That night, Lynn settled into her usual routine: putting her son to bed, locking the doors, turning off all the lights but one—she had to have that one for security, to keep the shadows away.
She eased into her bed and stretched out her palms to feel the safety of the worn cotton over a mattress that was hers alone. She didn’t have to fear a drunken man charging into the room, taking her…. This was her bed. Hers, alone. Safe.
A redbud branch scratched at her window, a comforting sound. She turned to watch the moonlight sift through the trees, to listen to the bullfrog in the nearby pond.
Nothing could change this safety. She could believe in others loving—she’d seen Dan with Nora and Jessie’s love of Virgil—so love did exist.READ MORE
Lynn inhaled sharply and tossed on the bed, away from the window. Romance was for others, and for books, but she’d had her chance and she’d settle for safety rather than—
Yet her body ached at times, though she knew the misery of sex….
She couldn’t afford the whimsy that came upon her at times—times when she saw couples in love walking down the street, holding hands….
She’d been married and it had been a nightmare. Max’s loving time would come and she’d be glad, and that was enough….
Nora had said, “two women”. What did she mean?
Lynn hurried to take out the small box hidden on her closet’s top shelf. She walked to the old dining room table, placed the box on the table, and then lit a candle. She took a deep breath and then sat to study the old cigar box.
As the candlelight flickered, she slowly opened the box. If she were truly “two women”, the small notebook inside and the other bits of paper beneath it, would reveal the other woman.
The first week Lynn and Max had stayed with Nora, she had given Lynn that old box and small notebook for her “keepables”. That night, Lynn had written: “Will we ever be safe?”
She had to share her deepest fears and at that point, Lynn was afraid to trust anyone. Writing the notes had helped, a small relief, like sharing with a friend.
She lifted the notebook aside to study the collection of Jessie’s recipes and the small bits of paper with her thoughts. If Lynn’s thoughts came to her during the day, she’d find something to write on and pocket the note. She picked up a pink scrap, taken from a discarded greeting card. “I am with loved ones, Nora and Jessie.”
Lynn traced her handwriting on a scrap torn from a yellow lined pad: “I am afraid. I could fail. I must protect my son.”
Then in the notebook: “I tried to love Rich. There is something in me that he must hate. What is it?”
Lynn slowly picked up a pen, turned to a clean page and wrote: “Tonight, Max and I are in our own home. We are safe. We have friends around us. I am grateful.”
Slowly, she added, “Who am I? Who is she, the Other Woman? I feel her stirring. I don’t know why.”COLLAPSE