Saturday, January 06, 2007

Lady's Dream: In the Shadows.

Tobias Wolff's work has received much deserved acclaim. His beautiful and carefully crafted short stories leave an enduring impression on all who read them. Lady's Dream, captures a moment in time in the life of young woman who ties her fortunes to a dream of upward mobility, an entirely reasonable aspiration but she chooses the wrong man to whom to tie her fortunes.The decision is fateful, her family sense the mistake and Wolff does not deny the ultimate tragedy of it all. The following is my own addendum.

It's been some time since I seen ma sister. It's not like I don't mind . Back in the day we were tight as could be.

It Hurts me to see her now, tired , in her own world. Sure, she lightens up when I come by but then Robert is never too far way. Robert.......What can I say about that man.

My sister is kind. But me, I call em like I see em. Robert is not too different than that vacuum he's always fussin my sister to use: a huge sucking machine ..Hell! He all but sucked the life right outta her...and try as he might he does the same to just about anyone he meets.

I'm glad we live far enough away so Robert can't always be dropping by. My husband and kids ... yeah they feel the same. I darned near had to force t
hem to come this time:

“oh we have to uncle Robert won't let us do nothing....its too boring”
never you mind.. you're going to see your Aunt Lady aw, rite “
Johny and me had exchanged a look and a smile. We knew the kids had reason but it's not right to be encouraging them to disrespect their elders n all.

Driving up the boulevard lined by tall trees and tall houses still leaves me with a slight pang of envy. I mean my sister's house, it's something to behold.

After his daddy passed all that old money landed in Robert's lap. He was working as an engineer at the time and things were not so bad. But that money brought ruination, I say, cos he just up and quit his job. Momma was still alive at the time . I would hear her fret on how that man would eat her Lady's joy. Sure if her premonition did come true. On account of Robert's nerves they never did have kids.. it's not something that Lady will talk about but I know her ...she's my mommas girl and her heart was meant for laughter.

We pull up the driveway. It's a cool midwinter's day. There's a frost on the lawn and the clouds send a dull shadow across the sky. I see Lady emerge from the house. She looks tired, the shadows under her eyes betray sleepless nights.

Robert is right behind her looking rested and strong but with a nervousness in his eyes that I first saw years ago. That look
in his eyes has never quite left him.
"Great to see you .. you're not staying for long are you ..”
I nudge my husband ever so slightly, at this and he replies
“No Robert we'll be leavin tommora if thats ok with you . I just got the one day offa work so Y'know...I mean if that's ok
At this my sister laughed and said
“ Oh my my ...why of course its ok ...come, come . How have you been”
Robert looked on with the same nervous look in his eye and a forced smile.

Inside the kids watched the TV in the living room and Johny walked out to back yard with Robert leaving me alone with Lady. I had asked Johny to keep Robert company before I arrived. I wanted to talk to Lady alone away from his constant nagging.
“you look tired baby “
I told her.
“Well you know Jo there is always something to do around the house”
and with this she smiled and the creases around her eyes became more pronounced.
“ I get to thinking a lot too Jo. You know bout mama and papa and the old house .. how things used to be. Those were some good times were'nt they Jo.”
“Yeah baby they were indeed. But look at you now girl. Living in a big old house on the rich side of town .”
Lady looked back her sister without a change of expression .
hmm yeah I suppose... but you ever think about mama and what she might be thinking now if she's looking at us now.”
“She'd be proud baby . I know that “
“yeah I suppose you'd be right “
but Jo could tell that her thoughts were trailing off much like her words.

Jo recalled the feelings of regret that her mama had for her sister's marriage. She had seen the rising of status, as folk would call it, as a curse, a penalty exacted on her life. This barter had given her this big empty house and sleepless nights and not much more.

It may have been that Lady shared the same feelings as Jo noticed her eyes well up and she looked away.

No comments: