“Yes, Daddy,” she said sweetly, the tone rife with sarcasm.
“Damn it, Mae, I mean it!”
“Hold it!” Gillian said loudly. They both looked at her, startled. “I‟d like to answer Mae‟s question,” she said more quietly. “If I could have a minute with her alone, please.”
Marie was only too happy to relinquish her participation in trying to rein in Justin‟s ungrateful
on, Justin,” she said, all but pulling him out of the room with her. Gillian could hear
their whispered but heated discussion as they continued down the hall toward the kitchen.
“You‟re not going to talk me into anything,” Mae said. “I love Carson. I‟m st
aying here. With
“I love Carson! You don‟t know how I feel!”
“No, you don‟t know how
feel. I‟ve been your age—you haven‟t been mine. I don‟t want to talk you into anything. You asked a question. I‟m going to answer it—
speaking only for myself, of
course. I‟m going to tell you what makes me think you‟d go.”
“Things are different now. It‟s not like it was when you were young.”
are different. Not people
“It won‟t do any good! I‟m not going
. I mean it!”
Gillian waited for a moment before she continued, gathering her thoughts, reminding herself not to bring
into the discussion. Mae‟s need to protect him was too strong—
because Marie had come home unexpectedly yesterday and found him and Mae in bed together. Gillian did
n‟t know how far the tryst had gone, and she didn‟t want to. Her goal at the moment was not to make Mae‟s clearly unsuitable relationship with this boy seem any more like “forbidden fruit” than it
already did. She walked over to the mantel, to the silver-framed photograph of Mae when she was in preschool.
“Do you remember when this was taken?” she asked.
Mae stared at her, apparently trying to decide if this was a trick question
or something worse.
“Well, I remember,” Gillian said when she didn‟t answer. “I
t was during the early days of the war between your mother and your dad
before you got used to it. You were old enough to understand something of what was going on, and you were so scared. You and I were sitting at the kitchen table
coloring in one of your coloring books. It was raining outside . .
“Gran, I have things to do. Are we going somewhere with this?” Mae interrupted, her profound
boredom with the topic causing her to look at the ceiling and sigh.
“I guess not,” Gillian said. “I‟ll get back to the question.” She couldn‟t tell if Mae was listening
“Your dad thinks I‟m going to Vietnam to visit one of my old nursing school classmates. Her
law and her daughter live and work in Saigon. He‟s a film producer—
I understand you can make movies very cheaply there. Her daughter runs an art gallery. My classmate
there so she could be close to her grandchildren.”
“Gran, I really don‟t need to know all this.”
“Yes, Mae, you do. It‟s not good to make important decisions without knowing
all the particulars. So. I
going to see her, but that‟s not the real reason I‟m making the trip. I‟m going
because I have something I need to take care of, something I should have dealt with a long time ago.
. . . buried the whole thing and hop
ed it would go away. Sometimes things won‟t stay buried, though, and this pilgrimage, if that‟s what it is, is going to be
. . . hard for me. Emotionally. Actually,
I expect to get my heart ripped out.”
Mae looked at her then. “Why?”