(Character directory at end of post)
I've used this quote before, but I may need to plaster it on my forehead, except I wouldn't see it there. But here it is again: “In fact, not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die.” Anne Lamott, Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith (1999)
So I received a text yesterday from "the other woman" (otherwise known to me as "stupid Karen"). The first communique ever since she, a former friend of mine, helped herself to my husband. It said, "Of course Pearl will have her medicine with her." Like we were in the middle of an ongoing and surprisingly friendly chat. Or, more realistically, like she was taking dictation while Dennis drove, although that would be strange since Dennis never relays any info to me unless me receiving the information somehow makes his life immediately easier.
What?! What medicine? No one told me she needed medicine! During the time the kids were with me, I informed their dad of everything: school events, sports and game schedules, sniffles, insomnia, you name it. I am sure from his perspective this was either expected or considered to be TMI. Whatever the case, I tried to keep him in the loop for normal, run-of-the-mill kid stuff.
Since the kids have been with him? Black hole of information. As such, this was the first I'd heard of the need for medication. My head was going in so many directions and thinking of so many responses:
Response 1: Is Pearl okay?!
Response 2: What happened?! Why does she need medicine?
Response 3: What did the doctor say?
Response 4: For the love of God, why didn’t anybody freakin’ tell me something was wrong enough to need medicine?!!! I am, after all, her MOTHER.
Response 5: F____ You! Seriously! I mean, who does a thing like that, hooking up with a friend's husband? (But this is going off track... This shit's in the past. But I've never had a chance to say that to her...)
Response 6: Do you feel good about yourself when you look in the mirror? (of course, this is a stupid question because I know she feels GREAT about herself when she looks in the mirror. Her ex-husband confided in me once that she never questions her own actions. She never looks back, never says sorry. If she does something, then it's "right." Is there a lesson in there for all of us? Should we all emulate her? Or, rather, should she be strung up and forced to hear me and her ex talk about what she did to our lives and the lives of the combined children until we exhaust ourselves?)
Response 7: How could you look me in the eye day after day and be doing what you were doing, which happened to be my husband?
In the end, I went with Response #1 and left it at that. If the Universe does hand out big, karmic brownie points for taking the high road sometimes, I’m hoping I have at least a little karmic savings account going, cause I have been forced to put up with some major shit from my ex and friends alike.
Phoebe runs with the wolves down to the waterline, leading them away from Julian's house and Julian, who the dogs distinctly loathe. She turns and they run in the shallow surf toward the less populated end of the beach island. The moonlight sparkles on the water and lights their path.
Phoebe (softly to herself): I hope you aren't thinking there's food at the end of the trail because my pockets are not filled with kibble, or...(she glances and the horse-sized dogs running around her)... whatever it is you guys eat. What DO you eat? (It occurs to Phoebe she could be the meal at the end of the road. Maybe they tricked her into thinking they like her when really they are leading her to a giant plate somewhere.)
They run all the way to the inlet and Phoebe wonders how she ran so fast and so far. She's not much of a runner, really. Or never thought she was, yet... Phoebe stops and looks back at the pier in the distance. That must be 3 miles, yet it feels like she's been running maybe 10 minutes. How could that be? She's barely broken a sweat and she definitely isn't tired. The only thing that stops her running is the imminent lack of beach due to the inlet and also the fact that she really isn't sure if it's a great idea to get too far afield with these creatures.
Sure, they act like overgrown puppies, but, to be honest, they look like monsters. The fangs that protrude from their mouths are about the length of her fingers. The largest beast, the one who leads the pack and who flanks Phoebe most closely, gives off a heat that might fry an egg. And his breath, well, let's just say it isn't puppy breath. There is a dead animal aroma that seems to emanate from his mouth. Or she assumes it is a he due to his size.
Phoebe (to the "dogs"): Okay! That's it for me. I think (Phoebe walks backward while she talks, making her way through the pack) I think I'll just, you know....head home now... (She smiles and waves, and feels like an idiot).
