My head throbs as I come to life. I lay in my cold bed, remembering I am a divorce of a first year. My husband left me for another woman and left our teenage son in my care. ‘Cept he’s run away to live with my perfect sister and I am left in this house our mother gave to me upon her death. Really the only nice thing she’s ever done for me if I recall. That and let Granny Naomi move in with us until her death. She was a former New York Rockette’s and loved to talk about that time, until she slipped and hurt herself. The Rockette’s kicked her out and she did a few French B films, and one American that never went anywhere. But her room is as it was when she was alive. All her pictures of celebrities, all her Hollywood memorabilia. Ma and I fought over that as she wanted the space for her do it yourself sh*t. But I want the room to remain a shrine to Granny Naomi. Even her clothes are still in the closet, complete with shoes. Sometimes when I’m really sad and hating myself I trudge up there put on some f***ing fancy high heels and a slim dress that doesn’t fit me. I sip wine that’s actually vodka in one of her French crystal wine glasses.
I reach for my night stand and my hand finds the pack of ciggs. I pull one out and light it. Ma has told me where my son is and my sister has confirmed it. He’s livin’ the high life with her in their stupid little Southern California town while I’m still stuck in the Midwest. Where my son is, he’s on the beach. I’m f***ing shivering. I place the cigarette in my mouth, light it. The nicotine clears my head somewhat and I sit up. I’m thirty nine. I’m a divorce of not even a year and my good for nothing husband up and left me for some cocktail waitress with a Dolly Parton hair style. My son hates me because we’ve never been good though through the good and bad I love Rex. I mean I named him after my favorite singer and I hoped he would have carried Rex’s talent.
He’s a good lookin’ boy if I say so myself. He’s got his daddy’s brown-gold hair that I used to love to run my fingers into before it got thin. He’s got my cute lil’ upturned nose, my skin tone of winter peach with gold and my emerald green eyes. He’s skinny as a reed so I know the girls all love that. He fits those bell bottoms he wears out every six months or so very good. I wish I’d been a better Mama to him when he was younger but I had to work a six hour shift over at the Decanter, then three hours at the hospital cleanin’ toilets just to make sure he had electricity and everything else. And his Daddy? No good, never was. Had a good factory job the day the town opened up our first sawmill, but then took to the drink.
I mean I drink. Don’t get me wrong. Some days are worse than others. But he goes to the extreme, getting drunk and reliving those glory days of being a high school drama star. Yep. He was in every play. He could dance, sing, move those slender hips. And me I was in the drama class too. That’s where we met. Our gazes locked, held. I knew then that he’d be my husband. And now look where it got me. Shivering I inhale nicotine and then gradually get out of bed. I grab my Princess rotatory phone that the jackass gave me when he realized I knew he was cheating. I love this thing. It’s got the Princess phone but instead of white it’s pink and gold. I touch the pink buttons and ring a number. On the fifth ring my sister picks up.
“Nelson residence!” She greets in a breathless, sophisticated way I can’t mimic. “Belinda speakin’.” There’s still a Midwestern twang in it complete with Southern California sunshine.
I almost speak. The words roll up and out. I hold the phone and my mouth opens, closes. Opens, closes. I squeak and pray she doesn’t hear it.
A pause. Then: “Delilah is that you?” I can see her slim fingers studded with gems of every color on her fingers twist the cord. My sister, always so better than me. A college graduated who hooked herself a television film producer. He’s the brain behind that damn family show, Andersons. A show me and my son used to watch and laugh at. Sometimes that deadbeat of a husband would watch it with us. I suck in some cold Midwestern air and desperately wish I am in Southern California.
“Ma’s gone.” I finally say.
“Yes, yes she is. She’s been gone a year darling.” Belinda says. “Delilah is there anything I can do? Why don’t you come up here to stay with Burt and I? He’s working with Bob Mackie and I know how much you love him. You can come to a lunch and meet him. And...”
“Don’t. I don’t want Rexy hatin’ me anymore than he does.” And I say it. It’s like a pent up, trapped breath of air.
“He doesn’t hate you. Now, he hates Royce but not you. We’re all worried about you Delilah.”
“I” m fine.” I insist.
Belinda clucks her tongue. “Come to California. You can shop with Susan Lucci!” She’s my favorite. Elegant, pristine, perfect. Belinda knows how to sell me.
“Our home.” I say instead, my fingers twirling through the phone cord like I know hers will. “I gotta stay.” Though I am breaking. My sister lucked out with Burt, the television genius. He’s kind and heartwarming and generous. He basks all his love onto Belinda and I know he does with my baby, my Rexy.
“Please. I’m asking you to sell the house to a family who needs it. Your family is here. Ma would have wanted it this way. She never liked Royce but she loved Rexy when he was a baby. She would’ve loved him now.”
I close my eyes, draw in a jagged breath. I let it out, counting to ten. “Will you book me a flight with alcohol? Ya know how the plane makes me nervous.”
I hear Belinda’s excited exclaim. “Of course! And your twin nephews, Greg and Gram want to know you. This is where you belong, Delilah. With us.”
Belong. For the first time I let the word sit on the tip of my tongue. “What about Granny Naomi’s things?” I ask.
“Bring them with you! We have a room that you can have, all to yourself with a walk in closet!” Belinda exclaims. “We have plenty of room.”
And in that instance, it’s decided. I’m leaving this dreary place for a brighter future. “Book the flight sister dear.” I say.
I hang up the phone before I can change my mind.