The hinges on the old wooden door to the bedroom creak as it shuts. Lilly hears the latch slide securely into its female counter part. She hesitates for a moment still holding the smooth old brass doorknob in her hand. Ear crooked toward the room she doesn't hear a sigh, a moan or even a voice. But what could she expect as it has only been a few moments, she thinks to herself as she releases the knob walks down the short hallway. Her footsteps fall gently not wanting the creaky old floorboards to make a sound. With each step the boards groan softly under her weight. She winces in embarrassment. She doesn't want to be heard or seen. Just to have what is happening to continue. To come to a quick finality so that she can begin to forget and look forward to their future together. She is tired of worrying about what they are trying to do. The decision has been made. It is time to suffer the consequences and expect the best, and have faith that what they are doing is right.
Lilly feels alone and unsure of her movements as she goes into the living room and tries to read. Her mind cannot concentrate. The words float randomly through her. The television sits in the corner and she thinks of turning it on, but the noise of it would destroy her desire to be concealed and unnoticed by the two in the bedroom. Her body feels restless and she cannot keep still. Quietly she creeps out of her chair minutely conscious of her body and every sound she is making. Slowly and deliberately she walks to the chest high window that faces out to her small backyard, and crossing her arms on the faded red windowsill she leans her chin down on her hands. In the distance, past a meadow, the ocean rolls against the brown rocky shoreline that frames the constantly undulating blueness of the water. The brown of the rocks and blue of the ocean make her feel slightly more at ease. But the security and serenity that she yearns for will not come.
Lilly and her younger sister Rose have lived their whole lives on the coast of Maine. They have always been very close to each other and neither one could ever bear to leave the other or the ocean. The smells, sites, and colors have always been special to them both, but for Lilly the colors of the water and coastline have always had a much stronger effect on her. Particularly the blueness of the water that she feels surrounds her like an aura.
The blue is part of Lilly. The blue can comfortably pass through her. It penetrates her mind and body like a delicious thought. It envelops and moves through her like a warm haze. It tints all that she sees and all that she feels. Within the blue is serenity and creativity. It was while lost in the blue that she had accepted Rose's offer.
A small goldfinch lands on the windowsill near Lilly. Startled from her thoughts she looks at the bird. It pauses for a moment looking nervously in through the window at her. A smile rises from Lilly startling the bird and it flutters back into the air. She watches it fly as it is blown about by a gentle breeze. The goldfinch tries to take refuge on a lilac branch near Lilly's perch, but it cannot remain there as a strong breeze sends it back into flight. A gust under its little wings carries it off into the distance, into another yard, onto another tree, on further looking for its place.
When Lilly was a teenager she felt like she was always fluttering about looking for her place. She thought that happiness could be found beyond the borders of her small town, away from its intolerant inhabitants. Even though she could not leave, Lilly often longed to go search for a place might be kinder to her, a place where she could at least live in anonymity. What a blessing she often thought it would be to run and escape the problems that having an alcoholic for a mother had brought upon her and Rose.
As the blue is a part of Lilly, fear and sadness had been deep within her mother. She could barely look at both her daughters without remembering all that she had been through with their father. All she could see in them were the products of his abuse. In her mind, Lilly and Rose were never anything more than needy unwanted souvenirs of the pain and loss that their father had forced upon her.
For their part, they never understood what was behind the sad distant stare of their mother. They did not know and they never found out what had caused her to feel so much pain that she would all but abandon her children to live in an alcohol driven fever of despair. It was all too obvious, though, what the cost of it had been to her. She was not living. She was not whole. Their mother had surrendered to her infinite sadness and had given up trying to love her children, or herself.
It was unacceptable to Lilly that her father might have caused her mothers' slide into alcoholism. She did not realize that her mother had been a whole person before she met Lilly's father. It was impossible for her to understand, or know her mothers' suffering. All that she felt, then and now, was frustration and anger causing her to see his leaving as the result of her mother's failure. Lilly blamed her mother's drunkenness for losing her father and the ostracism of their family, but what she did not know was that her father's leaving was not because of her mother's weakness. It was the result of her mother's strongest moment.
