Shame is the haunting that’s hardest to scrub away.
The new arrivals drive Priuses and can be seen running fast back and forth, up and down the street carrying hand weights.
An old musician neighbor of mine yells out her window at them, “You can relax! You’ve already made it to the top!”
But they don’t seem to hear her.
I imagined my Gammie on the other end of the phone, her grey hair piled into a bun, a red silk scarf tied around it, her red-manicured nails clutching a Vodka tonic. Her skin was slightly darker than the rest of the women in our family, so she always joked about the milkman. “I can’t stand it,” she sighed now. “I’m the last Democrat in Orange County.”
I held the receiver away from my mouth so my Gammie wouldn’t hear the inhale and exhale of my cigarette.
“Darling,” she said. “You’re doing a marvelous job–as well as anyone could do–but children need fathers, don’t you agree?”