LaVerne spent her first night in the house sitting by the front door. The air smelled like damp summertime. The air was cool, and a little balmy. It was mid May, lilacs were blooming, there were stars in the sky. It was a beautiful night by anyone’s standards, it was beautiful to her because it had been so long since she had felt night air on her skin. So long since she had sat in a chair and was physically comfortable and also knew who and where she was.
Words came to her. “She is not in pain, she is not scared.” She could feel her daughter’s words. “This is a happy day.” Her daughter’s words again. Somehow her daughter understood that everything was okay. That she was safe, that all was well.
LaVerne did not know how she knew these words or that they were her daughter’s words. It didn’t matter just now as the words brought her comfort and made her feel that she could truly relax and let go of that old life. She could choose to be concerned about her son, but for now she was going to remain confident that the world was as it should be and there was no work left for her to do.
She watched the stars in the sky. She looked for shapes in the stars. Triangles, squares, rhombuses. She never knew the actual constellations, she had preferred her own forms that she could find on her own. She looked at the moon with this bright light yellow and its darker gray craters. Once she had taught children about this moon, about this Earth. She had no idea where she was now, but it was no place that she had ever taught from any textbook. It wasn’t even a place she had pictured in any Bible or any Sunday school class.
A chair scraped behind her, Leta came to hold her hand. To mother her daughter in this doorway as had been done since time immemorial. They sat in silence because I can not think of any dialogue to write for them right now, and I must keep writing because I wanted to write four thousand words today and I’ve only just begun. I am so tired from this long day mothering the little boy that I would adore the chance to just fall asleep, but that can not happen yet. There is water to be drunk, the left freedom breast to be pumped, and then some sleep can follow. But until then, I will jump ahead in this scene and write what came to me over dinner.
LaVerne asked, “How did we do it? How did we work so hard for so many years? I learned by watching you, your habits, I took them for my own, but how did we make it work? My girls never kept house like I did, never had meals like I did. I don’t understand how we made it happen.”
Leta sat for a while, picturing her own life and her own kitchen and her own four square home behind the grocery store in town. “Would it have been okay for you to have had a messy home?”
LaVerne almost laughed at the idea, “No, Mother, my home was my control, my home was always peaceful. My home was safe. A messy home would not have let me felt safe.”
“Well then, who would have kept that home clean if not you?”
“Well, Charles would have done a bit, he was never a messy man, you saw his workshop. But he never cooked a meal in all his years.”
“So who would have kept the house clean?” Leta pressed.
“And who would have cooked the meals?”
“You have your answer, daughter. We made it work because it was the only way we could picture living, and there was no one else to do the work. That is what started cooking the meals at five in the afternoon, every afternoon. That is what cleaned up after the meal at the 630 in the evening, every evening. We were the only ones who would be doing it, no one was coming along behind us to lend a hand. It was our home and it was up to us to take care of it.”
“Do you think that was the right way?” LaVerne asked.