In a town so small there is no such thing as anonymity. The people of Lilly's small town did not know about the abuse in her parent's relationship, or the real reason for his leaving. However, her mother's drunken episodes were well known by the whole town causing them to look down on Lilly and Rose. Some of the stories that were passed by the gossips were true, most were exaggerated, but a few were untruths created by an overactive rumor mill.
For a long time Lilly could not remove herself from her constant and quiet suffering. At home her mother was distant and unloving. When Lilly looked for acceptance from others, she was met with a coarse and false sympathy that made her feel guilty for her mother's alcoholism. She did want or desire their sympathy, and she could barely tolerate their derision. All that she sought was to be treated for who she is, not for how her mother was.
Though Lilly wanted to leave this place and these people, she could not allow herself to abandon Rose. The blue became the only place in which she could find relief from her ceaseless and silent torment.
Quietly Lilly walks from the window to the sliding glass door that leads out into the yard and she carefully slides it open wincing each time the runners squeak as they rub against each other. She steps out into the fresh morning air. The sun feels warm and makes goose bumps run up and down her body. The light breeze that had tormented the small bird caresses her as she closes the door. Turning towards the water she starts to walk through her yard feeling short sharp blades of grass poke at her feet and the dew moisten her toes. She looks up out to the small rocky point she is walking toward and smells the sweet summer air as it blows in over the meadow and through her. The corners of Lilly's mouth curl into a small smile.
Early summer in New England is filled with so many splendors, long days blending into golden evenings where the sun seems to hang endlessly over the horizon. As the light dims it creates an aura of bright orange and burgundy that fades and gives way to night. When the stars emerge slight breezes blow in off the ocean making the air cool and giving the night a sultry dreaminess. To Lilly there is nothing more peaceful than sitting in her backyard sipping a glass of wine while watching the stars blink in the night sky.
On these nights, especially when the moon is full, the blue consumes Lilly's body. Her skin and heart come alive with sensation as her mind is occupied with meditations of the warmth and pleasure that is her lover. Blushing, she smiles as the blue enraptures her with the passion of her and her husband engaged together. It turns her soul into a soaring angel with wings strong and sure to take her up into her minds sky. At night the blue is different. It reaches beyond the water traveling through her up into the atmosphere rising to the stars ascending into the universe and heaven. A heaven she has found here on earth, in her own heart, here at home. Like the transition a raindrop makes from stream to river, to ocean, and then to sky, so too goes Lilly in her blue. From early summer nights, to the promise of morning, and on to the coming of day is where Lilly's heaven and home is found. She is there within it, living the daily circle of her life.
She continues on walking through the peeling white painted gate that hems her yard in. Breezing along easily, she is almost dancing, as she thinks of her evening blue. The path wends its way through the meadow, and leads down to the brown rocks that slip easily into the constantly flowing ocean. The grass on either side of the path is tall and green. The summer is young and the sun has not yet had much chance to turn the grass of the meadow brown and dry. As Lilly walks she feels the moist loose dirt of the path under her feet and the taller blades of grass scratch at her just below the hem of her dress. She is wearing a summer dress that makes her look and feel pretty. Her long dark hair is blown about her face by the soft warm breeze as she walks. Wild flowers are in bloom all around her. Their fragrance comes to her as each breeze blows them dizzily around. Yellow and red, purple and white; there is no common theme other than the randomness of bright color rising from the lush green canvas of grass.
A breath of wind blows softly in her ear sending a slight tingle down her spine. She turns and gazes up toward the bedroom window. The frame around the window is gray and worn with age as are the eaves of the roof above it. The frame and eaves stand out from the whiteness of the house, which itself stands out from the light blue of the sky. The wind in the meadow fills her ears and hides any sound coming from the house, if there is any to be heard.
She tries to see in the window, but there is no movement. She knows all that is happening in the bedroom, and wishing that it was over, knows it will take more time. What they are trying to do has to be done right. She does not want there to have to be a second attempt. This first time is almost more than she can bear. The pleasure her thoughts of the blue have brought her ebb away as her emotions tumble forward. Her mind begins yet another debate with itself as to whether the possible reward is worth what she is going through. She does not know yet, but if this will bring to being a child to share this life with, then she can endure. She has endured worse.
