Lady Gilda was sitting on a bench overlooking Central Park. It was by 57th street and Park Ave. On her right she could see the city types walking up and down the avenue, hailing taxis, rushing to make their millions, and on the left she'd see the park at a distance; a row of trees that have been there long before Lady Gilda was even alive. She named the trees Monroe, Sinatra and Holiday and she'd greet them every morning. Even in the snowy days, when New York's finest would shiver back at their tiny apartments, Lady Gilda would brave the freeze and make her way down the block and to her favorite bench. It was always vacant, waiting for her to occupy it. It was hers and it knew it well.
One cold morning, Lady Gilda arrived at the bench, and noticed Park officials were hovering around the ole' Holiday tree. It was white color and yet it wasn't snow season yet. 'Must be some fungus.' She thought to herself and she was right. A week later, Holiday was chopped down, leaving Monroe and Sinatra trailing behind. The thing about fungus in the forest - is that much like a virus for humans, the spread spreads like a California wildfire.
And so fast forward a few weeks later, and Lady Gilda was looking at the empty shells that were once Monroe, Sinatra and Holiday. Her heart burned like a California wildfire, but she kept coming to the bench to greet those trees, even when they were no longer there. Because like those trees, she had no children. No one to remember her once she would be gone. The bench was all she had. One day she came by and a park ranger was waiting by the bench with a big New York smile. 'Surprise.' He said, and presented a new addition to the bench: an arm rest made from pieces from the ole' three trees. So Lady Gilda could rest her arm on her beloved three, while looking at their empty spaces.
And so she did. She came to the bench day after day until her very last day. Resting her arm, and resting her eyes.
And if you pass by a bench near 57th street and park, look for the carving M, S & H, and send a little greeting to Lady Gilda. Because her memory is always there, even if SHE is not.
Billie made her way through to the front of the bar. Giggling, she sat down her diamond studded purse and tapped on the bartender's shoulders. 'Makers and soda. Neat! See that grey haired lookin' Grandpa behind me? He's gonna pay for my drink. Watch.' The bartender tended to the confident bubbly figure in front of him -- in an instant. He was trained to be the fastest drink-shaker in all of New Orleans -- her drink was ready before the next Jazz musician even got to clear his throat.
'I like how you play with that fiddle, honey.' Billie tipped the bartender, and reminded him 'Grandpa got me, 'member?' And then she moved through the crowd like a gamer who had played this level over and over again a hundred times, and disappeared into the patio. The bartender signaled over to Grandpa but surprise, surprise: the man didn't rush to open his wallet. He was waiting for his wife to return from the restrooms and did not even chat with any golden haired vixen at any point of the night, let alone agreed to buy anyone a drink. Anyone but his wife of twenty years, that is.
She got me. The bartender shook his head in disbelief. She really got me, that one.
Billie appeared thirty minutes later like a fairy sparkling in a dark forest. 'Makers and soda. Neat please! See that chick by the door with the long braid? It's her treat!' But the bartender was no fool. Once? Maybe. But twice? Nah... He took a step back to get a better view of the door: there was indeed a woman with a braid there, and she was waving to him. 'I'm happy to make you a drink, but see... after the last one? I will need to be paid upfront.' The bartender made a 'I gotta do what I gotta do' type of a gesture, which made Billie flaunt her pouty lips like Lindsey Lohan in her Hey Day, but he was NOT going to be fooled twice no matter how much she'd pout. 'You're no fun. But 'kay. Take my purse! I think it should cover it.' Billie sat down the purse again on the bar. It thumped and nearly rattled the glass of bowl of pretzels. It was heavy, it seemed. 'Ma'am, no need for... a card or cash would do. It's twelve for this one, and the last one... forget about that, all right?' 'I don't have cash or card with me. Take it! I'll come back and we'll trade then, 'kay?' Billie flashed her trillion dollar smile. A smile sometimes stores more power than any words. Reluctantly, but curiously, the bartender followed along, and made the drink. 'Oooohh thank you for the extra bite in there.' Billie sipped and made her way to the door. The bartender watched as Billie conversed with the woman with the braid, making her laugh uncontrollably. Were they laughing at him? He wondered. He then took the purse into his hands. It was heavier than expected. Why do women always carry heavy items with them? He wondered.