The beasts, moving in unison, turn to face her. The large one lifts his head and howls and the rest follow suit. It's ear-splitting. Phoebe has to cover her ears, her smile pasted on her face out of sheer terror. In addition to doing possible permanent damage to her eardrums the sound they make chills her to the bone. What are these things? Seriously. They joke about werewolves. But is that what they are? Are werewolves real? Why on earth had she thought they were cute? What kind of idiot does that make her? Can they turn her into one if they bite her? She wants to turn and run like mad for shelter. Any shelter. But, she instinctively understands that dogs, no matter how small or large and gruesome, like a good chase. If she runs, they are likely to run after her and she might just lead them straight back to Julian's.
A glow from her pocket surprises her. Her wand. It seems to want her attention.
Phoebe (to her wand): Yes?
The wand floats up to hover in front of her face. Behind it, she sees the light from the wand glint off the red eyes of the werewolves. The wand shakes like it's saying, "Helloooooo."
Phoebe (to the wand): Oh. You want me to do something with you?
If a wand could put its hands on its hips and roll its eyes, that is what it looked like.
Phoebe takes the wand and thinks. What could she do to improve this situation? Reviewing what she knows about her "powers" she comes up short. The only thing she has managed to do so far was make a wind storm and turn her attorney into a donkey.
Phoebe (to herself): If I picture something...
Phoebe grips the wand and pictures herself flying about 30 feet off the ground back to Julian's house. Hell, it was worth trying. She'd caught glimpses of the small fairies flying. She knew that at times wings had unfurled from somewhere near her shoulder blades. Only she hadn't made that happen. Maude and Irving, her guardian angels had done that. She closes her eyes and focuses hard on a vision of her lifting into the air. And, maybe it is her imagination, but it feels like her feet leave the ground, like maybe she is floating an inch off the sand. Scared to open her eyes for a variety of reasons that were mostly furry and fang-y, Phoebe keeps her focus on a vision of herself flying up in the air, out of reach of the giant dogs, over the dunes to Julian's patio. She continues to feel like her feet are possibly floating a few inches off the sand and...maybe the wind is teasing at her hair a little? But, of course, the wind at the beach can do that if one stands stock still with both feet buried in the sand. She opens one eye.
She is more than a couple of inches from the sand. She opens both eyes and looks down, where the pack of werewolves gazes quizzically up at her as she hovers some 20-30 feet over them. Maybe higher. Carefully, she turns her head to find Julian's house, or the general vicinity of his house since she'd run so far. Her body turns with her and, she isn't sure if the wings are there or if the wand is doing the work, but she points the wand toward the light she thinks might be Julian's and feels herself moving forward! Can this be?
Scared to look back to see what the dogs are doing, Phoebe feels the wind lift her hair and pull at her clothes as she flies (is she really doing this?) closer and closer to the porch light she is sure is Julian's. In the moonlight she can make out the shape of that silly turret. I mean, who puts a turret on a beach house?
As she approaches, she can see a pale face looking up at her. It is Julian! He must be able to see her. Phoebe wonders what she looks like from down there.
After they kiss for a while on the patio. After Phoebe feels she better go before something more happens, Julian clears his throat.
Phoebe: You're right. It's late. I should go.
Julian: That wasn't what I was going to...
Phoebe: Thank you for helping with Chip.
Julian: You're wel....
Phoebe: I mean, why aren't you phased when I fly down to your porch after running away with a pack of what could very well be werewolves? You never seem surprised.
Phoebe: Don't you think it's all very strange?
Julian: The thing is...
Phoebe: If I were you, I'd be running fast in the opposite direction. Seriously. Doesn't it freak you out?
Julian: There's something I've been meaning to tell you....about me.
Phoebe: Oh. Sure...hang on.
Phoebe fishes in her pocket and pulls out her cellphone, which is buzzing. She makes a face.
Julian: Is something wrong?
Phoebe: It's from her. From the woman who, well she was my friend, really. Notice how I say "was?" She was my friend. Now she's living with my husband...with my children. It's like she became me. I wonder if that's what she wanted...
Julian: I'm sorry.
Phoebe looks up from the phone and smiles at Julian.
