What are you supposed to do with the hangdog husband who returns years later? Kicked out by the mistress he left you for, he now finds himself homeless, penniless. Shameless even as he dares knock on your door. To outsiders you’re either a saint for putting up with the father of your children, or a fool for allowing his return. Think what they may, there’s that secret part inside you that smiles wickedly at his misfortune. You are now his hero, the one he should never have let go; even as venom pours from your pores into his bitter coffee.
She is named Catherine of Aragon. She wears a sea-blue gown with a bustle that cascades into an opulent fishtail of iridescent greens. This porcelain figurine holds an ivory fan in one gloved hand and the other fidgets with the curls that rest on her bare shoulders. The remaining details are a blur, overshadowed by the exaggeratedly thin waistline and bursting bustier. For centuries, women suffered tremendously to tighten their corsets. So why do I hold on to a collection that I have no personal connection to? I guess for the same reason I hold on dearly to Austen’s world.
It’s a large summer reading undertaking: Gone with the Wind for the first time. Oh, but how it’s caught my imagination. I no longer see Vivien Leigh or Clarke Gable. I am sipping lemonade at Tara’s porch, taking in the dizzying scent of magnolias. The Tarleton twins approach, horsing around; each wishing to win Scarlett’s heart. Their friendly rivalry holds no jealousy, a marvel that only two people who have shared the womb can sustain. I long to hold suitors’ fascination the same way the irrepressible Scarlett does. Learn to tilt my head and bat my lashes in playful flirtation.
She meant to wear a modest A-line with long sleeves to cover her thin arms. The saleslady, however, insisted she try the flowing ones. “A girl,” she said while pulling up the zipper, “marries only once.” Doris marveled at her reflection. The lace bodice and sleeves covered her completely while the satin skirt draped gracefully. A handful of sequin insets twinkled like falling snowflakes caught in the glow of a lamppost. The clincher though was the back. A porthole opening surrounded by sequins caught her imagination, an insider reassurance that there was always a way to escape a suffocating institution.
I held pens tight. Ink stains seemed permanently embedded in the grooves where the middle digit bends. If the pen leaked, the ink smudged all the way to the webbing between the thumb and pointer.
Oh sure, I had a typewriter, but homework had to be handwritten. I had to think through responses before writing them out for there was no back spacing or seamless editing. I have lost that art. My smudge-free fingers fly across a keyboard, but it’s truly mindless activity in the guise of stream of thought. No more. I welcome callouses, the chinks of hard work.