If the phone rings once after midnight, she is to go into the kitchen and wait for it to ring again. Usually it rings within the next five minutes, but there are nights that test her faith, twenty minutes, thirty. On these nights, she stands motionless observing the moon over the backyard, afraid of doing anything more lest she wake her sleeping husband. And when the call comes, she swiftly brings it to her ear and murmurs, “Hello,” in a frail foggy voice like she has a cold, and waits for Jim to respond.
“Mmmmmm. Evelyn. Tell me…”
He is counseling her. He has counseled others before, in his time as a minister, though never under these circumstances. It is important that they remain objective. He does not trust them to speak in the flesh and not give in to temptation. To give in to temptation prematurely, Jim says, could be disastrous to her psyche, as well as her commitment to the Temple and the cause of socialist revolution. Her commitment means more to him than their personal relationship, as much as he desires to see this relationship fulfilled on all levels.
Jim tells her that he needs her to be honest. Honest and vulnerable. He knows vulnerability does not come naturally to her, that she is a woman who has never truly “been mastered”. He expects the process will be especially painful for her. He wants her to remember always that he loves her, and that nothing she reveals to him during these sessions can possibly change this.
“Tell me ’bout the girl,” Jim requests the first night they speak. “Tiny girl Evelyn.”
So she tells about the girl that she was: a bright responsible girl with a nice smile for photographs and strangers, nice manners, clean clothes, clean hair, not a lot of imagination. A girl who was kind to her dolls and baby sisters, who took genuine pleasure in keeping her bedroom neat, pleasing her parents and teachers, dressing up for church and school in saddle shoes, bobby sox, plaid pinafores. She was a girl who never made up stories but liked when her parents read to her, and reading to her sisters when she was old enough. She liked the fairytale worlds, green jungles, purple mountains, vast oceans, the triumph of good over evil. Life seemed full of good things, an essential optimism, until she was in middle school and suddenly it wasn’t.
“What happened to you, baby…?”
Read full in Gargouille Issue 3