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outlandish as the rubber contraption sounded to me, I neither tried
to picture it or gave it a second's thought. I was relieved. Mary
Beth only wanted to talk.
not as weird as my mother," I said. "Look at how she dresses rags,
since your father left."
I quickly added, "she was never a great dresser." Mary Beth shrugged
and looked back down at the dictionary. "What's the word again?"
I thought to myself. It was her word I'd pitched it to her but I
spelled it anyway. "M-I-S-C-E-L-L-A-N-E-O-U-S."
she left, and before Mother came back with my dinner, I asked myself
why I'd been so alarmed by her question. What was I afraid of? When
Mary Beth asked if I thought Mother was weird, I felt as if I'd
gotten caught cheating.
wore a dress: ink black, three white buttons the size of half-dollars
in the front, low-collared; I had no idea she had it. And a white
wool sweater, buttoned at the neck, somewhat old lady-like, but
from my point of view on stage, it looked like a mantle of soft
flowers over her shoulders. I hadn't seen her before I left the
house. I had to be at the auditorium early, so I went with the Polks.
But there she was, only a few rows in from the front, and if not
for her wide brown face and shining black hair, which was pulled
back clean and tight, she could have been anyone's mother. She seemed
still, quiet, as if she might be uncomfortable; but as the losers
in front of me drifted one by one off the stage, I could see her
more clearly and knew otherwise. Her eyes were only on me.