"Fitty" excerpt. One final section to compose. That section is absolutely going to wreck me, and anyone from here on out until the end of time who reads it.
The woman called herself Em, though that was not her full name, and each time she was to see her, Carlene grew more excited than the last.
“A lot of people become the people they’re always going to be a lot earlier than you think they would,” her mother had often reminded her, a pet saying to Carlene’s earlier understanding that became the sturdiest of apothegms—a house that was also a foundation on which to build another house—the further she went into her own life.
“The person at forty is commonly that person they were at sixteen, only now they have a family and a larger behind. There’s not a lot of growth in this world,” her mother signed off, not with asperity but reason. “Hold onto growth when you find it, but not so much it can’t grow.”
Em was only twenty, but Carlene knew that at forty she would be galaxies away from the one she already inhabited. Or universes, anyway. She craved weekends in her company, and each time she came back home to Jake, she discovered, and then had that discovery verified, repeatedly, that she was looking forward to their reunion more on account of what she was going to share, what had just passed, than anything directly between them, as man and wife.
She worried that she was loving him less, until Em, one Saturday in bed, countered the thoughts that had managed an airing.
“If you didn’t love him more, and he didn’t love you more, you’d want to talk to him about something else, and he’d prefer to hear it.”
There are people, Carlene reasoned, with whom one has a relationship, and that relationship becomes a beam. Turn on a beam, and you can’t help but let it all out. A beam is not piecemeal. It’s going to illumine what is ahead, and what makes it what it is is that which shows what everything else is.
“We are funny,” Fitty said, back on Carlene’s lawn, having popped over to return another book—a tattered, perhaps-over-loved Jane Eyre—after Carlene had come home from a weekend with Em.
She waited for the child to talk again. She liked when the child would make a remark, there would be a spell of silence, which was like another kind of spell, a favorable one, an iteration of embrace encased within a gap in time, the world, where two people most come together, partners in restorative lacuna, paired in each other.
“You listening, bitch?”
Carlene laughed. “You got that from Jane Eyre?”
Once more, an interstice. Pregnant, not heavy, lithe. She continued.
“How are we funny?”
“Well, you’re not my parent. You’re not my surrogate parent. We’re not friends, but we’re something else.”
She sat back thoughtfully in her chair with the warped plastic arms, the former streaks of mildew having been washed away in recent rain. The quiet felt like whatever it was that occurred in those moments when Fitty strained upward, eyes closed, her body a diagonal plane, tilted head, not because a blow was forthcoming, but rather a sensed, or hoped for, need to ease into the powerful. Or that was what Carlene thought.
“What are we, then?” she asked, turning her head towards Fitty, who had already fixed her gaze.
Her little eyelids flicked, twice. Carlene could see how long the lashes were from six feet away.
“We’re uniquely connected.”