As she stands looking up at the house she remembers when her mother's drinking had intensified to the point that she spent almost all of her time inside of their house. Lilly thinks of how she felt growing up when her mother would make her daily venture out to replenish her supply of booze and cigarettes. Wearing her housecoat she would drag herself down the street to the store and back. This was the hardest and most embarrassing part of Lilly's daily life back then. To the people of her small town her mother had become an example of all that was wrong in the world and what could happen to those weaker than themselves. Their children were routinely lectured that if they did not stick to the "straight and narrow" that was how they would turn out. Whenever the kids mentioned Lilly's name to their parents they would be warned that she was probably "headed down the same path." This attitude had cast a stigma onto Lilly that was carried by most of her classmates, and except for the feigned cordiality that was, and is, the rule in such small towns, they all shied away from her. Lilly was naturally shy and this "stigma" only exasperated her feelings of abandonment by her mother and peers. She thought, and rightly so, that her family had become an acceptable target of certain peoples intolerant and incessant need to establish their own superiority by pointing out the sins and deprivations of those that have been commonly deemed lazy, vile and tainted. Within this small town Lilly believed that a cast system as rigid and intolerant as any in India had labeled her sister, mother, and her as untouchable.
Believing she could not redeem herself or her family from what she saw as her mother's selfish lack of self-control she gave up. Rose and Lilly needed to move forward with their lives, and to do so they had to distance themselves from their mother. They could not move away and she would never leave, so they let any relationship they had with her slip away. Their independence from their mother was based on attitude and emotional distance. Her presence became little more than an occasional and annoying distraction from their daily lives.
School held no meaning for Lilly, as she felt rejected by her classmates, and attending had become a daily hardship to her. As soon as she was old enough she dropped out. Rose, however, had decided that she would stay in school even though she felt that she would now be alone in a hostile place. She was better at ignoring the stares and taunts of her classmates than Lilly was, and also had a strong desire and natural ability to learn. Lilly was proud of her and became dedicated to trying to fill the role their mother had abdicated.
To perform that role Lilly spent her first weeks out of school looking for work. Entering the community and asking them for work was difficult because she did not have the self-confidence to apply at most of the places that advertised. Those that she did, her shy and humble manner made her seem too awkward to hire. It soon became apparent to her that she was going to have to go to the county welfare office, which was located in her town, and apply for assistance. This was a place that she knew well. Welfare had been her mother's second dependency and her reliance on it insulted the work ethic of most in the community, which only added to their snobbish hostility towards Lilly's family. Lilly knew that applying for welfare too would not go unnoticed and as she was filling out the paperwork she caught un-approving glances and stares from the few locals that work in the office. She knew that as soon as she had left they would be calling their friends. Their heads bobbing up and down in acknowledgement that she was just like her mother and that they had all known it was only a matter of time before she was on the public dole too. Lilly just bowed her head, handed in her paper work, and quietly accepted what assistance she could get. She had no choice.
Her days were spent taking care of the house and running errands. Periodically she would go apply for a job that she had either heard or read about. But her luck never seemed to change. She would never hear back from any of them.
In the afternoons she would walk down to the high school and meet Rose. From there the two of them would go on long walks either in the woods or along the shore. This was the best part of the day for them, and their bond steadily strengthened. They would spend their time exploring, playing, and talking. It was during this period of her life that Lilly started to really discover her love for the blue. Rose noticed the blue too, but it did not affect her with the same intensity that it did for Lilly. She did not interpret or identify with color in the way that Lilly could. Often when they were walking Lilly would describe the feelings and emotions that certain colors would bring out in her. The gray of the mist at night made her feel secure, like she was wrapped in a blanket patched together by the blue. The green of the grass made her feel energetic, and playful, though she generally tried to hide such feelings lest they be misinterpreted by a casual eye. The yellow of certain wildflowers made her feel joyous, and ebullient. The purple and reds of others made her skin feel warm and her body feel light. Even the darker colors of winter, or a marsh, or bog elicited a pleasurable sensory perception. But of all the colors she experienced sensually, none affected her more strongly and none made her feel more at ease or peaceful than the blue.
