Hello! I am going to Malta this week, so there will be no posts. I hope to come back invigorated and rededicated to blogging after a week of sun, good eating, and relaxation (I hope!), so see you then.
Hello! I am going to Malta this week, so there will be no posts. I hope to come back invigorated and rededicated to blogging after a week of sun, good eating, and relaxation (I hope!), so see you then.
“I’ll be right there.” Another one? Who could it be this time? I went downstairs and peeked outside, seeing a delivery guy with a bouquet of fiery orange and red roses. The colors of the roses were so pure, they almost hurt my eyes.
“Here you go,” the delivery guy said, thrusting the enormous bouquet into my waiting arms. I rushed upstairs, eager to find out who’d sent me such a beautiful arrangement. I hunted for the card before finally finding it. In beautiful penmanship, someone had inscribed, ‘Margaret Marilyn, you are mine. Morningstar.’ They were from Lucifer! I should throw them away. They were, without a doubt, the most breathtaking roses I’d ever seen, and I didn’t even care for roses. I walked slowly into the kitchen trying to decide what to do. In the end, I rationalized that it couldn’t hurt to keep them. They would die in a few days, anyway, wouldn’t they? Suddenly, I wasn’t sure they were real flowers. I mean, Lucifer could have had them specially made if he wanted. I arranged them, anyway, and brought them into the living room where I set the vase besides the orchids from Alan. The two bouquets looked great side-by-side; I could get used to being treated like a queen. Too bad neither bunch was from the guy I was actually trying to date.
I needed to do something about Lucifer. He was stepping up his campaign, and I wasn’t sure how long I’d be able to hold out against him. I called Wind who answered on the third ring. Seems I had disturbed her during her meditation time for which I profusely apologized. When I explained what I wanted, however, she agreed to come over and see what she could do. She didn’t sound as confident as I would have liked given that Li Ling had practically promised that Wind could take care of the problem, but I let it go. I thought about calling my mother again, but I resisted. She had to make the first overture. I flicked on the television to watch something until Wind came. It was a welcome respite from thinking. I was so engrossed in the Iron Chefs that the buzzer startled me when it sounded forty-five minutes later.
“Wind?” I asked before buzzing her up. I hugged her gratefully after she breezed into my apartment. She was in a simple gauzy skirt and t-shirt, no accessories or makeup.
“Time for the big guns, I guess,” Wind said briskly, lugging her over-sized bag inside. She stopped as she noticed the flowers on my coffee table. “Please tell me those are from Ted because you had a really great date.”
“We did have a great date,” I said, motioning her in. “However, the orchids are from Alan and the roses are from….” I hesitated because I knew how she felt about me consorting with the devil. “Lucifer.”
“The devil? He sent you flowers?” Wind shrieked, causing me to wince. I had sensitive ears, and she had a booming voice when she so chose. “You have to get rid of them.” Before I could stop her, she grabbed the flowers, strode over to the window and flung them out.
“Hey! What did you do that for?” I protested, rushing over to the window. There were my beautiful roses, lying on the ground. Before anybody could step on them, however, they slowly started rising in the air until they were right outside my window. The funny thing was that nobody paid the slightest attention to the floating flowers.
“Don’t touch those,” Wind shouted, struggling to get me away from the window. “What good will it do for me to seal the portal if you allow those roses in your apartment?” I must have looked confused because she expanded. “As long as you keep something of the devil’s in your apartment, he will always be afforded access. You must cleanse your apartment from his presence, down to the last flower.” She was so engrossed in her lecturing, she didn’t notice the roses tossing themselves through my window and back into their vase. When she saw them sitting as pretty as you please on the coffee table, she made a sound of disgust in the back of her throat. “It appears that you have to throw them out if we want to be rid of them for good.” But did I?
I settled back to watch the movie, enjoying being with ‘my people’. Oh, I knew that was more fantasy than reality, but it was nice to be surrounded by Asians. Even better, people had no compunctions about yelling things at the screen, so it was more of an interactive experience than if we’d gone to an American cinema. I booed lustily every time a bad guy came on screen, and I whistled with enthusiasm for my girl, Michelle Yeoh. When Donnie Yen tried to put the moves on her after realizing who she was, well, I almost lost it then and there. The two of them were favorites of mine, and so damned good-looking. The only thing that would make it even better would be if Tony Leung Chiu Wai were in the movie as well. Maggie Cheung, too. Oh, and Jet Li, of course. That would be a dream come true.