An hour passed. And no Billie or a woman with a braid have come along to claim the bag. An hour passed and now it was close to closing. Soon the bartender will have to count the register and tips and close for the night. 'Damn, she was good. She got me that one. She got me good.' The bartender thought to himself. He reached for the bag and figured 'I might as well see what's in there, maybe there is an address I can mail this bag to.'
He opened the bag, and to his surprise - there was something in the bag: A GUN.
In timing straight out of a film noir, the door opened and there walked the grandpa from earlier and the woman with the braid. They came rushing in waving guns in their hands, demanding the bartender give them all the cash from the register. The bartender was fast with his hands, after all - he was the fastest drink-shaker in all of New Orleans - and he now had a gun of his own to tackle these robbers with. He swiftly got hold of the gun from Billie's purse, took a single shot up to the ceiling - a shot that will scare off any invader and notify the crew from the police station next door. Grandpa and the woman with the braid didn't see the gun coming. After all - they scouted the bar all night and a gun was not a part of their plan. Nor the fastest shaker in all of New Orleans. The freaked out and fled the bar.
They made it only as far as the entrance before the were arrested by the cops from the station next door.
The bartender put the gun back in Billie's star studded purse. Who knew that would be far better than any cash or card would. Who knew... Billie. Billie knew.
'Sometimes when angels stop by to protect ya, it may be in unexpected ways.' The bartender thought to himself. And Billie? Billie sent her wink from the heavens. She never did return for that purse. She never did pay for those two drinks. But she played her part like a pro.
"Howdy. Name's Bugsy. Bugsy Steel."
It can't be. Julie thought. Bugsy Steel was the biggest silent film star in Hollywood! Why in the world would he be in my dad's local gas station in the little town of Effrinson in Missouri? Julie stared at Bugsy's moving lips. She stared so much she forget to say her name altogether.
"I didn't mean to... frighten ya, kid."
But Julie wasn't frightened. She was starstruck for the first time in her life, and seeing Bugsy Steel right there in front of her register buying a pack of Chester Fields and some beef jerky was the highlight of her day. The highlight of her year. The highlight of her young eighteen year old life.
"I know, I know. I'm a long way from home."
Bugsy winked at her. And Julie's face became a rather dark shade of tomato. He reads minds. He reads minds! She pulled herself together just like what she learned to do in debate class when her fear of speaking would make her fingers tremble, and in a soft high pitch voice said: "You are Bugsy Steel!"
"Shhh. Don't tell anyone."
Bugsy joked, and pulled a cigarette out of his fresh new pack.
"Got a light?"
Julie looked down at her hands. Uh-oh. They were trembling just like in debate class. Breathe, Julie breathe! She took the lighter and tried to light it up, but her anxiety went so rampant that Bugsy noticed her shaky hands.
"Ya gotta get those fingers checked, kid. Here, gimme."
Bugsy took the lighter, lowered his chin with the cigarette in mouth to light it.
His brow frowned as he inhaled and his lips grinned when the fire beamed out of the lighter and into the cigarette. In that moment Julie knew: she was IN LOVE.
She was in love with a movie star by the name of Bugsy.
In her head, a soft dreamy tune played as she spent the next moment envisioning a lifetime with this man in a true silent film genre: He would bring her flowers, she would blush, the title card would say 'Who, me?' And Bugsy would drop to his knees, and lower his hat down. 'There is no one else but you, my love.' The title card would say.
Julie wasn't the most imaginative when it came to romance.
How would she be? She has never seen a love story in real life. Sure, she had her grandparents, but granny was sick of Grandpa and Grandpa was sick of himself, so love wasn't in abundance between the two of them. And ever since Julie's ma died from that horrible disease, pa had to take care of the shop and didn't have time for any love affairs. And the boys in Effrinson High were as interesting to Julie as a pile of bricks. So to Julie, love only existed in fairytales, or in dreams or in movies. The silent ones that came by the little town of Effrinson. The ones starring the same ole' Bugsy Steel.
