georgette #12

canola

Being with Georgette #12

When I finished preparing dinner, Georgette had disappeared. She wasn’t in the house. She wasn’t in her garden.

She knew her fish was almost ready, so I had no idea why I finally found her in the middle of the canola field across the highway holding a beach ball.

***

At golden hour, the yellow canola blossoms glow with an ethereal radiance. I had told Georgette the night before that the effect was due to over-saturation of yellow sunlight on the blossoms. Many colorful things look magical when over-saturated.

Georgette said, “It’s more magical if you don’t explain it.”

I did not say out loud that it’s even more magical when you understand it because you also understand how it connects to other magical things in the universe. I did not say it because she had already stopped listening to me before I could begin saying it.

Now Georgette stood among the glowing yellow blossoms that climbed to her waist. Georgette herself glowed with an ethereal radiance, but not due to over-saturation. Her dark hair and dark green dress contrasted with the glowing yellow blossoms around her. Her ethereal radiance came from within.

***

I crossed the highway and waved to Georgette from the edge of the field.

Georgette waved the beach ball over her head.

I shouted that her fish was getting cold, but she just waved the beach ball over her head again.

I stepped into the field. The canola stems and blossoms parted easily, but the leafy green plants on the ground grabbed at my feet.

When I was halfway to Georgette, I shouted again that her fish was getting cold.

Georgette turned her back to me and threw the ball as high as she could, letting it fall between us.

I approached the ball, picked it up, and took it to Georgette.

I said, “Your fish–“

“I heard you the first time,” Georgette snapped. She snatched the ball from my hands and ran away giggling.

I ran after her, and when I grabbed her arm, we fell to the ground in a clumsy embrace. What followed was even more clumsy, and perfectly silly, but suitable for the moment in a grown-up kind of way.

***

I said, “Your fish is probably frozen again by now.”

Georgette straightened her dress, still glowing with her ethereal radiance.

She said, “You’re the one who’s over-saturated.”

I said, “Why did you come out here when you knew dinner was almost ready.

She said, “All you think about is food.”

I said, “I think of other things too.”

“Not as much as you used to,” she said. “Even at sunset.”

***

The sun had set, but dusk falls slowly here in the weeks after the summer solstice.

As we crossed the highway to my front yard, I said, “Now what will we have for dinner?”

“You’ll think of something.”

Then Georgette stopped me and flung her arms around me. She whispered as though her life depended on it, “Go back and get the beach ball. I’ll make you an omelet.”

“Why do we need the ball?”

Georgette smiled and said, “Monica is pregnant.”

***

I took my time finding the beach ball.

When I finally returned to the house, Georgette said, “Your omelet is cold.”

She took the beach ball and cradled it like it was her first grandchild.

I said, “But it’s not over-saturated.”

“And it never will be, ” she said. Then she smiled at the beach ball and said, “And it’s even more magical because you also understand how it connects to other magical things in the universe.”

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<< Story #11 | Index of Stories| Story #13 >>

Being with Georgette #11

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Being with Georgette #11

The small trailer hitched to my truck bounced over the potholes in the grocery store parking lot.

“Careful,” Georgette barked. “That’s my stuff.”

“Why are we stopping here?” I asked. “We can come back after dropping off your stuff at your school.”

“Turn off the engine.”

I turned off the engine.

“I’m not going to school this year.”

“So why did I bring you up here?”

Georgette said, “I’m going away.”

A bird landed on the hood ornament of the truck.

“With someone?” I asked.

“Yeah.”

I honked the horn, and the bird flew away.

“Someone else?”

“Don’t say it like that.”

***

I unhitched the trailer and blocked its wheels.

Georgette stared straight ahead when I got back in the truck.

“When will he be here?”

She looked at me and said plainly, “You don’t have to wait.”

“I’m not leaving you alone in a parking lot with your trailer.”

Georgette said, “Please don’t make a scene.”

“I’m not making a scene.”

“I mean when he gets here.”

“I never make a scene.”

“I know.”

“But you always tell me to not make a scene.”

“I know.”

“I won’t make a scene.”

“I know.”

***

We ate burgers in the truck as the sun went down.

Georgette said, “Don’t tell my dad.”

“What will I say at Christmas?”

“He’ll know everything by then.”

“What about Thanksgiving.”

She said, “Don’t go home for Thanksgiving.”

“I have to go somewhere; they close campus.”

“You can come stay with me. With us.”

“He must be quite a guy.”

***

At eleven-thirty I said, “My dorm closes at midnight.”

“No it doesn’t.”

“I can call the floor advisor, but they won’t let you in.”

“Why would I need in?”

“He’s not coming.”

“He’ll come.”

***

At dawn, Georgette said, “Have you slept?”

“A little.”

“When does your dorm open again?”

“Seven.”

“I’ll sleep when you’re in class.”

“My classes don’t start until tomorrow.”

“Can you drive me back home today?”

“Why don’t you just go to school? Your classes don’t start for two more days.”

“I thought our schools started the same day.”

“No.”

“That explains it then.”

“That explains what?”

“He’ll pick me up today. We were a day early.”

***

By three in the afternoon, he had come and they had gone.

I didn’t make a scene.

I stopped by her college to see if they cared to know she wouldn’t be attending.

On a table outside the administration office was a table scattered with a few name tags of the freshmen who hadn’t yet arrived for orientation–and at least one who never would.

I took Georgette’s and tore it in two.

A sweet voice said, “That’s mine.”

I turned around.

She was taller and darker than Georgette.

I said, “You don’t look like Georgette Jaynes.”

“I’m Georgette Gray.”

I put the two pieces of torn paper together. In a smaller font, centered under the large first name, was the last name “Gray”.

The name tag for Georgette Jaynes stared at me from the table with the same screaming silence Georgette had mastered long ago.

I handed Georgette the pieces of her name tag and tore the other one to bits, muting the silence.

“Were you waiting for someone?” she asked.

“I’ve learned not to wait. I just exist while others are deciding when to show up.”

She smiled and said, “Do you believe in happy coincidences?”

“No,” I said, unable to return her smile. “But that doesn’t stop me from pursuing the interesting ones.”

And that is how I ended up with two Georgettes in my life.

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