The Good Girl
About a third of adults have a low level of literacy, which means they cant fill out job applications; they cant read directions or know which stop along the L track is theirs. They cant help their children with their homework.
According to research, people who live with animals have decreased anxiety and lower blood pressure. They have lower cholesterol. They are more relaxed and less stressed and are, overall, in better health. Unless of course you have a dog who pees uncontrollably wherever it wishes or eats your furniture to shreds.
an artist. My mothers deluded sense of reality. What pisses me off is that she talks like she got the short end of the stick. Like her life is full of hard knocks. She doesnt have a fucking clue what tough luck is like. I think of the mint-green trailer home, of sitting out a storm in a makeshift shelter while we watched our home blow over. Im supposed to feel sorry for you? I ask. A bird begins to warble. In the distance, another returns its call. Her voice is quiet. I never asked you to feel sorry for me. You asked a question. I gave you an answer, she confides. Youre just full of self-pity, arent you? It isnt like that. Always the victim. Im unsympathetic. This girl doesnt know a damn thing about tough luck. No, she hisses at me. She thrusts the fishing rod into my hands. Take it, she says. She unzips
As it was, being a bad mother was childs play compared to being a good mother, which was an incessant struggle, a lose-lose situation 24 hours a day; long after the kids were in bed the torment of what I did or didnt do during those hours we were trapped together would scourge my soul.
But he holds me so tightly that for a moment, the emotions are at bay. The sadness and fear, the regret and the loathing. He bottles them up inside his arms so that for a split second I dont have to be the one carrying the weight of them. For this moment, the burden is his.
But I can assume he wasnt hugged a whole lot. His family didnt pray before dinner. They didnt go camping or snuggle together on the couch for movie night. I can assume his father never helped him with his algebra homework. I can guess that at least once, someone forgot to pick him up from school. I can guess that at some point in his life, no one was paying attention to what he watched on TV. And I can guess that hes been smacked across the face by someone who shouldve known better, someone he trusted. I flip through
But if I wanted to atone, I would have bought her that sketch pad.
But mostly I think of the things I didnt do.
I didn't set out to be a bad mother, however. It just happened. As it was, being a bad mother was child's play compared to being a good mother, which was an incessant struggle, a lose-lose situation 24 hours a day; long after the kids were in bed the torment of what I did or didn't do during those hours we were trapped together would scourge my soul.
I know how betrayal and disillusionment feel, when someone who could give you the world refuses even a tiny piece of it.
imperialism: a relationship based on dominance and subordination.
my God, I think, its winter, an annual certainty, not the atomic bomb.
Picasso, thats abstract art. Kandinsky. Jackson Pollock.
She says that in Chicago she used to wish on airplanes because there were far more of those floating around in the night sky than stars. There
Shes disoriented, her visions cluttered, random memories running adrift in her mind.
Teenagers believe theyre invinciblenothing bad can happen. It isnt until later that we realize that bad things do, in fact, happen.
That I love her. That Im sorry.
Thats what he told you.
The Chicago winter is harsh. But every now and then God blesses us with a thirty-or forty-degree day to remind us that misery comes and goes.
The goal with teenagers is simply getting through it alive, with no permanent damage.
There was a time in my life when the eyes of men followed me. When men thought I was beautiful. When I passed through a room on the arm of James Dennett and every man and his covetous wife turned to stare. I feel the detectives arms around me still, the reassurance and compassion, the warmth of his flesh. But now he stands feet away and I find myself staring at the floor. His hand comes to my chin. He lifts my face, forces me to see him. Mrs. Dennett, he says, and then he starts again, knowing Im not quite looking. I cant. Im too ashamed to see whats in his eyes. Eve. I look and theres no anger, no scorn. There isnt anything in the world that Id rather do. Its just that...under the circumstances... I nod. I know. Youre an honorable man, I say. Or a good liar.
The weathermen warn us for days of the impending snowstorm that's to arrive Thursday night. The grocery stores have run out of bottle water as people prepare to take shelter in their homes; my God, I think, it's winter, an annual certainty, not the atomic bomb.
We walk quickly, hurrying to the car parked on Ainslie.
What did you want? she asks. What I wanted was a dad. Someone to take care of my mother and me, so I didnt have to do it myself. But what I tell her is Atari.