“Wow, she’s really good,” Ted commented, whistling through his fingers as Michelle executed yet another complicated maneuver. We enjoyed the rest of the movie in a very vocal manner.
“What’s the second movie?” I asked, stretching at the end of the first. I was fading slightly, but I knew I’d perk up for something good.
“Irma Vep,” Ted said, glancing at the paper in his hand. It was a poster for the evening, but I didn’t know where he had gotten it. “Maggie Cheung is hot in black leather.”
“Yeah, but I don’t like the flashing lights.” I shrugged. “It’s up to you. We have to at least go to the concessions so Tamara can make her move.” Ted laughed and playfully socked me in the arm. We grabbed our jackets from our seats so they wouldn’t be stolen. Ted grabbed my hand and marched me into the lobby. I saw the two girls who’d been dissing me in the bathroom standing in line for popcorn. I nudged Ted in the side and nodded at the girls. He hesitated before taking me over to the line and standing a few people behind them. He radiated so much personality, I was surprised the people in front of him didn’t get singed. He pulled me closer to him as the two girls turned; I was meanly glad to see the expression on their faces when he draped his arm around my shoulders. I snuggled against his chest, tilting my head up so I could look seductively at him. That was enough to spur Tamara to walk over to us.
“Teddy! It’s so good to see you!” Tamara squealed, nudging me out of the way. Even though she was ninety-five pounds soaking wet, she packed a mean elbow. I moved to the side so I could enjoy the show. The other girl was watching, too, as well as a half dozen other people. Tamara raised on her tiptoes so she could plant a wet one on Ted’s lips. He pulled back quickly, smiling down as he did. I stifled a laugh at the sight of red lipstick smeared across his lips. “Oops, I marked you.” Tamara used her finger to rub sensuously against Ted’s lips. By the looks of the erection building in his pants, he wasn’t totally adverse to her charms. Like a snake honed in on its prey, Tamara noticed Ted’s reaction as well.
“Tamara. It’s been a while.” Ted held his arms slightly in front of his body to protect himself from Tamara’s advances. I suppose if I were a good person, I would extricate him from the situation. However, I was enjoying myself much too much to do that, so I watched Ted suffer without doing a damn thing. “This is my date, Margaret Wang. Margaret, this is Tamara Huang. Her friend is Natalie Wu.” Two more big-shot families in the Taiwanese community. Big fucking deal.
“Wang? Are you related to Andrew Wang?” Tamara asked sweetly, knowing full well I wasn’t. Andrew Wang was perhaps the most well-known business man in the Taiwanese community, and I was sure Tamara knew his family history by heart.
“Nope,” I said cheerfully. “I am related to Peter Wang, however. Does that count?” Tamara’s mouth dropped open at the name of a notorious criminal in Taiwan. He was on their top ten most wanted list and had been for fifteen years. He was well on his way to becoming an urban legend over there. “He’s a second cousin once removed or something like that.”
“Oh, how interesting.” Tamara looked as if she wanted to say something far less banal, but good breeding stopped her. Of course, she hadn’t display the same taste in the restroom, but she hadn’t realized I was there, either. She turned back to Ted, subtly blocking me from Ted’s view. To her shock and my amusement, Ted reached around her and pulled me to him. I didn’t mind, and it gave me the opportunity to show Tamara my pearly whites.
“Have you seen Lucinda lately?” Natalie blurted out, earning a dirty look from Tamara. I understood Tamara’s frustration as it was hard to work somebody over if he were distracted by the name of his former fiancée.
“Nope, not for a while,” Ted said easily, placing his hand on the small of my back. He began caressing the skin there, much to the discomfort of Tamara and Natalie. I, however, was becoming turned on. “Except when I go to my parents’ church, obviously.”
