I often walked home from elementary school with a clutch of companions. Close to the block before mine lived a full-lipped girl with steel blue eyes. Eyes like her mother’s. She had a hidden beauty even as a child, coupled with a bold personality which could be a bit off-putting. Occasionally I would be invited into her house, and I remember being awestruck by her mom’s collection of cuckoo clocks cluttering the mustard colored walls of the kitchen. Formica table with tiny pink and green boomerang-shaped imprints. Vinyl-upholstered metal chairs.
Her mother would have been striking, even compelling, except that she was one of these people who seldom smiled, and when she did it looked painful. A grey complexion was masked with pancake makeup and the smell of stale cigarettes emanated from her hairsprayed coif and clothing. I had the impression that she drank a bit as well, and remember a small, well-stocked bar in the dark, perpetually dusky and seldom used living room. Too much furniture. Heavy mahogany dining table and chairs. Crystal decanter, amber liquid. Mirrored serving tray. Her tall father a pale, drawn complement to his wife.
Then my friend’s beloved brother shot himself. He was sixteen. It now seems a blur – the blue-grey smoky living room with curtains never drawn, the sad-eyed mom, the stoic dad, the clocks. The clocks. Cuckoo, cuckoo … the little figures popping out of the tiny doors … cuckoo, cuckoo. Memory is like this – were they always morose, did the brother die before or after this pall cast itself over them, this sad little family …
She marries young to a born-again, her pale blue eyes and rich mouth maturing into a sultry dynamic now in full bloom. I have not seen her in years – surprised at the transformation.
Thirty years later, I speak with a mutual friend who tells me their marriage ended up on the rocks with the ex producing pornographic videos here in Hawaii.