Bugsy handed Julie the lighter, and for a brief moment - their fingers touched.
Bugsy's thumb was rough, hardened, warm. Her petite small hand was tingly when she touched his. She felt a rush of warmth right down her body, down her spine and right to her fiery womanhood. Her sexual appetite in those days was just beginning to blossom, to find itself, and a random encounter with a real life movie star was all Julie needed to feel a brief moment of real life pleasure. Wow. She thought to herself. Wow.
"You have a pretty braid, kid. That's a very pretty braid ya got."
Who, me? Julie asked with her eyes. She must have gotten better with her silent communication skills because Bugsy responded timely: "Yes, I'm talkin' 'bout you, kid. I don't see anyone else here." He read my mind AGAIN. Julie's face has turned into a plum now. She shook her head dismissing the compliment, hiding shyly her uncomfortable face. "Forgive me, I been calling ya a kid, but now I see. You're a lady."
Julie perked her head up - Bugsy lowered his hat just like he would in her silent film fantasy. He lowered his hat and uttered the words:
'Have a good day, lady with a pretty braid. Have a good day."
And just like that, Bugsy turned around and opened the door like a movie star would open a tavern's barn door in a western. Julie's eyes followed him out as he entered his black shiny mustang. He drove away just like a movie star would, with fire smoking out of his engine, and a rainbow appearing in the sky. Julie sighed a sigh of relief, of a lived up dream, of a once in a life time unforgettable encounter with a real life movie star. She sighed like a woman after her first pleasure, after her first crush, after her first real love. She sighed like a movie star in a silent film.
The hour was seven thirteen in the morning.
The kind of morning you'd rather sleep in and let pass. You'd open the curtain to see the skies looking faint as the evening before. The kind of morning you'd hit the snooze button oh so many times.
The hour was seven thirteen and the station was packed.
Click-clacking heels and ruckus, wheels turning around, and conductors announcing arrivals and departures. A place of transitions, of movement of constant flow. A place of hellos and a place of goodbyes.
The tracks were glistening through the misty light, and Sarah rubbed her eyes to see more clearly. But she couldn't rub the mist off of the scenery in front of her.
There, through the misty blurry air, her lover James stood holding his carry-on in one hand, and a cup of coffee in the other. James was about to embark on a journey without her. And Sarah couldn't be more prepared.
Sarah loved preparing for monumental events in her life. Her tenth birthday, her graduation, her publishing date for her first books. She was well-versed in preparing for special days, and today was no exception. She wore her favorite pantsuit, and tied a bow in her hair. A bow James used to wear back when he was Lisa; a woman of small figure and intense hunger for knowledge.
Sarah and Lisa met in a conference event in Chicago years before. A decade has passed since then. A decade filled with love, with friendship, with career changes, with moving, grieving, building a life together, with marriage, addiction, rehab, with crisis, and another, and another, with sex change, and realization, and rejuvenation, therapy, and job opportunity overseas, with struggles, and decisions, and finally - with the acceptance that they must go their separate ways. Maybe forever, or maybe only for a year.
Like any other monumental event in her life, Sarah was prepared.
She was prepared for mixed emotions of excitement for James and sadness for herself.
She was prepared to sport her biggest smile yet, and transmute only 'happy thoughts'.
Only happy thoughts on this mixed bag of a day...
But Sarah wasn't prepared for the mist that tickled her forehead, and that made James look so ethereal in front of her, so majestic and lovable. So much like the first day they met, back when they both were other people.
'It's the mist!' Sarah proclaimed when James was giving with his eyes the obvious 'Why are you crying?' look. 'It's just the mist. It's all it is. It's all there is right now.'
James nodded. He too was blaming his tears on the mist. Not on the years of togetherness, and this moment of goodbye. Not on the distance between them that grew wider as the years went by. Not on the other people that have come in the way. Not on the challenges that changed them for the better, and not on the ones that changed them for the worst.
'It was only the mist.'
They both proclaimed, squinting their teary eyes so to not miss a single moment of seeing one another. Two friends together, two friends soon to be apart. Two lovers in marriage, two loves lost in divorce.