“She misses you a lot,” Natalie continued, seemingly oblivious to the growing ire of the alpha female named Tamara. I might have to reassess my conclusion that Natalie was the follower because she was sure stomping on Tamara’s toes. Maybe she was a loyal toady of Lucinda’s and was only hanging out with Tamara because Lucinda wasn’t available. This was better than any Chinese soap opera, and I didn’t even have to pay to watch it. I waited to hear what Natalie would say next. “She cries about you all the time, you know. She’s even seeing a therapist to understand why she messed up so badly when she was with you. She’s really trying, Teddy.”
“I’m glad for her,” Ted said politely. He turned to me and said, “Margaret, do you mind if we skip the second movie? I have the sudden urge to blow this joint.”
“Girl, what are you wearing to dinner with Ted?” It was Ned on the horn, of course, as I drove home from work. “It better be something fierce. He’s a great catch, and I just wished he swung my way.”
“I’m glad he doesn’t,” I retorted, executing a quick lane change to avoid a yahoo who didn’t seem to know you’re supposed to signal, look, then change lanes in that order. I was using my Bluetooth so I didn’t feel guilty about talking while driving. I just wished other idiots would catch a clue and do the same. Most people were horrible drivers when they had both hands on the wheel. Divide their attention by making them hold onto a phone with one hand, and it was a disaster waiting to happen. “I was thinking of wearing jeans and a t-shirt.” I wasn’t, of course, but I wanted to tweak Ned for having so little faith in me. Just because he was a fashionista didn’t mean that I was some slouch when it came to dressing myself. I knew what colors and lines looked good on me, and I wasn’t afraid to flaunt what I had.
“You wouldn’t! You couldn’t! He’ll take one look at you and run,” Ned moaned, proving once again that he was the drama queen in our relationship.
“Shouldn’t he like me for who I am?” I asked innocently, wanting to see how far I could push Ned.
“Only after he gets to know you,” Ned shrieked, causing me to flinch. Luckily, I wasn’t in the middle of a tricky maneuver, or I’d be in trouble. “Until then, you have to put your best foot forward.”
“Relax,” I said mildly, approaching my apartment building. As usual, I had to look for a place to park as both sides of the street were filled with cars. “I clean up good when I want, and I definitely want.”
“Call me when you get home.” It was an order, not a request, and I decided I better fulfill it this time. I clicked off the phone as I swung into a spot right in front of my apartment. Talk about your karma. God must be looking out for me.
“That was a joke,” I said out loud, not wanting another visit from the Almighty. “In fact, can you not show up tonight at all?” I didn’t think He would as He rarely showed Himself in front of others, but it wouldn’t hurt to ask.
“No problem!” A voice boomed as I unlocked my door. “I wouldn’t want to impede things with Ted.” I ignored Him as I hopped out of my car, fairly confident He wouldn’t talk to me out in the open with the chance of someone coming along. No such luck. “I think you should wear a skirt,” God continued as I walked into my apartment and checked my mail. He didn’t manifest, however, so I was pretty certain I was the only one who could hear His voice. “I gave you a nice pair of legs, and it wouldn’t hurt you to show them once in a while.”
“TMI,” I muttered under my breath. A passing woman gave me a strange glance but looked away when she saw I had caught her. I didn’t need to know what God thought of my legs or any other part of my anatomy, thank you very much. I flipped through my mail, saw it was mostly junk, then went up to my apartment. God was silent, so I assumed He had gone. I couldn’t feel Him all the time these days which really put me on edge. He was easier to take when I knew for sure He was around.
“I’m still here,” God said, materializing as soon as I entered my apartment. In copper this time, which made Him look like a giant penny. “Now, remember, you have a tendency to get overly talkative when you meet someone you really like. Give Ted a chance to talk about himself before filling him in on your life story. Guys like a bit of mystery in their women, so don’t give everything away at once.”
“What, You’re my relationship coach now?” I asked sharply, tossing my purse on the living room couch. “Do You mind? I want to take a shower before I go out tonight.”
“Good idea,” God said, disappearing in an instance. “You go, girl,” I heard from above. The distinct strains of Eminem filled my living room for an instant before falling silent. “Sorry about that.”
“Margaret! Let us in!” It was Thursday night, and someone was banging at my door. Shit. It was Wind and Ned. Again, somebody had let them in. I had half a mind to talk to the landlord about the lax security, but it didn’t seem worth the effort.
