Publication Year: 2009
Published by: University of North Texas Press
Series: Evelyn Oppenheimer Series
I am deeply grateful to my daughter, Melinda A. Roberts of the College of New Jersey, for her sustained encouragement and advice in her fields of philosophy and law. And I especially wish to thank C.W. Smith of Southern Methodist University. His excellent and detailed criticism helped me get Roseborough off high center and into its proper orbit. Bettie Tully, of...
Mary Lou works at the Dairy Queen. Maudie is the manager and she said it was a computer course that made her marketable. She took it on Monday and Wednesday nights at the Lone Oak Community College right here in Lone Oak, Texas. Well, what with Gundren dead and Echo run away, Mary Lou is just about crazy, but the way Maudie talks about college makes it seem like something to hold to. So on...
The days are getting shorter. By the time the class is settled the shadows of twilight fill the halls, but there’s still light enough for Mary Lou to see the glow of Anne’s white dress as she moves, mothlike, from her desk to a film projector, makes adjustments, comes to sit beside Mary Lou in the circle. Then Ed, wearing a “gimme” cap and his fancy boots, arrives. “We gonna sit here in the dark?”
Mary Lou is in the loft of Mr. Roseborough’s barn by six, waiting for Echo. It had taken a week, but after moving around from one spot to another looking for the best place to watch for Echo, she found the right place. The only thing was if Mr. Roseborough had looked out when she was climbing up the ladder to his hayloft, he would have seen her plain as day.
The days passed slowly Mary Lou did not return to class. Anne had not thought that she would. The following Monday she told the class about her encounter with Echo, although she did not mention the terror of her climb to the tree house. “I saw Echo,” she said, telling nothing of the girl’s wild beauty, of her animal grace. “And I talked to her,” she said, hiding the despair she had known when...
Anne draws her routine around her shoulders. Teaching, reading, attending various meetings, she distances herself from Mary Lou’s unsettled world, feeling relieved that she will not be visiting it again. Still, certain words, words like dappled, or myth, or forest, or sounds, like the strum of a guitar, a crow calling, an oak branch blown against the eave of her study,...
Waking up from his nap Mr. Roseborough rolls over and looks out the window. The sun is just about down. Before long the cows will be coming up to feed. They will eat slow and then they will drink long slow drinks of water. Afterward they’ll stand around, shifting their weight and lowing. Mr. Roseborough thinks their eyes are right pretty, like coffee in sunshine.
Mary Lou is on her way back to school, feeling like the school may have disappeared, or may not be like it was. It’s almost Christmas and she’s sure Echo will be home by Christmas. And it is almost the end of the semester, and she wants to be in class one more time, maybe just to tell everybody goodbye. Anne will be glad to see her, but will the class remember her? Will she know what...
It came late. It came after a Christmas that Mary Lou wouldn’t let herself notice. Closing herself off from the garlands and trees and Christmas carols and bells and shoppers, she kept her head down and worked sixty hours a week at the Dairy Queen. She cleaned out closets and rotated the tires on the pickup. She paid off her bills and got her telephone reconnected. And somehow she got through...
Christopher is driving Anne to his house for dinner. He is driving an ‘87 Volvo, a modest car for a former navy lieutenant. Or so Anne thinks. He calls it his pickup. It is mid- August and hot. She feels wrinkled and sweaty in her white linen pants and sleeveless black tee shirt. She will be glad to get inside. Either the car’s air-conditioning is not working well or it is not working at all.
There is not much traffic. But even with the sun visor down there is a harsh glare bouncing off the steely gray of the divided highway. Turning from the glare Mary Lou sees the Herefords, some grazing, some lying down, strung out across the pasture that runs alongside the highway. Shades of soft gold. They are real pretty. She can’t see the windmill, but there would have to be a windmill...
Yellow leaves cling to the elms in Anne’s front yard. In her garden a handful of straggling blooms hang from tattered bushes. Everything around her is dormant, quietly gathering strength. Beneath the day-after-day monotony of the pewter sky, Anne has firmly settled into the changes she has made. Straight teeth no longer matter. She has taken off the rubber bands for comfort. She enthusiastically teaches...
Father d’Acosta is a solitary priest, but not in the way of most priests. In this great old Dallas church his solitude, although at times a hairshirt, is often simply scratchy, slightly heavy. It is a shirt woven of a simple yet fervent need, a single passionate longing. He yearns to be able, in the manner of other priests, to be given God’s grace in order to bestow God’s grace. For is not this the office,...
Miss Weems says Mr. Sam Witherspoon will be coming to pick up Albert, the Boston bull. “Sam will be right for Albert,” she says. “They’re both getting on in years. And Sam’s bound to be lonesome living in that big house all by himself without Martha.” When Mr. Witherspoon arrives Mary Lou sees the match right away. Mr. Witherspoon plods stiffly along with his head down just like Albert.
As the time for Echo’s delivery draws near she no longer appears at breakfast and no longer works in the garden, although she still walks there and, wearing Sister Celeste’s heavy cape against the cold, sits on the bench before Our Lady of Guadeloupe for long periods of time. Seeing her there Father d’Acosta is reminded of a plant in the garden that, when touched, curls its slender leaves in upon...
Tony has come to gather up ladders and gardening tools. He walks around the house examining repaired window frames and a water faucet. Anne writes a check for the last of the repairs. Satisfied with his work, Tony says, “Dr. Hamilton, have you thought about painting your kitchen, maybe just one wall?” “No,” she says. “Maybe a soft red.” “Well, Tony, I’ve never thought of red as being soft.”
Mary Lou stands in the bedroom doorway of Anne’s house. Tony stands behind her, his hand on her shoulder. Arms folded, her forehead creased by a deep frown, she gazes at the blue bundle in the middle of Anne’s bed. Only the baby’s head is visible. The head is covered with a light brown fuzz. Is this Echo’s baby? she wonders. But how could it be? His face is haughtily, disdainfully turned away from...
Although Father d’Acosta is preparing for Roseborough’s baptism, his act of defiance before the bishop continues to nip like a little terrier at his sense of well-being. In fact it had kept him awake last night, and the first thing he remembered this morning was the look of displeasure on the bishop’s face. Placing the white stole over his alb he is still somewhat amazed, for it...