As they walked Rose listened to Lilly express how she experienced the color around her. It was apparent to Rose that as Lilly allowed herself to experience the sensuality of color she would go through an emotional metamorphosis. She would disrobe from her quiet, shy demeanor, and lose herself in her naked, rhapsodic delectation of color. It was obvious that Lilly had an affinity and appreciation for color that was beautiful, pure, and expressive. Rose has always been moved by Lilly's artistic sense, and she still is.
Lilly moves her eyes from the window and looks down the path. The crickets in the meadow are jumping from one blade of grass to the next; to and throe, occasionally popping up over the tall grass and disappearing again into the meadow. One lands on her foot startling her. She looks down and admires the green twitching insect. The cricket hesitates for a moment and then springs back into the meadow. All around Lilly the crickets are using their musical wings like little violins to play their cacophonous song of summer. The colors of the wildflowers and the music of the crickets make for a harmonious display of artistic virtuosity. Each flower, in and of itself could be its own colorful display. Each note that a cricket plays could on its own be a soloist performing a finished piece. But together, the flowers have produced a painting complete and interestingly diverse and the crickets a sonata that is lulling in its simple beauty.
This scene has been painted by Lilly many times before. She has spent hour after hour in this meadow and others like it. A smile comes to her as she surveys the land in front of her with the ocean behind. This is where she, with Rose's help, had learned and practiced her skills as a painter.
Rose couldn't help but notice that Lilly had the truest of artistic instincts. In her soul Lilly felt the language of color communicate to her its desire to evoke and be felt as more than just a sensation of the eye. Rose knew that as color after color entered into Lilly and was absorbed through her entire body, it spoke to her as pure emotion. It was an unspoken language between her and the world, which grew from Lilly's longing to escape the harshness of the people in her life. She had developed a communication with something that was particular to her. In her rapture she could lose her bodily awareness, and travel through a field of color gaining from it the same feelings of closeness, friendship, sharing, and sensuality that most people gain from their daily contact with friends and lovers.
Rose saw Lilly's language with color as a beautiful expression that needed a means into which Lilly could translate her daily conversations. Painting seemed to be the most obvious choice, so Rose decided to help her get started. Lilly was surprised and happy the day Rose brought home from school some brushes, watercolor paints, and a sketchbook for Lilly to paint in. They went outside and found a dying sunflower slumped toward the ground that had been left from the summer. It had started to rot and the seeds had mostly fallen out leaving a brown center surrounded by petals that had a dark orange and yellow hue to them. Lilly sat and stared at it for a moment. She then took out the paints and started trying to recreate on paper what she saw.
What Lilly painted that afternoon was a fairly good representation of an old and rotting sunflower. What it did not represent, though, was Lilly's language with color. It lacked the emotional tie that Lilly has with color. It was just a picture. She was only painting what she saw and not what she felt.
Sitting deep in concentration she gazed at the sunflower. This time she didn't see it for being a flower, but rather as a sentence communicating a thought to her. The colors of the sunflower were the words; the position of its slumped body the punctuation and emphasis that gave its message clarity. To Lilly the sunflower was saying that it was tired and old. It was staring down at the ground from where it came and to where it was now bending, and falling. Its message was of the coming of winter and its own disappearance from earth. Slowly it was dying and passing on to replenish the soil with its body. As it feeds the soil with its own decomposition it nurtures its seed that will grow and allow another to live. The colors were crying to Lilly the sad and hopeful song of life, death, and rebirth.
And so she painted, not a sunflower, but a fluid and moving representation of a faceless, yellowish brown imbued feminine figure reaching from the ground to the sky and the sun up above. Half of its body was either being consumed by, or rising from the soil. Encompassing the figure like a halo was a multi-hued aura that came across with the warmth of summer, the transition of fall and the cold of winter.
When Lilly showed her sister what she had created Rose knew that Lilly has an artistic voice, a voice that would allow Lilly to reach beyond herself and communicate to others the meaning of color. Lilly was excited by what she had done and continued to practice her painting. She felt at ease with her art and would spend hours in fields, woods, and along the ocean drawing and painting.