“Wind, Ned, how nice of you to drop by.” I pasted a smile on my face as I opened my door. “Ever hear of phoning first?”
“I’m here to cleanse your apartment,” Wind announced, pushing me aside. She was wearing a flowing skirt decorated with tarot card figures and a red peasant blouse. She had a scarf wound around her head, and she was at her most fey. Ned was trailing her, rolling his eyes at her back. I would have laughed if I weren’t completely befuddled as to what Wind was saying. “Ned and I talked it over and decided that it was the devil who’s been talking to you—not God. That’s why I need to do a cleansing ceremony.” She opened her bag and dumped the contents of it onto the coffee table in my living room.
“Wind, it wasn’t the devil,” I interposed, eyeing the items with curiosity. She had sage, tarot cards, a bottle of a clear liquid, and a few other things I couldn’t identify. “I’ve met Lucifer, so I know it wasn’t him.” The minute I said that, I wished I hadn’t. For some reason, I wanted to keep Lucifer to myself. Me and my big mouth.
“You met the devil? What’s he like?” Ned asked, his eyes wide. “Is he just too gruesome for words?”
“Actually, he’s the best-looking man I’ve ever met,” I said, keeping my voice casual. I couldn’t fool my two best friends, however, and they exchanged looks of horror. “After Alan, of course.” I tried to switch tacks, but they were having none of that.
“You have a crush on the devil?” Wind asked, clutching her sage to her bosom.
“I didn’t say that,” I protested, feeling a twinge of conscience. If I were to be absolutely honest, I did have a little crush on the Morningstar. “I was talking strictly about his physical pulchritude, which is magnificent.”
“What did he want?” Ned asked, eyeing me with curiosity. “I mean, Lucifer just doesn’t show up to say hi, does he?”
We all sat down in the living room as I unfolded my tale about meeting Lucifer. They couldn’t believe I hadn’t told them right away, but they forgave me when I said that I needed time to digest meeting the devil. What I didn’t tell them was how Lucifer had almost seduced me into revealing what God wanted with me. I also didn’t divulge God’s warning about what might happen if I took Lucifer up on his offer. I knew I should have told them everything, but I wanted to keep something to myself. My entire life had been ripped apart the last few weeks, and I wanted to maintain a vestige of privacy. At least, that’s what I told myself.
“God, the devil, the Angel of Death, and a protection angel,” Ned mused, looking shell-shocked. “You’ve had quite the experience, haven’t you?” He looked as if he was wondering whom I’d meet next. I did, too, what with the way celestial beings were using my apartment as Grand Central Station.
“I have a date with Ted tomorrow night as well,” I said brightly, trying to change the tenor of the conversation.
“That’s right,” Ned said, brightening as well. “Wouldn’t it be funny if he turned out to be an alien or something as well?” The look I shot him said it most definitely would not be funny, thank you very much.
“Who’s Ted?” Wind asked, looking from Ned to me and back. That reminded us that we hadn’t told her about the drama on Saturday, so we were off and running. We told her everything in excruciating detail, and I had Ned howling with my recitation of misdeeds I had committed at said party. When we reached the part of Ned grappling with his father, well, we all lost it. It had been terrifying at the time, but it was hysterical in retrospect. How white trash can you get, wrestling with your father in his living room? While you’re both wearing tuxes? It tickled our funny bone to no end.
“Is this Margaret?” It was definitely Alan. “It’s Alan. Look, love, I just got out of the meeting, and I’m on the way to the hotel to change. My driver tells me I should be there by six, six-fifteen at the latest. I’m looking forward to seeing you.”
“Me, too,” I echoed, clutching the phone to my ear. I held it there long after he hung up. Alan Rickman. Dinner. My landline rang again, but I ignored it. I was not going to let my mother ruin my mood, which she would do in a heartbeat. I went into the living room and flipped on the television to take my mind off my nerves. It seemed like forever until my buzzer rang. I glanced at my watch and saw it was six-fifteen on the dot. I turned off the television, jumped to my feet and raced to answer it.
“It’s Alan. I just made it.”
“I’ll be right down.” I was touched he actually got out of his car to buzz me when he could have just called me on his cell from the car. I grabbed my purse and a wrap and flew out the door. I almost dropped both wrap and purse when I saw Alan looking natty in a black sports coat and slacks with a brilliant blue shirt.