A mist passed between the two.
And then the train arrived.
And the Goodbye.
It was the mist. It was all - the mist.
Cecilia was named after the famous Simon & Garfunkel song by the same name.
She hated the song. Nah, like, she HATED it. With a Capital H.
She'd say her name was Jess at bars and Starbucks spots so no one would get the oh-so-original idea to play that song in her honor. Cecilia actually didn't have a problem with Simon & Garfunkel at all - she thought they were dope and she was fond of many of their songs. But if you ask Cecilia - this was their worst song and they should never have ever recorded it if she had her say on the matter.
Strangely enough, Cecilia didn't hate her name. Sure, it had the 'gradma' dated feel of a name that was popular perhaps in the late eighteen century, but she didn't totally hate it. She Just hated the moronic people that always started awfully hum or sing out-of-tune the Cecilia song whenever she introduced herself.
It was the worst first impression anyone could have ever done when meeting Cecilia.
Nonetheless, Jimmy was a sixties-folk kind of dude and he had to, just HAD TO, go into a complete off-beat version of the song when he met Cecilia in a shoe store in Queens, New York. Cecilia rolled her eyes and mumbled 'So original' but he was way too into his terrible singing to even notice. His version turned into a mild hip hop beat for a moment there so Cecilia found herself somewhat amused as she tried on a pairs of brown leather boots. Jimmy finished his performance and actually dared to bow to Cecilia.
Needless to say, he did not get a standing ovation. Nor even a clap from Cecilia. Instead, she half smiled the closed mouth smile she did anytime she met her aunts and uncles every few years, and said "Yeah, thank you. Nice to meet you too."
Jimmy was the fearless type. He was a New Yorker, you see. He grew up with loads of people and have seen all the kinds of guards that people use to protect themselves and to push people away. So he wasn't at all fazed by Cecilia's unenthusiastic response to his Tony deserving showdown. 'She'll warm up to me' He thought to himself and boldly asked Cecilia out:
"I know this awesome steakhouse, on seventh. I know the owner so we can get two for the price of one. You hungry? I mean, you gotta eat, you look to me like you're barely a hundred pounds!"
Cecilia wasn't sure what to response to first:
'This handsome guy may know his way around shoes, but his singing skills are sub-par. He works at a shoe store so a wealthy man he's likely not, and his excitement over two-for-one steak makes that assumption even more likely. And he may have just criticized the way I look with that non-compliment about my weight.'
But while she was figuring all that out in her head, Jimmy has already taken his jacket and was headed to the door. "Don't worry, you can buy the shoes after." He was a New Yorker all right - Always on the GO.
Cecilia felt a punch of hesitation in her guts - After all, she may have been new to New York and all its eccentric types, but she had her share of men that wouldn't take NO as an answer and she knew red flags when she saw them.
Nonetheless, for some odd reason that day, Cecilia found herself walking out the door with a stranger.
To be continued...
I remember nothing. Nothing from that day on the pier.
I stare at the photo of me and my lover, our hair blowing in the wind, smiling from ear to ear, the Mediterranean sea is peaceful behind us and our tan lines are peeking out of our incredibly dated swimsuits. The back of the photo is captioned 'Capri 1981.' I recognize the writing. It is mine. But everything else is beyond a blur. Everything else has simply gone completely out of my mind. As if it was never there.
Where did the years go? Where did my mind go? Where did this ole' lover of mine go?
I check out my old self's physique in the photo. My perky breasts. My smooth skin. My skinny arms. Those all went away somewhere as well. I see hints of them in the mirror, when the shadow of my old self pops for a visit. I turn my glance to look at the bathroom's mirror. Is my old self there? No. She is not there. She is not there at all. Where did she go?
I sink down on my mother's bed. It is soft. Too soft. I've told her to replace that old mattress. I told her her back aches would thank her. She never did. I shake my head in disapproval. But she is not there to hear my critical grunts. She is not there. She is not there at all.
I close my eyes for a moment, with the photo still in my hand.
This is where my mother went to sleep. Every night. Every afternoon at precisely two o'clock. This is where she'd wake up every day and reached for her glass of water on the nightstand. I see there is still water in that glass. There is still water, enough for a sip. One sip for an elderly woman who is not there. She is not there at all.