As her painting progressed she went from trying to represent specific figures to attempting to learn how to get colors and images to put forth the sole message and emotion behind her art. To look at a canvas that she has painted is to feel color speaking to you. It reaches out to you and touches your heart. It can make you smile or cry. It succeeds at expressing to you the meaning and poetry of its language.
A breeze sends a strand of hair onto Lilly's face. She raises her hands and with her fingers brushes her hair back behind her ears. She puts a bare foot forward and walks slowly feeling the earth cling to the soles of her feet with each step. The dew on the tall strands of grass hanging out over the path lightly moistens her dress causing it to cling to her. The dampness feels cool and when the breeze blows against her legs it makes her skin tingle with goose bumps.
She moves along slowly and thoughtfully. Feeling lonely she wishes her husband and Rose would finish their business and come join her down by the water. She can hear the slow splash of the waves as they wash up on the rocks and effervesce into a white foam of bubbles. It is a constant rocking that reminds her of two lovers retreating then splashing together. The sound of the bubbles rising full of air and then bursting mixed with the slap of the water against the rocks are the low moans that ocean and land constantly make in their perpetual coupling. Lilly wraps her arms around herself as she walks and wishes that she had her lover back.
She reaches the end of the path and steps out onto the brown rocks that border both the meadow and the ocean. The breeze has picked up. The sound of it and the ocean fill her ears. Lilly walks toward the water avoiding small puddles of rain that have collected. The tide is high and occasionally splashes up over its light brown border creating a mist of blue ocean vapor that is blown by the wind. With a soft stroke the chilled spray of blue moistens Lilly's skin. By this tender kiss Lilly is starting to feel the blue surround and envelop her.
When Lilly had turned twenty and Rose was eighteen (and a senior in high school) their mother quietly died at home. It was early fall and the air had turned a bit colder, but the chilled days of autumn were still a few weeks off. The town was enjoying the quiet that comes between the end of the summer tourist season and the beginning of the fall foliage. The shops and beaches were empty, but still awaited another rush of tourists coming to enjoy the fall colors. Lilly's mother had spent the summer in her lonely inebriation. As she drank to escape the failings of her life she had also started to drink to dull her awareness that she was dying. For a year she had felt a pain in her belly and noticed sores on her skin that slowly had worsened. By the time summer had ended her pain had become unbearable. Drinking helped, but it did not stop the pain. The sores caused her to be quite uncomfortable, and they would not heal. She knew that she did not have much longer to live and suffered alone without telling either one of her children that there was a tumor growing in her belly. Her children were, to her, people that she had never been able to accept or love. From the time they were born they had been an affliction. She had not wanted them and still could barely look at them and how they had grown. They had matured to resemble her tormentor and in her opinion, they had abandoned her to a lonely fate. Lilly's mother saw dying as a last chance to cause them some of the emotional pain that they, by their existence, had caused her.
Lilly and Rose's lives had become so separate from their mothers that in their daily routine they did not see her. They were never home and left their mother to be on her own. Neither one of them took responsibility for her, nor did she take any responsibility for them. This is why when she started her mortal slide they did not notice. It was not until Rose found her unconscious that Lilly or she became aware of their mother's imminent death. By the time they called an ambulance and gotten her to the hospital there was nothing they could do but wait.
Their mother never regained consciousness and died quietly in the early morning while Lilly slept near her bed in the hospital. When the nurse came in and woke Lilly to tell her that her mother had died, she calmly rose from the chair she had been sleeping in and walked to her mother's side. She did not know all that her mother had been through before her, and did not understand her pain or her deep need to hide inside her alcoholism. It was impossible for her to know of the strength that it had taken her mother to finally rid herself of Lilly's father. There was no way for her to have understood that what was in her mother's glare was the constant remembrance of her brutal and humiliating victimization by Lilly's father. Neither one had ever tried to talk honestly with the other. They were too angry, too emotionally detached, and too afraid of each other to even try to relate on any level other than simple communication. When Lilly looked down at her all that she saw was the pitiful body of her severely alcoholic mother, the person who she blamed for her families painful ostracism by the community, and her own withdrawal from it. Lilly looked down at all she had thought was wrong with her life, and all that she had felt made her so lonely and unhappy. Not a tear entered her eyes. She felt nothing but resentment and contempt as she slowly muttered to her dead mother, "Goodbye." She turned and walked out of the room and out of the hospital feeling freer than she ever had before.