“You look lovely,” Alan said, offering me his arm.
“You look very handsome as well,” I replied sedately. What I wanted to do was drag him upstairs and have my way with him. I didn’t, however, and contented myself with stealing sideline glances at Alan who looked so damn hot. The car, which was a black Cadillac, looked great, too. I was glad it wasn’t a limo; I found them to be too pretentious. Alan ignored the driver who was standing by the back door and ushered me into the car. He went around to the other side and settled in besides me. A feeling of unreality crept over me as I sat next to my favorite actor. I gathered my thoughts so I could add something to the conversation.
“So, what play would you be doing for the Guthrie next season, or shouldn’t I ask? Wait, don’t tell me, all I really want to know is if you get the girl in the end.” I cringed at my flippant tone, but it was how I dealt with uncomfortable situations.
“Yes, I would get the girl in the end,” Alan said, a slight smile on his face. “Why is that so important to you?”
Thus emboldened, I plunged into a narrative of how I felt it a shame that British actors were used primarily as villains unless they were stereotypically hot such as Jude Law or Kate Winslet. I went on to say how much I preferred foreign films because the actors were usually people who looked like normal people, albeit good-looking normal people. They were people I could meet at a pub, perhaps taking home for the night. When I watched American actors, I could only see them for who they really were. Actors. Grossly overpaid actors. Some who couldn’t even act and were liked more for their looks than their abilities. In addition, American actors were so overexposed, it was difficult to get past their images.
“But I ramble,” I said, screeching to a halt. Alan had been scrutinizing me as I talked, making me feel as if what I had to say was of the utmost importance. “I tend to do that when I get heated.” I wished I could take back that last word as it gave the sentence a double meaning, but Alan chose to respond to my surface statement.
“It’s a good thing, I think, the ability to care deeply. It’s also rather refreshing to talk to someone who cares more about substance than the glitz and glamour of Hollywood.”
“Mom, I’m telling you the truth. I was never engaged to Ned.” It was Wednesday afternoon, and I had just arrived home from work. My mother must have a sixth sense about these sort of things because she always managed to call me the minute I walked in the door. Of course, she refused to call me on my cell phone because she didn’t want to distract me from driving. Besides, she didn’t trust that my cell wouldn’t give me brain cancer. As a result, I had to rush to get the phone the minute I entered my place. As usual, I ended up wishing I had let the machine get it as my mother was venting her spleen about my supposed broken engagement.
“Mom, would I lie to you? I mean, out and out lie?” I infused my voice with as much indignation as I could muster, but it didn’t slow down that train. She berated me at the top of her lungs for making her the shame of the entire Taiwanese community. She told me she couldn’t even go to church on Sunday without everybody talking about her. She knew they were talking about her because they would suddenly hush up whenever she was around. And poor Pastor Wu! Did I even think about what I’d put him through? I had no idea what my supposed engagement had to do with her pastor, but I couldn’t get a word in edgewise. It turned out that the ‘close friends’ of Mr. and Mrs. Chang couldn’t wait to spread the word about how abominably I’d acted Saturday night. When they found out I broke off the engagement, well, they had a field day with that bit of information.
“Mom, I never was engaged to Ned,” I interrupted, feeling more frustrated by the minute. If I told her the truth, I’d have to suffer through a diatribe about ‘homosexuals’, but I didn’t know if it’d be any worse than the tongue-lashing which I was currently receiving. “It was a misunderstanding from the very start. Believe you me, you’d be the very first person I’d tell if I ever did something as stupid as get engaged again.” That made her switch tracks to how I would never keep myself a man with my negative attitude. I was tempted to tell her about Ted, but I knew that’d be the kiss of death as far as any hopes of having a normal relationship with Ted was concerned. Maybe I could mention that plenty of otherworldly beings seemed to want me. No, that might give her a heart attack. Just as I was about to make another snarky comment, my buzzer rang.
