by Judith Arcana
Don’t you remember anything? It was just a little while ago, I think it was ‘56, no, it must’ve been ‘57, Suzie went away right after school got out, right at the start of summer. So what was that, your second year at Bonaventure, starting then? Sure, yeah, ‘cause it was the summer before my junior year. Don’t you remember, it was right around the time of spring carnival, they said she was sick and she had to stay home and finish the year with a tutor from DePaul? And then they said she had to go away, so Aunt Viv and Uncle Al took her away, but remember Teddy and the all the little kids stayed with us for a week and you two took them to the beach on the bus every day? Remember it was real hot, everybody was at the lake – except me, that was the year I got my work permit, the first time I could make more than baby-sitting money, so I could only go to the lake on Sundays after church. Anyway, that was when they took her to one of those places, homes, in St. Louis; they keep you there until you have your baby and then they give the baby to people who can’t have kids. It was like a convent there, or a jail even, I’m not kidding, places like that are so strict, the people who ran it were really mean, worse than Sister Marie-Claire – maybe even worse than Sister Thomas. I saw this movie about a girl who had to go to one, and her boyfriend tries to find her and he finally does, and he’s real cute, but they won’t let him in. So Mom and Dad and Aunt Viv and Uncle Al told everybody she was at a sanitorium, for breathing when you get TB or something, but she wasn’t, she was in St Louis. It is true. She did. Don’t tell me you didn’t know this. Suzie had a baby right before school started up again. She nearly got back too late to register; remember because she came late she had to be locker partners with some girl in her homeroom who never talked? How can you not remember any of this?
c Judith Arcana. Do not use/reproduce without permission. First published in Hurricane Alice, Vol.13, #s 2&3, 1998
Judith Arcana is a writer, currently writing fiction about tattoos and poems about abortion (supported by a Poetry Award from the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund, a Poetry Fellowship from Oregon Literary Arts, and grants from the Rockefeller Archive Center and the Union Institute Graduate College). Her poems and short prose pieces appear in anthologies, newspapers, and literary magazines including ZYZZYVA, Nimrod, Fireweed, CALYX and Prairie Schooner. A longtime teacher of writing, literature and women’s studies, Judith’s nonfiction books are Our Mothers’ Daughters, Every Mother’s Son and Grace Paley’s Life Stories: A Literary Biography. Fifty years resident in the Great Lakes region, she moved to the Pacific Northwest in 1995. Judith is a member of the Graduate Faculty of The Union Institute.