He wouldn’t have loved her whole, but when he became half a man, he loved her wholly, for she was willing to be his more able half.
In the worst of times, she wanted to set their life on fire, drown his sorrows with gasoline or punch hers into confetti, for the entire picture was too painful to take in all at once; in the best of times, she forgot the worst of times.
He took a vow, she took an oath. Though his wife was difficult, & her terminal patients were in pain, they remained steadfast, but when his wife left him & a particular patient passed away, he found refuge in the nurse, & she, as a wife with but 1 patient: her husband.
In the valley of the dollhouses there lay the site of the Calico Critters’ Lumberjack Festival. When the Hopscotch Bunnies decided to participate alongside the Eager Beavers rather than fell trees, they were needed on the roofs to get better reception.
When 10:10 met 8:20, 10:10, an annoying, perky sort, told 8:20 to turn his clock face frown upside down & 8:20, taking his advice, cleaned 10:10’s clock with his longer hand, so that it took a minute rather than an hour, making 8:20 feel like an a.m. rather than a p.m.
Mr. Gherkin always found himself in a pickle, Miss Cherry, a jam, but these 2 accident-prone soul-mates— 1 sweet, 1 sour— had never met until they were joined in sandwich-style matrimony by the pregnant bridezilla.
Mary Katherine McFeeney of Washingham High School, Class of 1988, had been a “Who’s Who?” in her heyday, but Hellen Devlin, the girl who’d watched M.K. since their freshman year— becoming an unofficial M.K.M. scholar & penning the M.K.M. Fictionary— had wondered why & how “the girl most likely to spread more than good cheer” had ever achieved such acclaim, for M.K. had never known what was what but rather, who was on first . . . & second . . . & third, giving the word “Homecoming” a whole ‘nother meaning.
Born a “Children of the Damned” blond, The Girl grew up believing that she became invisible whenever she closed her eyes— only to realize that with invisibility came blindness, but as she grew & her hair darkened, she actually got brighter, that is, until she became nostalgic for her happy-go-bumpy childhood, & she reverted to the bottle, lamenting the dark roots that were just a branch of the Black Irish part of her family tree.
He had a face for radio, she, a voice for print journalism. They were only 10’s, that is, if they were added together, so they married not up but equal to one another— with her writing what he said & him saying what she wrote, they lived fair-to-middlin’ ever after.
Since coming of legal age, she had voted her conscience, though this time, she knew it wasn’t so important that others knew why she voted the way she did, but that she knew why, & she needed to justify to no one of her reasons, which were her own. In remembrance of a life well-lived, she recalled her grandpa’s words when someone had asked who he was voting for, & he had said, without apology & without hesitation, “None of your damn business.” She realized then that just as everyone had a right to their opinion, no one had a right to hers.
When Sticky Fingers Sal & Pickpocket Pearl were strolling out of Curl Up & Dye, Sal, distracted by a Grammar Nazi on strike, slipped & fell into a plot hole. Pearl, always quick with her hands, reached into the man’s pocket & stole the ultimate weapon— his dangling modifier. She held it down for Sal who, even after her rescue, just wouldn’t let go of it.
He was a tautogram, she, an anagram. They were socially-awkward individuals, for he got his tongue all twisted, just as she was all mixed up.
He was White Wine, chilled to perfection; she was Red Wine, perfect as she was. Then along came Pink Champagne, all fancy & bubbly in her flute & saying to Red & White that they were mere lunch & dinner accompaniments, whereas she was the star of holidays & weddings. But then she met Beer, who was enjoyed out of the tap, the bottle, & the can, & she realized that his fans would enjoy him from any vessel.
Late October in the Florida Panhandle was composed of ashen skies, colorless landscapes, & endless gray days. A Christmas without sledding, outdoor ice skating, snow ice cream, & bone-rattling, teeth-chattering cold was “fake Christmas,” according to the Northerners, & Pensacola was the summer place that ceased to exist during the holidays. Our cold was a wet cold that blew through your clothes, penetrating the pores of your skin & scalp so that you wanted to go nowhere, for there was nowhere to go but inside somewhere.
Mother had once planned to wear the golden crucifix she had worn as a child on her wedding day, but she had put it away when she had put away her husband & Catholic faith. That cross with the corpse had meant more to her than her wedding band ever had, but David’s diamond solitaire outshone them both, & in the Church, there was no place for a symbol of death to be worn around one’s neck.
Mother & David had been used to having intimate relations & to put off marriage would be to jeopardize their temple worthiness, for it was hard to go back to holding hands after having had carnal knowledge of one another, so Mother had opted to marry civilly first— to go & sin no more.
Sister Flossie Snodgrass was a childless widow whose husband had been killed after their marriage of one day. He had given her his name for keeps & one night of passion but not a viable child for years & a will to love again. To Mother, Sister Snodgrass’s house was a trailer, but to Sister Snodgrass, it was a motor home, furnished not with vintage-style furniture but with furniture manufactured 30 years ago, where every surface was cluttered up with crafts & a new TV set sat atop an old one.
Sister Snodgrass’s television was on mute as she fitted Mother’s dress with pins sticking out of her mouth, making it look like she had kissed a porcupine. It all seemed a little backward, for I would have thought her generation would be the radio-listening type. When she offered us a lunch of soda crackers & Vienna sausage, we politely declined, for, according to Mother, that was food you fed to beggars, birds & cats.
Logline for Because of Mindy Wiley: An Irish-Catholic girl coming of age in the Deep South during the New Millennium finds her family splintered when two Mormon missionaries come to her door, their presence and promise unearthing long-buried family secrets, which lead to her excommunication and exile.
He was holy water, she, firewater; when he consumed her, he was no longer a man of the cloth but a man without his clothes.
He was the turkey at every Thanksgiving, she, the ham at every Christmas. When they decided to cook up something together, they ended up with a little meatball, full of spice & spunk. The parents still reigned supreme, however, for they could be enjoyed cold as well as hot.
He was nice (but too nice to other men’s wives); she was naughty (but only with her husband). Neither considered themselves above the other, for they were both on very important lists.
She’d graduated without laude but with writing awards, with friendships, experiences, & a confidence she’d lacked before. She learned that it was okay to be an introvert, even as she tried to perform exemplary work to make up for it; she learned that it was okay to be a team player rather than a leader— to follow what worked & fix what didn’t. And, in her new, post-graduate life, she stayed on where she had learned so much, but when her last article for the college newspaper came into print, she experienced a “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” moment. She learned that no one could hold the presses, no matter how much they had or chose to give away, & she was reminded of a wise little girl named Pollyanna who had said that “Nobody could own a church,” for there was no place for censorship at a school where critical thinking was a prerequisite to finishing.
When she’d been LDS— a Molly Mormon on the outside & some kind of nondenominational, free-spirited Christian on the inside— she’d had friends, good & plenty, but when she’d lost her testimony of Joseph Smith & returned to her Protestant roots, she reclaimed her creativity. When she went back to school at a liberal arts college, where she was often the red elephant in a room full of donkeys in varying shades of blue, she realized that the life she was living wasn’t a remake but rather, a sequel.
She didn’t yet have a name, but she had a job— to someday watch over the sister, whom she would never outpace in age, after their parents had returned to Heaven; to watch over the sister who some saw as a cute little dot on a wide spectrum— this blitheful child who wrote in smileys & spoke in echoes & laughed at movement, not jokes, & whose dreamlike gaze noticed the page numbers but not the words. But as the mother looked at her rapidly expanding belly that contained an entire universe of being, she wondered if this unknown quantity would outpace the one outside her body; for every parent’s worry about their child whose needs were different than most was Who will love them when I am gone?