“Mom, someone’s at the door. I have to buzz them up.” It didn’t matter that I had no idea who was downstairs; I would rather face a burglar than my mother when she went into full wrath mode. God could take a few lessons from her. More squawking from the phone, and my buzzer rang again. “I gotta go. I’ll call you back.” I hung up the phone and pressed my intercom lever. “Hello?” I wasn’t totally stupid. I’d ascertain who it was before doing anything as rash as letting him/her up. Now that I was off the phone, it didn’t really matter who was on the other side.
“Hello? Sorry to bother, but I’m afraid I’ve been given a wrong address.” The voice was definitely masculine, but it was diffident in tone. British in pronunciation, and there was something very familiar about the voice. Something about the way he pronounced ‘address’. Suddenly, it hit me.
“You’re Alan Rickman.” Instantly, my stomach went aflutter. Alan Rickman was downstairs, talking to me. I was glad I hadn’t changed out of my black skirt and blouse. I scolded myself for thinking of such trivial thoughts when I had Alan Rickman on the other end of the intercom.
“Yes, I am. If you could just give me directions to the Guthrie, I’d be ever so grateful.”
“Hold on. I’ll be right down.” I let go of the lever and grabbed my purse before flying out the door. I could hear the phone ringing as I locked my door, but I ignored it. I knew it would be my mother, and I had much more important things with which to deal. When I reached the ground floor of my apartment, I saw Alan Rickman waiting patiently outside the door. He was wearing black slacks and a white button-down, looking damn good.
“Hi, I’m Margaret Wang.” I stuck out my hand, and he shook it with alacrity. “You’re Alan Rickman.” I was aware that I sounded like an idiot, but it wasn’t every day that I got to meet Alan Rickman in the flesh. Speaking of the flesh, he looked much better in person than on camera, if that were even possible.
“Yes, I am,” Alan said, smiling affably. “Look, I hate to be a bother, but I’ve got an appointment with the director of the Guthrie in—” He checked his watch. “Twenty minutes. I would hate to be late. The worst thing is that my driver took off before I could figure out where I was. It must be a conspiracy to make me late for my meeting.”
“I can take you there if you’d like,” I said, holding my breath. “It’s not very far.”
“That would be fantastic,” Alan said, looking relieved. “I can’t figure out for the life of me how my agent screwed things up so badly. Wait until I get a hold of her.” He was smiling as he spoke, his demeanor belying his words.
“You know, that stuff is bad for you,” God said, leaning against my refrigerator. I sighed as I turned to face Him. He was in chartreuse this time, which was hard on the eyes. Immediately, He muted it to a dusty rose. I surmised He had chosen the chartreuse simply for effect. How like Him.
“I hope You’re not planning on doing this after Gwen is born,” I said sharply, realizing the stupidity of my statement as soon as it escaped my mouth. Of course, He wouldn’t stop visiting once His child was born. If anything, He’d probably increase the frequency of His unplanned visits in order to meddle in Gwen’s affairs. It pissed me off to no end that I no longer had a modicum of control over my life, and I voiced my displeasure to God. “You know, You’re working my last nerve. Couldn’t You at least have the decency to stick to a schedule so I don’t have to worry about You showing up unannounced?” God didn’t answer, which ratcheted my irritation tenfold.
“This shit has got to stop,” I shouted, my hands on my hips. I didn’t know if it was my hormones going in overdrive, but I’d had enough of the Almighty and His highhanded ways. “Get the fuck out of my kitchen. Now!” God still didn’t speak, nor did He move. Without thinking, I picked up a pan and hurled it at Him. It hit Him in the pecs and bounced off harmlessly. It fell to the floor with a loud thud, causing me to jump. God slowly turned translucent as I hauled another pot His way. This time, the pot went through Him, hit the fridge and slid to the floor. Past caring, I hurled pot after pan after plate at Him, some smashing in bits when they hit the floor. Some minutes later, I finally ran out of gas and sagged against the counter. Eyeing the carnage with distaste, I grabbed the broom and the dustpan from the closet.
“You done with your little snit?” God asked, having the audacity to sound amused. He remained transparent, which greatly bothered me. I didn’t like being able to see through God, but He didn’t give a damn about my feelings, or so it seemed. “Or is there more you’d like to get off your chest?”
“I’m through,” I sulked, tossing the debris into the garbage can. “What the fuck do You want?” I knew my mouth was going to get me into trouble with God one of these days, but I couldn’t help myself. Something about Him brought out the worst in me.
