A Sideways Glare at Contemporary Society
The Ballad of Lisa and Lacey (Part II)
For Part I click here
The next day was easy. There had been a few “what ifs” from the shadows the night before, but with her rent paid, $306.00 in the bank, a credit card (with not that much on it) and bankable parents, Lacey finally went to sleep — with Lisa taking her picture in front of the Eiffel Tower. In the morning, she found her passport (sock drawer) and telephoned Lisa with all the details. They agreed to meet for dinner at Lisa’s hotel. Then she telephoned work and killed off her grandmother (not the live one.) Tony, the assistant manager, who’d “accidently” brushed past her ass more than once, was really totally sorry and offered to talk if she needed to but could only give her a week off — without pay. That didn’t bother Lacey. It was only a part-time job, and she didn’t really like it that much anyway. Besides, she had a feeling Tony would probably re-hire her. Then she went out to the university and borrowed a suitcase from Shannon, who was really totally sorry as well and said she’d cover Lacey’s classes for her — just in case. At some point, she thought about telephoning the parents, but she just wasn’t up for the trial by combat her mother would put her through. And she already had a pretty good idea what kind of mountain of grief they’d give her if this thing went bad. It wasn’t worth it to start the process early. And that was that. It was that simple. By the time Lacey was back in her apartment, looking at the open, empty suitcase, she had disconnected herself. For the next two weeks, she could say and do — and be — whatever she wanted to be, including, as it turned out, Lisa’s daughter.
That’s what they decided to do, at dinner that evening, just in case anyone on the tour asked — and, according to Lisa, somebody was bound to ask. Actually, it wasn’t that big a stretch: the two women had similar colouring and hair, and anyway it was a lot easier to explain than “we met at a coffee shop three days ago.”
They tried it out on the bright smile hotel server when he brought the bill, and he seemed particularly pleased that they’d confided in him — after admitting that he thought they were sisters.
“I don’t have a sister.” Lisa said, after he’d gone.
“Neither do I.”
Lacey laughed, “Brothers?”
“Brother,” Lisa replied.
Lacey held up three fingers.
“All older,” she said.
“Oh, my God,” Lisa said. “I had one and that was bad enough.”
Lacey held up her wine glass and shook her head.
“You don’t wanna know. But here’s a toast to the sisters we never had.”
Their glasses barely touched, and the high-pitched single tink was inaudible — except to the two of them.
“And I want you to know, I promise to be the best daughter you never had.”
Lisa drank at her wine, set it down and smiled.
“I have a daughter, Lace, and a son.”
Lacey held the wine glass to her mouth to conceal her surprise.
“And they aren’t very much younger than you are.”
Lisa waited. Lacey set her glass down. She wasn’t sure what her reaction should be. This changed things. It wasn’t “just us girls” going on an adventure anymore. Lacey knew that Lisa was older but … she had never suspected she was anybody’s mother. Mothers and girls were different. Mothers didn’t get dumped by bastard lovers; they got divorced. Mothers had things, possessions — stuff. Things they had to worry about. Girls worried about whether or not their underwear matched. Mothers had responsibilities. But the big problem was mothers and girls weren’t equals. Lacey picked up her glass again.
“I’m only 37, Lace. I had Ben and Courtney when I was quite young.”
“Where are they?”
Lacey sipped her wine and set it down.
“What? How come — uh?”
“Let me show you.” Lisa picked her telephone out of her handbag. She tapped and swiped a few times and then handed it to Lacey.
“That’s them at the airport when I left on Monday. Ben, Court and Bertram — my husband.” Lisa said, reaching her finger across to point.
“I don’t understand. Who’d you have the fight with here on Tuesday, then?”
“That was something that hasn’t been working out for a couple of years, but neither one of us knew how to end it. So we just conjured up a big fight and now it’s over.”
“So your husband?”
“No. Bert’s safe at home,” Lisa looked at her watch, “Probably just climbing into bed with his receptionist.”
“Oh,” Lacey said with some distaste.
“It’s no sin. What do you think I was doing Monday night? We live in a very small town, Lacey. Everybody knows everybody. I just prefer to keep my marital lapses away from the local rumour mill; that’s all. So every year, rather than have my particulars discussed around the local campfires, I take a business,” Lisa made finger quotes in the air, “trip to Europe.”
“And your husband knows?”
“He knows something.”
“What about the kids?”
From the picture they obviously weren’t children.
“They’re both old enough to hear the gossip,” Lisa shrugged, “That’s why I try to be as discreet as possible.”
“So why drag me along?”
“Spur of the moment. Like I said, we click, you and I. You’re smart, witty. You’re kind. You were kind to me. It feels right, Lace. I can talk to you. I just want to go and have fun for a couple of weeks. A ‘just us girls’ adventure.”
Lacey drank the last of her wine. Oddly, she felt very sophisticated, just then.