Or as we say in my house, Happy Celtic New Year.
I've been on a writing spree since Thursday. I have 8 completed chapters, 80 pages, and 21,206 words. I am thrilled. I had something like 14,000 words on Friday morning. My, how time flies...
I finished some really important plot points, such as the first time Eva meets Brixton:
I noticed him in French class, the next period, when Brixton Davis was placed in front me, according to the rules of alphabetical order. The teacher, Ms. Quinn, went through the alphabet in French and then gave us an assignment.
“I am going to split you up into pairs. I want you to interview each other and then we’ll come together as a class and we will begin to learn some basic phrases, ok?” Ms. Quinn proceeded to split everyone up. Brix and I ended up together.
He turned in his seat, smiled and said, “Hi. I’m Brixton.” His hair was long, flopping over his forehead in bangs, his eyes were hidden behind black-framed glasses, and I’m sure his face had blooming acne.
“I’m Eva. Brixton? Like ‘Guns of Brixton’?”
He nodded. “Yup. Named after a Clash song.”
I quickly wrote that down on a piece of looseleaf. My hair was in a ponytail, tied back with a huge scrunchie. My braces had another six months to go and I hadn’t yet learned the mysterious secrets of makeup, though I admit to never really being fond of the stuff once I learned about it anyway.
And Eva's Confirmation:
“Gram!” I exclaimed. “I found my Confirmation name!”
Glancing up from a simmering pot, Gram turned around, wiped a hand on the cartoonish lobster on her favorite apron, and said, “Let’s hear it, Eva.”
She put on a thoughtful expression. “Dymphna. Tell me about her, Eva.”
“St. Dymphna,” I began, “is an Irish saint. She was a princess. When her mother died, her father tried to marry her and Dymphna ran away with her confessor to Belgium. Her father found her and chopped off her head.” Gram’s eyes bulged for a moment. “She’s a virgin martyr,” I said helpfully. “And the patron saint of mental illness.”
“Hmm. And you feel strongly about this name, Eva?”
“Then you should take it,” Gram said.
Dad looked at me and I swear, his eyes went cold. I wonder if he still sees me as that colicky baby who drove my mother to sleeping pills, which drove her to suicide. Or maybe he looked at me and still saw the spitting image of Evangeline and that made him take pause.
“Yeah, but…” He hesitated. He wanted to ask me why I picked the patron saint of mental illness. “It’s your decision. But I hope you girls don’t think your mom…it was an accident, what happened to her.”
Vic and I stared at him. He turned awkwardly and left. I waited until I heard his footsteps recede down the stairs, then got up, went to Noel’s empty room and found his pack of Marlboros. I opened the window and lit the cigarette, coughing as the tar and nicotine hit my lungs.
After a few moments, I felt calm.
And back in 2009:
He steps away from me, disengaging his long-fingered hand, and undoes the buttons of his chef’s jacket. I see the thin white T-shirt emerge again. My mouth goes dry. I suspect that he’s flexing his arms a little more than he would ever do with me as he slips the jacket off.
Tonight, I think I saw Brixton-as-a-boyfriend, meaning he was solicitous and on some level, trying to impress me, despite the problems that he and Jade seem to have.
But now? Now everything’s uncertain. I thought for sure that I, the mother of his child, one of his oldest friends, would supersede any other woman who happened by in his life. That is awfully arrogant of me.
I catch the red line out of Harvard Square and I think, I only got a week of Brixton-as-a-boyfriend treatment. One week, and I ended up knocked up.
Senior year of high school (1997):
But I only smoked away from the house. It would’ve broken Gram’s nurse’s heart to know I smoked four or five cigs a day, that I went through a pack in little more than five days.
“Hey, what do you think about Tracey?” Lana practically whispered.
“I don’t like her. You know that.”
“Eva, you don’t like people,” Lana said, waving my statement away. “I don’t like the way she’s all over Brixton all the time. You don’t think they’ve…” Her hands twirled in circular gestures.
“Gone to the ballet?” I asked, watching her hands.
She sighed, exasperated. Jeez, it was only a joke. “No. You know. Do you think they have? This summer, anytime I saw them together, she was all over him.”
And once again, 2009:
Am I in a transitional state, between life and death? Maybe I’m like Bruce Willis in The Sixth Sense, dead but not knowing it.
I fight against that thought. I am not dead. I’m merely spiritually confused. Right?
A little girl is running in between the little ducklings. Her back is to me, but I can hear her sweet giggle. I stop. It sounds like Aimee.
“Daddy!” She calls out, running. I want to tell her not to run across concrete—but I can’t. She doesn’t know me now. If anything, that stabs at the heart.
His eyes drop to my coffee. “Since when do you drink coffee?”
“I’m feeling kind of tired,” I explain. “Thought it might help.”
He looks like he wants to say something else, but Aimee is clutching his shoulder. Her big brown eyes—not mine, not his, but my parents’ eye color— fix on me.
“And who’s this big girl?” I ask. Aimee beams.
“This is my daughter, Aimee.” He peers down at her. “Can you say hello, sweetie?”
“Hello,” Aimee says in her tiny voice.
“This is Daddy’s friend Jade.”
Friend. Friend. He just called Jade his friend. Not girlfriend. Friend. Then again, I wouldn’t be too thrilled if he introduced our daughter to a girlfriend. Not that she’d know what the word means, but still…
He bounces her up in his arms. She screeches in laughter. We have a happy daughter, one with a sunny personality, who likes to laugh and dance. I’m not too sure where she gets that from, considering, but I’m glad for it. She must feel so secure clinging to her big, tall Papa.
“She works at a stock photo agency in Paris,” Brix says, accurately describing my job. “She’s also addicted to coffee.” His eyes rest on my half-finished Starbucks. He looks disturbed.
“I haven’t been feeling like myself,” I say in explanation.
His eyes soften. “Yeah, I’ll say.”