I feel the green duvet against my nose, and take in a whiff of scent. Grapefruits. It smells like grapefruits. Citrus scents are not my preference, but this one? This one smells nice. It smells like my mother. I take another whiff and notice the floodgates come pouring down. Tears are streaming down my face involuntarily these days. I don't wipe them away. I let them fall where they may. One drop falls down on the photo in my hand. It staines the shoulder of my ole' lover. A shoulder I cried on many nights. And some nights I caressed lovingly. A shoulder I don't know anymore. A slightly freckled shoulder. Or is it a coffee spot I see?
Time blurs and time stains. Time dissolves like a bath bomb in a pool of water. Like salt in a hot oily skillet. Like tea dissolving in boiling water. Like my mind putting together pieces of my past.
I walk out of the room with the photo in my hand. A piece of my past that I'd like to remember. A piece of my past that my mother remembered. A piece of my past that my mother held on to before she left.
'I could really get used to this.'
Cleo thought to herself and added more bubbles to her bath.
The four candles she lit gave the small dark room enough light to read through her words on the page:
I don't love you anymore.
In fact, I never did.
A carrier will come by to take your things in the morning.
They will be delivered to you by nightfall.
She smiled to herself with satisfaction, feeling the pleasure of breaking yet another heart.
It was an art she had perfected over the years.
She signed the letter with a kiss and burned the edges of it just as she did when she was eleven.
'It's romantic.' She thought to herself, just as she did when she was eleven.
Marco was conquest number fifty three, and a solid heartbreak job well done. One of her best works thus far. And her celebration was much deserved. But when it comes to heartbreaks - he was only number fifty two.
There, on the wall of her heart, hung a framed portrait of her first love Samuel. Her only love, perhaps. The one that got away. The one that left her wounded, abandoned, broken hearted.
Fifty two conquests later, and she still was Samuel's at heart.
'Darn him!' She muttered to herself.
See, with every broken heart she was hoping to mend hers, but that was not the case.
She would get instant gratification of course, some pleasure in the reckoning of another's heart, a rewarding feeling of revenge, the sweet taste of surprising an innocent fool. But her heart? Her heart stayed broken. Always broken. Shattered to pieces. She reached to the glass of whiskey by the side of the bath. She knew herself by now and knew: the sorrow was soon to come.
'I must break one hundred hearts. That is how I will mend mine.' Cleo vowed to herself and took a gulp of whiskey. Some said her logic was that of an eleven year old. Stuck in a mindset of a child hurt by their first loss, limited by her vengeful spirit and forever playing games with others' hearts. Her body was of a woman, but her mind and heart were of a child looking to fix what was broken, to no avail. Some felt sorry for her, saw through the charm and underneath the mask. But others were fooled, the fools. She knew how to spot a fool from a mile away. She would giggle and move her hand through her black as night hair and knew if a man was to be a fool worthy of having his heart broken by her. And Marco was a fool like the rest fifty two of them.
'But Samuel, oh Samuel...' She teared up, and rushed to her glass of whiskey, to quickly guard her tears. To clumsily connect the broken pieces of her heart. Pieces that were too fragile to be put together ever again.
'Enough!' She frowned to herself, and wiped her tears away. She got out of the bath and blew out the candles with the rage she was living with since age eleven.
Another conquest. Another broken heart. Another night Cleopatra longed to be eleven again.
The day Rasputin died was a gorgeous day:
Seventy five degrees, light breezy wind, clear skies and even clearer ocean.
The bay was swarming with tourists out to see the seals mating and snap pictures for their Instagram 'stories.' The line outside the famous 'Carly's Clams Cafe' was long and a juggler was passing by the waiting crowds.
Rasputin's mother was in that long line, waiting to order a clam soup. No one made clam soup quite like Carly.
