Five Points, Vol. 5 No. 2Winter 2001
From Gail Godwin, “You have to be very honest with yourself, almost visceral.”
The Rightness of Things
Every time Rachel sees Mary, she is struck by how alike the two of them are—the same strawberry blond hair, the same parade of freckles across their arms and cheeks, even the same old wire-rimmed glasses, round ones that have bent over time and look slightly outdated; people often mistake them for sisters. Chasing Sofia up the steps to Mary’s house, Rachel considers this, the way they seem so alike, so close, but after five years of friendship, Rachel still feels slightly awkward coming here, to Mary’s house.
The house is a large Victorian, perfectly restored. It is a pleasant shade of pink, with a darker pink gingerbread trim. Inside, the rooms are dark and cool, the floors covered with Oriental rugs, the kitchen cupboards filled with the things one accumulates in married life—wedding gift soup tureens and espresso cups and parfait glasses, crystal vases that will be filled on Valentine’s Day and anniversaries, good china.
Perhaps that is what causes the feeling, Rachel thinks. Ever since her divorce three years ago, she and Sofia have lived on the top floor of a three family house in the iffier part of the city. In summer, now, the apartment is too hot and stuffy and Rachel imagines she can smell the remnants of every meal she has ever cooked there. They have no yard. Sofia’s room is too small to contain all the things a five year old needs, so that her dollhouse and play stove and drawing easel crowd the living room and kitchen.
Rachel hears Mary approaching; it always takes her a long time to answer the door. She will have been in the basement folding clothes, or upstairs braiding her daughter’s hair, or elbow deep in bread dough.
“Look at me, Sofia,” Rachel whispers.
Sofia looks up at her with red Kool-Aid rimmed lips. Her sweaty round face, dark eyes, tangled curls, break Rachel’s heart. She finds herself still angry at Peter for doing something as foolish and cliché as falling in love with his assistant. She finds herself angry at herself too. Three years later and she has not found the right job, a better home, a new love.