The photograph caught my eye, Giants?! I quickly lifted the section of newspaper that sat atop Eve’s purse. Oh! It’s just sports, I told my Friend with a loud sigh. Eve walked into the kitchen just as I replaced the paper. “You went into my purse!” she shouted. “I’m going to tell! You went into my purse!” She ran up to the woman’s room. I ran after her, “I didn’t go into her purse! The newspaper was on top. I just picked it up to read and put it back!” “She went into my purse!” Eve insisted. “Even though it was on top, it’s still my purse!” “But I didn’t even open your purse!” “She’s right,” the woman told me sternly. “If it was on top, you went into her purse.” I shook my head. A flash exploded inside me. I saw it across the screen of my mind, was surprised it failed to light up the shaded room: “I. Did. Not. Go. Into. Her. Purse.” Each word was precise, clipped, definite. My voice rang with an accent similar to, but different from, more proper than the woman’s. I stood upright, as at the barre, my shoulders down, my head up. “Yes you did,” the woman declared. “You should spank her,” Eve declared. “Come here,” the woman reached her arm out to me. “No.” the same precise tone and accent rang through the room. “What?” the woman’s forehead crumpled. “Leave me alone!” it was a command. “What?!” the woman’s eyes opened wide. Eve’s mouth was a large O. “Leave me alone!” my voice was louder now. “Get over here,” the woman’s face was steely. “Leave! Me! Alone!” it was a scream. I ran from the room, locked myself in the hall bathroom, and stared out the window at the balcony railing.
Bang! “Let me in!” I ignored the woman’s voice. Make them go away, please, I begged my Friend. Bang! Bang! “Let me in!” the woman demanded again. I said nothing. My breath came faster, my chest heaved, the well inside me sloshed over, became wracking sobs and then, Cough! Cough! Cough! “You’re going to make yourself sick!” the woman’s voice was sharp. I don’t care, I mutely told my Friend. Tap. Tap. “Let me in,” the steel was gone from the woman’s voice. “I promise, I won’t hit you.” Shaking, emitting shallow, he-huh, he-huh breaths, I unlocked the door and opened it. The woman came in, “You didn’t know. I understand. But even if something is on top and sticking out, you must not take it. That’s Eve’s private bag.” Eve nodded. Claire guarded the doorway. The woman sat on the toilet and tried to pull me onto her lap. I stiffened my body. She released me. He-huh. He-huh. He-huh. The wracking sobs would not stop.
“You’re so sad,” the woman said to me, her forehead wrinkled. He-huh! He-huh! He-huh! the sobs grew louder, shook my entire body. I hugged my arms around me. Claire came in and closed the door. “Eve wears lipstick,” Claire told the corner of the room. Eve took a sharp breath, “Huh!” The woman looked at Eve, “You know you’re not supposed to wear lipstick.” “It’s just lip gloss,” Eve’s voice held a rising note. “You girls don’t think I understand. But I do,” the woman caught up Eve’s hand. “Your father doesn’t want you wearing lipstick until you’re eighteen.” “He’s too strict,” Eve poked out her lower lip. “Yeah!” Claire chorused. “He is strict. But he’s your father”. “He won’t even let me date. You know I had to lie whenever I went out with Ray. He’s known Ray since he was a baby!” Eve’s voice reached a higher octave. “And he nearly hit me because I bought shoes with little heels!” Eve paused for a breath. Her eyes narrowed, “You lied to him about those.” “I know,” the woman still held her hand. “You want to go to dances and parties.” She took a breath, “And you will when you’re older. But now, you must respect your father. And you can dance in your bedroom or at your girlfriend’s houses.” Claire muttered, “Like that’s fun.” “What’s that dance? You asked for a tape for Christmas,” the woman smiled. “Stayin’ Alive?” Claire asked. “The Hustle?!” Eve crowed. The woman nodded at Eve, “Show me that dance,” the woman told them. Eve twirled with Claire knocking into the tub and laughing. The woman laughed too. I stood in the corner. The explosion within me dimmed to a glimmer. The well seemed blocked by something cold and stony.