Monday, September 24, 2012


Absolution Olive Streeter never could get a good answer out of her mother.

In response to a question about a certain piano piece that Abby just couldn't get right, Mary would spout off about meter and timing and the importance of counting off methodically in one's head while playing--one two three, one two three--in a way that, for Abby, thoroughly eliminated the joy of playing.

And yet when Abby asked why she was given a name that sounded like a daytime soap opera with characters named England and Cashmere, her mother would say, "I'm sure you know it was nothing more than that I liked the sound of it and wrote it down on a piece of paper after you were born. Now try it again from this measure and don't forget to count."

It was obviously no use asking her mother, and the one time Abby asked her father Tom, he'd smiled and said, "Is that really your name? That's awful," and rubbed her head in a way that ruined the perfect part in her hair.

Then, before anyone knew what was happening, her father moved out because they had "grown apart" after seventeen years of marriage, and no one but Abby seemed to think it was odd to say that, since things don't really grow together or apart but up, which left Abby to wonder whether her mother or father was left behind over time, or which of them had separated out like coagulated bits of day's old milk.

This time, when Abby asked her mother a question--why did Dad leave, just walk out the door like that with a bag over his shoulder and his wallet in his mouth while we were watching reruns of Boy Meets World with the sound as loud as it can go and no one even noticed what had happened until Excalibur started barking at the door like he does when something is wrong and I finally looked over at you and you were fast asleep and I had to shake you awake to ask you why why why--her mother said nothing, and Abby's sister Talia looked at Abby like she was the stupidest person on earth and said, "What the hell is wrong with you?" which is exactly what Abby wanted to ask everyone else.