Marin Hoelz  is the author of

Beyond the Blue Ridge

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 She [Chlo] expected to end up as a Miss Havisham, the vicious, bitter, jilted old woman of Dickens’ novel. Hitler called unmarried women food wasters: not worth squandering bread and water on. They would have been the next group to be slammed into cattle cars and shipped to the death camps. When people disparaged single women as spinsters, old maids, hags, crones, old bags… she foresaw this as being her irrevocable destiny.

Ruth got up to heat more water for the instant coffee. “When you were a baby both Darcy and Gertrude were...sort of... well... tired of being parents. Gertrude wanted six boys. She wasn’t thrilled with either of us. But Darcy loved me. I was his baby. By the time you came, though. Well. You were my baby. My friends and I would dress you up and take you everywhere. Then when I came to college out here and married, you were alone. You nearly failed second grade. I knew it was my fault.”

“What the f**k is the time?” he said.

“One thirty. Don’t swear. Tammy’s going to pick it up.”

“Good. Then she won’t be shocked when she goes to college.

Ruth knew she led a charmed life. The only dark spot was Chlo, her mother’s most beautiful child, and her mother’s most unfortunate.

White women want liberation
cuze they never done nothin but
sit round while they man bring ‘em jewels
and stuff. They want liberation, they can have it.

 

“Why do they always write these awful things about black people?”

“Yeah, what would any black woman be doing living with a white man?”

“If she goes around with a white man, she’s got what she deserves. What’s the matter with a black man?”

“Why do they always write about black people being immoral?”

“But, but, she’s not immoral. Don’t you see? Baldwin tells about her background; there’s nowhere else she can go. She has no one,” Chlo said, trying to collect her thoughts, not being ready for this. Couldn’t they see her plight?

...What the students were asking for was black Horatio Alger stories. Chlo didn't know of any. No one else, black or white, on the faculty did either.

Rick noticed one young woman sitting more or less by herself looking somewhat stiff. She was nervously fingering the gold chain around her neck. She had reddish blond or brown hair and green eyes. There was a flush on her high cheek bones. He followed the neckline down to the collar bone noticing the hollow between the collar bone and neck. Her dress had a V neckline. The line bulged gracefully at the bust and came in falling flat down to her lap. She was wearing a mini skirt like most of the other women. Her legs were crossed and there was a bulge in the right leg as the left one pressed up on it. Then the calf rounded out firmly and tapered down to the ankle where the hollows around the ankle bone fell casually into the shoe. Rick followed the curve of her foot down to the hollow where the toes began before they were covered by the toe of the shoe.

“My wife wasn’t home. I was babysitting...”

“What do you mean babysitting? You can’t babysit your own child. You take care of your own child, you don’t babysit your own child.”

“That so?” Rick said coming over to the desk leaning on it with both hands. He had wanted her since he first saw her; and all she ever did was fuss about her ridiculous marriage. Now here she was alone in a dark building in the middle of a snowstorm.

“Yeah. And all this time you thought you were babysitting.” Chlo raised her eyebrow as if to chide him. “You probably even put it on your resume.”...

“So, where’s your husband?”

“My soon to be ex-husband is in Puerto Largo.”