She checked the clock - it was almost noon. She made the calculations in her head and figured she was going to have to leave with the soup in hand by twelve forty to make it back to the hospital before visiting hours were halted for lunch. The juggler came close to her spot in the line. He was doing some stellar work with two apricots and a baseball ball. He hummed as he juggled and lured the crowds to pay for this uninvited performance. Rasputin's mother shooed him to go past her. She was not going to spend a dime more than the five dollars and twenty five cents she held in her fist. Money that was to be used only for Carly's clam soup. That's what Rasputin asked for and she was going to give that to him even if she somehow had to juggle her way to the top of the line.
Of course, Rasputin didn't really ask for a clam soup from the famous 'Carly's Clam Cafe.' Nor would he be able to sip it anyways. How could he, when he was connected to tubes and infusion in his hospital bed and had been in a coma for over seven years?
The day Rasputin died was the day that his mother signed papers; his death allowance; the goodbye papers.
Those papers were waiting for years. Before her husband left her - claiming she was delusional and that their marriage was over the day Rasputin had the accident - he brought up the papers. She refused even to consider it then. 'How dare you abandon a child. OUR child?!' She said, and shamed him unapologetically.
He juggled the papers off to her sister Bettany. Bettany was the big sister and a tough cookie that didn't hear 'no' as an answer, but even she was scolded with a 'How dare you' and a frowning reminder that she 'had no child so how would she know the difficulty of this decision!?'
Bettany juggled the papers over to Rasputin's high-school girlfriend, sheila, who was already married by then. Sheila refused to meet with Rasputin's mother initially - after all, she was 'emotionally expelled from the family a year into the coma', she claimed. And when she finally built the courage to face Rasputin's mother - she couldn't mouth the word 'papers' and left crying back to her husband's arm.
What was it that day, that shifted Rasputin's mother's mind and heart, and held her hand as she signed her name on that seal of a paper?
Was it the juggler, who reminded her of Rasputin with his playful smile and reminded her of herself with his relentless pursuit despite the crowd's disinterest?
Was is the seals, who mated with passion that made her blush, and let go of each other afterwords with such ease, reminding her to let go of what she loved?
Was it the clear sky and even clearer ocean, that brought some clarity to this mother's heart?
Or was it the lady at 'Carly's Clam Cafe' that had to tell Rasputin's mother that the clam soup had left the menu years before? In fact, seven years before?
Whatever it was, Rasputin's mother did not get the clam soup she had planned for, but she did finally make the hardest decision she had ever done: saying goodbye to her only son.
Before going on her way to the hospital for what would be her last visit to her son - she hurried back to the long line, tapped on the juggler's shoulders, and gave him her five dollars and twenty five cents. 'He had earned it' she thought to herself.
He had earned it.
And so did Rasputin.
J.C entertained the old lady a bit. Took glances at the Picasso, Miro, Rodin all spread open on her lap.
The church bells rang and J.C. broke into a laugh:
'What does your god think of this?'
She pointed at a Picasso painting of a naked woman.
'I suppose... well, I suppose that the lord would... say, what do you think of this?
'Yes, you're the artist.'
'I think it's pretty fucking awesome.'
'What's so "awesome" about it?'
'I said FUCKING awesome.'
J.C was quite confused by Mother Rose's poker face. She was used to nuns being horrified by her foul mouth.
Mother Rose pressed on, and even let a little smile show.
'Well, the colors of the background are the same as the colors of the body. It's like her body is part of everything else. The sky behind, the ground below. They're all the same. She is part of everything. And that's pretty fucking awesome.'
Silence. Mother Rose took the book and looked closely at it: it was indeed fucking awesome. And J.C's perception of it was spot on - almost, she dared think - God like.
'My dear, you may keep these books. Consider it a welcome gift to' our school.'
Mother Rose lead the girl to the door and closed the door behind her with a warm 'You're welcome.'
In the corridor, J.C. couldn't move her feet for a moment.
Not only because the weight of the three books in her hands was taking its toll, but also because what has just happened had genuinely surprised her. J.C was used to being in principal's offices, but she never walked out of them with a gift, but rather with a beating, a suspension, or even an expulsion.
'Holy Shit', she mumbled partly to herself, and partly to the heavens.
'Mother Rose is a rebel.' J.C thought to herself.
The next day in the cafeteria, the girls were hovering near the announcement board. There was an announcement, and a few heads were turning, looking towards J.C. in bewilderment.
J.C rushed to look what the fuss was about. Lo and behold - there was going to be an art exhibit, the first in its kind. And the featured artist was no one else but J.C herself. Or as the announcement named her: 'Lick Me'
Mother Rose was standing by from a distance, giving J.C a nod.
'I think I'm going to like it here after all'
J.C thought to herself, and then she took off her leather jacket, sporting her uniform with pride.
J.C. was a rebel.
She wore a leather jacket to school over her school uniform, skipped class to smoke in the yard behind the gymnasium, and drew naked caricatures of the nuns on the bathroom's mirror. She would sign her so called 'art work' as Lick Me.
A rumor began circulating in school that Lick Me was J.C.
After all, she was the only school drop out that came from a trailer trash family and somehow found herself in an all girl catholic school in Connecticut. Of course Lick Me was her. Everyone thought so, and everyone was right.
A rebel isn't always original in her efforts to venture off against the system. In fact, sometimes a rebel would be as predictable as possible in order to be seen. Because what's good about a rebellious act, when no one is there to witness it in disapproval!?
The rumors came all the way to Mother Rose, the principal. After all, the girls adored Mother Rose and told her nearly everything about their lives, including who the trouble maker in school was.
'I thought so.' Mother Rose nodded to Sally and Bette as they whispered the words 'Lick Me is J.C.' with gossipy pleasure. 'Thank you for telling me, now go along dears.' And 'go along' they did.
Mother Rose stood for a moment, wondered how to deal with the troublesome child who called herself 'Lick Me'.
Sister Frank had the task of bringing the child over to Mother Rose's office. She was a young sister. New to the calling, and new to the school, so she took her task very seriously and ran through corridors to fetch the girl. She found J.C in Chemistry class taping pink bubble gum to the insides of a frog's dismembered body.
'Julie Clair Stanton?' Sister Frank said with her most stern sounding voice. A voice she practiced since she heard the news she was accepted as assistant teacher in the all girls school of the Holy son.
J.C. rolled her eyes, picked up the bubble gum from the frog's slimy body, and placed it back in her mouth to chew on. Saying 'Yes, ma'am' with her mouth wide open. Sister Frank's face was struck with disgust.
'Dear... Did you...did you just...'
'Did I just put the gum back in my mouth? Yeah. But it's gross.
'I am sure it is.'
'Yeah 'cause it's got no flavor.'
Sister Frank lead the girl down the corridor. Her steps echoed and J.C mimicked her moves right behind. A rebel must always find ways to rebel. As the two arrived in Mother Rose's office, Sister Frank rushed away as if she was escaping the plague. She was eager to go along with her day and put the uneasy feeling the girl gave her - way behind her. She prayed at night for the girl. And she prayed even more for herself to be courageous with little girls like that.
Arms crossed tightly, J.C sat directly opposite Mother Rose. She was not afraid of eye contact. Nor of her seniors. So she took a good look into the woman's soul. Mother Rose's eyes didn't blink, not even for a moment. It seemed as though she also was not afraid of eye contact. Nor did she seem impressed by the girl's rebellious demeanor.
'It seems you are fond of art, my dear.'
'The mirror in the ladies' room is quite the exhibit.'
After a long moment, Mother Rose rose up and reached to a book shelf, scanning through piles and piles of books. J.C was feeling on top of the world as she made her principal break contact first. She thought to herself and grinned: 'this school is going to be easy.'
Mother Rose presented her with a book. A book with a compilation of marble sculptures at the cover.
'Are you as good as him?'
'You are better than Micuaelangelou, my dear?
Mother Rose handed the book to the girl, raised a brow in surprise and proceeded to scan through the books. She took a few more and one by one, handed them to the girl, flaunting her knowledge of who's who in the art world to J.C, making her uncomfortable....yet also curious.
To be continued...
In April 2020, while experiencing her first ever global pandemic, Tamar Pelzig pledged to write something every day, even if it's only a word, so she welcomed to the world a daily blog to keep her creative writing wheels rolling.
Header Art: Daniel Landerman