Wednesday, January 25, 2012

#reading The Sweater Curse chapter 3, page 2

I'm pleased to offer you, page-by-page, the first three chapters of The Sweater Curse--one page every Wednesday

The Sweater Curse

Chapter three, page two

The door opens a crack and a youngish woman fills the gap. "Excuse me, Ms. McNamara. I don't know if you remember me but--"
"Of course, I do. Well, hello...," Mother looks at the woman and beams.
"I was one of your students," the woman supplies. "Joy--"
"Of course, Joyce Givings."
"Of course, Joyce Bridgeweight," Mother says.
"Well, Lam now."
"Class of '99."
"2007," Joyce corrects yet again.
It's clear Mother doesn't remember this woman.
"Yes, of course. Please, do come in." Mother stands, walks to the door, and pushes it open, inviting Joyce to enter.
When Mother peers into the baby carrier, the woman grips firmly in one hand, she sees the treasure Joyce brought her. "Who's this?"
"This is Hannah."
Mother grabs a chubby little hand. "Well, hello, Hannah."
Baby Hannah responds with a yawn. Apparently, Mother's charms do have their limits.
"I named her after you." Joyce beams.
"Well, I'm...I'm honored."
My visit isn't over, Mother slips into the leather driver seat of a red convertible Mustang.
It's a cloudless autumn day; she drives with the top down. Apparently, her environment no longer stinks.
The car turns onto a long driveway. At the end of this tree-lined lane stands an architect's masterpiece. Its flat roof and strange, sharp angles make an artistic statement.
Children play outside on the manicured lawn. There are three boys and four girls, aged from three to seven. The appearance of the car signals the end of their play. All eyes are fixed on her as she parks and vacates the car. They run to her with open arms.

Chapter three, page one

I examine my surroundings and realize I'm in a lecture hall. All the students are draped over their desks. Who has captured their attention?

The lecturer, though aged, I would recognize anywhere, Mother.

Blah, blah, blah. On she drones, but the young minds sucked it up like sweet honey.

Now she's at the bedside of an elderly woman. Starry-eyed, her patient rests easy in her care.

Accompanying her from one adoring patient to another is a small clutch of students. They hang on her every word.

I follow Mother down a long corridor to her sterile office. There waiting for her is a pile of paperwork. She sits and, document after document, attacks the mound.

I didn't notice it before, but there's a ring on her finger. How did I overlook it? The diamond is enormous, I guess she's remarried.

I scan the room and am immediately drawn to a group of photographs decorating a feature wall. There's one of Mother and her latest victim on their wedding day. It's a garden shot. The ancient bride and groom have turned to face each other. He towers over her. They look like a couple of freaks. I wonder if it's a show for the camera, or if they truly mean all they are saying with their eyes.

The other pictures feature three women as they graduate from university and then marry. The final photo is larger than the rest and includes the entire family. The subjects range in age from three to seventy. Everyone is carefully arranged on a large wooden deck of a summer cabin. Front and center is Mother and the poor old guy. Clearly, Mother is now reaping the benefit of another mother's devotion.

Someone knocks.

"Yes," Mother calls without looking up from her paperwork.
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