Sunday, July 19, 2015


I had to go back to Alice this week.  I have a list of things that have to happen to Norah in the next few scenes - reactions she has to things, letters she receives, impulsivity that overcomes her.  But, I had a flash of something for Alice, too, and I wanted to go back.  Here's a little preview of Alice's high school graduation.  She won't know until years later that this weekend was pivotal.

“Mom,” said Alice on Wednesday evening, face still red from track practice.  “Are we sure this is a good idea?”

Evelyn methodically unfolded a top sheet, making up the guest room for Dot, Frank’s mother.  “It’s a nice thing to do,” Evelyn sighed, snapping a pillowcase and frowning at the wrinkles.

“Want me to iron it?” Alice asked, smiling.  They both knew Dot would notice and comment on the wrinkles.  And the mildewed grout in the shower, the pile of unsorted mail on the end table by the back door, and Alice’s round face.

“I wonder when you’ll lose that baby fat?” Dot would say over dessert, probably after graduation, probably frowning at the way Alice’s dress pulled across her lap.  

“There,” Evelyn said, pulling the bedspread up over the offending pillowcase and patting it with her right hand.  “This will be nice, Alice,” she said nodding to herself.  Alice raised her eyebrows and curled up the left side of her mouth.

“Maybe,” she said, “but probably not.”

On Thursday evening, Ethan and Alice exchanged resigned glances as they took their places in the minivan.  “Okay, good,” Evelyn said as she turned the key.  Silence weighted the threesome as they drove the twenty minutes to the Twin Cities International Airport.  As they pulled into the arrivals lane, Alice scanned the waiting travelers on the curb.  Dread settled in her stomach, a sourness rising to the back of her throat.

Evelyn took a long, audible inhale through her nose.

And then Frank appeared, planted in front of Door 6 exactly as he’d said he’d be, shoulders back, the remnants of a scowl in his eyes.  A scraggly white mustache obscured his upper lip and his cheeks, Alice noticed as Evelyn drew the van to a tentative stop against the curb, appeared red - sore and chapped.  Dot materialized just behind his left shoulder.  Alice blinked twice, released her seatbelt, and pulled the handle on the passenger door.

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