Phoebe: Thanks for saying it. It's just that... (Phoebe stares at the phone again) She's never texted me before.
Julian: What does she say on this important occasion?
Phoebe: It's odd. You know my daughter is coming tomorrow and Karen, that's the she-devil friend, says, "Of course Pearl will have her medicine with her."
Julian looks blank.
Phoebe (suddenly anguished): I didn't know Pearl was sick. Nobody told me!
Phoebe's face crumples and she hides behind her hands. She cries silently and tries to recover herself. When she puts her hands down and wipes her eyes, Julian is standing right where he was. Somehow it is perfect that he hasn't rushed over and tried to hug her or something, which might have felt claustrophobic, she isn't sure. But he has his full attention on her. Those eyes. They are so intense. And he doesn't say anything, but that is okay. He is right there with her. She feels it.
Phoebe: I really better go. Big day tomorrow. Need to straighten. Got a gallery to run, etc.
Phoebe moves toward the walkway to the front drive.
Julian: I can drive you.
Phoebe: No. Thank you, but...I think the short drive will do me some good. I want to find out more about Pearl but I'm sorely tempted to send back a screaming text in all caps. I know it's not right, but I feel a strong urge and the drive might clear my head.
Julian: Okay. If you're sure. Will you text me when you get home?
Phoebe (clearly touched that he would ask this): Sure.
Phoebe pulls into her garage and goes into her house. She flicks on the lights and screams, while reaching for her wand (say! she was getting good at that! it was becoming a reflex)
Phoebe: What are you doing here?
Giant white rabbit (she's met him before. he is sitting in her favorite chair by the fireplace): I'm here (the rabbit clicks his large front teeth and twitches its nose) to help you decide what to text Stupid Karen.
Phoebe, who had been about to zap the rabbit with her wand, softens when the rabbit calls Stupid Karen the same thing she calls Stupid Karen.
Phoebe (hesitant to enter the living room): That's nice, but why? (She likes that he calls her Stupid Karen but maybe Phoebe should keep the wand handy just in case)
White Rabbit: I'm your wiser self, that's why. You need me.
Phoebe (looks irritated): My what!? You have got to be kidding me. I don't know what you are, but you are most definitely not my wiser self. My wiser self would not show up as a giant white rabbit. That's just...just...
White Rabbit: Idiotic?
White Rabbit: What do you plan to do, I mean say?
Phoebe (flops down onto couch and hugs a pillow): I don't know. I think it's fair to call her a slut, don't you?
The rabbit shrugs and picks a piece of lint off its knee.
Phoebe: No? It's kind of true, don't you think?
The rabbit stares at the carpet.
Phoebe's phone buzzes and she looks at it. She smiles and types something.
Phoebe (smiling to rabbit): He wants to know if I got home safely.
The rabbit looks bored.
Phoebe: Oh fine. So, anyway, I think if I start with, "Thank you" and then add "you fat cow-bitch," I would just feel better, you know?
White Rabbit (coughs politely): You could.
Phoebe: Clearly, you don't approve.
White Rabbit: Does it matter if I approve?
Phoebe: You're the one who said you wanted to help. Sort of seems like your opinion is supposed to matter. At least you think it does.
White Rabbit: I do not.
Phoebe (sighs in exasperation): What if I say "Thank you" and then "Why the fuck didn't anyone tell me she was sick enough to need medicine, you nymphomaniac troll?"
The rabbit yawns.
Phoebe: Honestly, do you call this helping, because I have no idea what you're thinking here.
White Rabbit: Don't you?
Phoebe: You think I should leave off the nymphomaniac troll part.
White Rabbit: And should you?
Phoebe (makes a sound of frustration): Apparently!!!! But am I not allowed to wonder aloud via text why no one saw fit to inform me that a child of mine was sick? Seriously!!!! I am her mother.
White Rabbit: She has told you now.
Phoebe: You call that "telling?" I know nothing except that Pearl is bringing some kind of medicine with her. I don't even know why!
White Rabbit: Ask her.
Phoebe: Just like that?
The rabbit shrugs.
