brine together. I hope George will be there too, but women live longer
George emerges, bedraggled, from the hole, with two guitars wedged
beneath one armpit, the other arm weighed with stuffed grocery bags. I
leave Beanie in the car and nearly trip over the cracked pavement.
He drops the goods on the ground. I stroke his dirty cheeks, and he
kisses me like a returned action hero. “The pipes burst in the basement.”
I silently mourn the little recording studio that George built for me.
He thrusts the hard drive my way. “It might be salvageable. I can go
back later for more.”
“No, you can’t,” I say. “You won’t.”
George takes the long way to Patty’s. Down country roads through
marshlands flush with gray herons perched on one leg like ballet danc-
ers. The mountains are spackled with smears of retreating gold light.
George says, “Maybe this is some sort of fucked-up twist of fate to get
you and Patty talking again.”
“It only takes a natural disaster and total financial insolvency.”
“You know what I mean. She’s family. She’s happy to have us.”
“I guess so,” I say.
“She’s probably so psyched about the baby.”
I cross my arms and stare out the window.
“What do you want to bet she buys a bunch of silly outfits? Those
funny bonnets with floppy flowers on them and shit.”
“You did tell her, right? About the baby?” When I don’t answer, he
sighs. “Oh, come on. Seriously?”
“You know how hard she and Paul tried,” I say. “She’ll be devastated.”
Patty will be sore, but really, I like that there’s something she doesn’t
know about me. Everything else, she wrote about. This, for now, is mine.
“You’re being a baby,” says George. “Give Patty a little credit.”
According to Adult Children of Alcoholics, a slim book Patty sucked
up while researching her own, the youngest child schemes and withholds.
Her book cover is a photo of us from high school, seated on a stone bench,
our blue jean knees knocking together. Patty painted herself as the stoic
eldest daughter who protected her naïve, selfish sister from their abusive,
drunk father. She takes a few generous liberties—the violence amplified,
dramatized, a little less true. After reading the book, I stuffed it behind
the others on the shelf, as if to hide it were to unread it.