“I just wanted to tell you that you’ll be receiving a visit from My son shortly. Ignore everything he says.” God smiled suddenly, nearly knocking me over with the dazzle. It was spooky looking at a pair of gleaming teeth set in—nothingness. Just like that, He was gone.
“Shit,” I muttered, cradling my head in my hands. When I had recovered from His visit, I picked up my cell phone to speed-dial Pie-A-Plenty, the nearest pizza shop. As I was about to punch the button, a portal appeared in my kitchen. Great. It was Lucifer. At least I was still in my work clothes, which meant a slim red skirt and a black blouse. I chided myself for giving a damn and punched the button on the dial. Lucifer was going to have to wait until I ordered my pizza before telling me whatever it was he wanted to say. I was too damn disgruntled to deal with him on a partially-empty stomach.
“Margaret, may I talk to you?” Susanne Timmons, my supervisor at work, poked her head into my office during my prep hour Monday morning. Fortunately, I was prepared for the day so I didn’t have to panic about chatting with Susanne. I nodded and motioned her in. Susanne was a middle-aged woman with salt-n-pepper hair who didn’t wear any makeup. She had a homey look to her which the kids loved. She was like the grandmother many of them never had, but she was much stricter than your average grandma. She cared about them, but held them accountable; it’s what made her so good with our population. I was learning by emulating her, but empathy was something that didn’t come naturally to me.
“What’s up, Susanne?” I asked, setting some papers aside. I had asked my kids to write an essay on what they would tell President Bush if they ever met him, and as usual, they’d surprised me with their insight and passion.
“Margaret,” Susanne hesitated, fiddling with her pen. “I’ve noticed that you’ve seemed preoccupied the last couple of weeks. The other teachers have commented on it as well. You’re more forgetful, and you’ve been late to two meetings. That’s not like you. Is there something you want to tell me?”
Caught, I didn’t know what to say. I still hadn’t figured out a cover story for my impending pregnancy as I didn’t want to use the ‘one-night stand’ tale with my coworkers. However, I couldn’t say that I had a partner, either, because they knew better than that. I supposed I could say it was Gary’s, but even pretending that lech was the father upset my stomach. Come to think of it, I couldn’t even say I was pregnant because I wouldn’t know yet if it were a normal pregnancy. Damn. Could I get away with family issues? Maybe. Or generic dating issues? I hated lying, mostly because I wasn’t very good at it.
“Susanne, it’s not something I feel comfortable discussing at work,” I said carefully, not wanting to offend my boss. “However, I sincerely apologize that my personal problems have spilled over into my work performance. I’ll make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
“It’s your fault for being so superlative the rest of the time,” Susanne smiled, standing up. “If it were anybody else, I wouldn’t even have noticed. I’m here if you need to talk to me.” I nodded as she left, dropping my smile the minute she was out the door. I knew I’d have to be more careful, and I knew I’d have to come up with something soon.
My college friends couldn’t understand how I could be a teacher, for at-risk youth, no less, when I didn’t want children. It’s a common misconception that all women who didn’t want kids didn’t like them or weren’t good with them. Not true. I liked kids a great deal, and they liked me in return because I treated them like adults—no matter the age. I didn’t pat little kids on the head or talk down to them, nor did I lord my authority over my students. That didn’t mean I didn’t set boundaries because I did. I just didn’t automatically assume I was better because I was older as so many adults did. So why didn’t I want to have children? There were many reasons, but the number one reason was because I didn’t want them. Period. I didn’t see why that wasn’t enough of an answer, but most people needed something more.
While I was in my first serious relationship at age eighteen, I came upon the realization that I didn’t want children. Not only that, I realized that I didn’t have to have them. There was no law saying to a woman, ‘Thou shalt bear children’ except for the social stricture, but I was adept at ignoring those. People had varying reactions to my statement of not wanting children ranging from condescension—‘oh, you’ll change your mind later’—to anger—‘you must think I’m an idiot for wanting them’. Most of all, however, people just didn’t understand how a woman could be so sure she didn’t want children. I’d been ask time and time again how did I know I didn’t want children. I was always tempted to ask how they knew they wanted them, but I never stooped to their level.