Phoebe types something into her phone and waits. She frowns.
Phoebe: So, you might like to know that I typed a simple, "Why does she need medicine?" Am I allowed that much?
The rabbit stares at the carpet again.
Phoebe: Well, I think that's a perfectly normal question and I want to know, so there.
The phone buzzes. Phoebe reads the text.
Phoebe: Pneumonia!? My baby has pneumonia and this is the first anyone has thought to tell me!
The rabbit seems to be asleep.
Phoebe: Hey! Hello over there. You offered to help here and I am talking.
White Rabbit: You were saying?
Phoebe: I was saying that Pearl has pneumonia and that this is the first I've heard of it and this is a perfect time to text Dennis that this is just typical. That he shuts me out of important information about the children on purpose. He seems to enjoy it! As for her. I don't even know what to say next.
White Rabbit: When is the last time you called Pearl?
White Rabbit: You heard me.
Phoebe: Well (Phoebe counts her fingers) let's see. Of course, I knew she was visiting this week so I ... (Phoebe looks crestfallen). I think it was four days ago. You think I'm a bad mother. That I deserve this.
White Rabbit: I said no such thing. I merely asked the question because it seemed logical.
Phoebe (slumps down further into the couch): I'm a bad mother. I can't believe it's been four days since I've talked to my baby. This is what happens when they aren't right here with me! The days just...go...
Phoebe stares at the carpet. The rabbit stands as though to leave.
Phoebe: Where are you going?! I don't know what to say next!
White Rabbit: What do you need to know?
Phoebe: Well, I need to know when she got sick, does she have a fever, how is her appetite, how and when to administer the medicine, does she need medical follow up while she's here, can she go out and do stuff or is she needing more rest, and....
White Rabbit: Ask what the doctor said.
Phoebe (brightens): Oh! (she types into her phone) There! Now what?
Phoebe looks up but the rabbit is gone. When she looks at the phone, it says, "I'm sorry you have to learn about it this way."
Phoebe (at the phone): Don't do that. Don't pretend that you care, you enormous cow-slut!!!! (then softly to herself) I can't take your pitty. I just can't.
Balthasar—one of the little fairies.
Briggs—Phoebe’s oldest child. A son.
Chelsea—Phoebe’s middle child.
Chip—Phoebe’s divorce attorney.
Cindy—The wife of a murdered man.
Claudius (Uncle Claudius)—Phoebe’s guardian (her parents died when she was young).
Clementine—one of the little fairies.
Cooper—Phoebe’s friend. He owns a hardware store.
Dixie Special—a murder victim.
Eileen—Phoebe’s house benefactor.
Ernesto—Ernesto was hired by Eileen, Phoebe’s house benefactor. He’s an alien. Like from “up there” kind of alien.
Errol—Animal Control in Wrightsville Beach.
Fred—Animal Control in Wrightsville Beach.
Glade—One of the little fairies.
Gus—the leader of the little fairies.
Hilton—the brother of Chip, Phoebe’s attorney.
Irving—One of Phoebe’s guardian angels.
Julian—Phoebe’s love interest.
Karen--The Other Woman. The neighbor and friend of Phoebe who had an affair with Phoebe's husband and who lives with him.
Liliana--Phoebe's great-great grandmother, who was a very powerful and legendary fairy who went dark
Lucy—Phoebe’s friend. She owns a bookstore.
Maude—One of Phoebe’s guardian angels.
Mrs. McGillicutty—Phoebe’s nanny when she was a child
Pearl—Phoebe’s youngest child.
Phoebe Quest—A divorced mom who has hit rock bottom in a messy divorce and who is slowly rebuilding her life in a new location after her ex takes custody of her children. Added to her struggle is coming to grips with the news that she is, indeed, a fairy and, as such, has some sort of mission to help the world.
Sheila Gantree—Phoebe’s business landlord. Sheila is also mayor.
Thor—an angry fairy from a faction called The Extremists—he runs a surf shop.
Uncle Claudius—Phoebe’s guardian (her parents died when she was young).
White Rabbit—Phoebe’s annoying conscience.