Rose reacted to her mother's death in much the same way that Lilly did, and felt she had been freed to start to develop herself beyond the stigma of being "that woman's" daughter. By attempting to be more of a social person Rose fought back her shyness and allowed people to see more of her personality. Her subtle sense of humor and intelligence that had for so long gone unnoticed became more self-evident. She became more talkative and started to engage with her classmates by participating in class and trying to ease herself into the social circles that existed during the free periods at school. People got to see more of who she was and slowly started to accept and respect her. She began to walk and carry herself more confidently, and talked often of continuing her education after high school by going on to college. As she became more successful with her peers her confidence grew quickly, she learned that she enjoyed being with other people, but also discovered that her independence from them was important too. She did not try to fulfill some ideal that they may have had for her, and others, to live up to. It was important to her that she be herself, and let them accept her for who that is.
Despite her social success, Rose still noticed a slight hesitancy among her classmates and others towards her. She knew that she had gained a particular level of acceptance among them, but she was not acknowledged or treated on the same terms as they treated each other. There was an uncertainty in their relationships. She felt that the acceptance she had gained was on a different level. It was as if she was foreign to them and that although they liked her and did not treat her badly they still did not understand or feel close to her. She knew that some of this was due to the circumstances of her mother and the life she had led, but she also was well aware that part of it was due to Lilly and their perception of her. Rose loved and depended on her sister very much. The two of them still had a very close bond that no amount of pressure from her classmates, direct or indirect, could ever cause Rose to change. She had spent too much time outside of their social circles to want to bend to their needs and requirements for acceptance. They either accepted her with Lilly, or not at all.
Lilly was perceived by Rose's classmates as being an eccentric loner because after their mother died Lilly rejected seeking the town's approval and acceptance to pursue her art. Around their town there was a budding community of artists that would show their paintings and other work in a local cafe. The cafe attempted to be trendy and in some respects it had succeeded. The people who frequented it were urban escapees trying to bring some of the city culture that they missed to their new found home. The owner was a man in his forties who had lived most of his life in Boston working for a large insurance company approving or rejecting policy applications. The cafe was his way of trying to reject his former live and he found it to be serendipitous that the first opened store front he found was a converted bank.
He had painted all of the interior walls white so as to show off the paintings that were on display and for sale. There were a few tables, a counter and in the back where the vault had been was a sitting area with some cushioned chairs and a couch. Generally the only locals that went there were a few rebellious teenagers and some longtime residents who moved out in the ‘50's, but had returned to retire and missed some of the urban atmosphere of the cities they had lived in. As cafes go in such small towns it was fairly active and occupied mostly by people the locals referred to as the "transplants."
Not long after her mother died, Lilly took a couple of her paintings down to the café to see if she could get the owner to show and hopefully sell them. The paintings she took with her were what she called seascapes, but to anybody who looked they would have no resemblance, in a literal sense, to the ocean. They were canvases awash with blues and greens that seemed to have a subtle motion to them. They were intense, but easy to become absorbed in. When the owner of the café saw them he immediately made a commitment to show them after the current set were through.
It was normal for an artist who was showing work to have the owner write a byline about him or her that would be posted for people to read. Lilly explained to him how and why she had started to paint and that what was important to her was not representing the exact form of the subject, but its feeling, language and emotion, which she could communicated through the use of color and motion created by the strokes of a brush. As Lilly spoke about color and how it affected her she started to feel the blue. She lost her awkwardness and spoke softly and confidently about herself. She did not go into any depth about her family and she did not tell him of the recent death of her mother. She was inebriated with the joy that she was finally communicating with someone who seemed able and willing to accept her for who she is. She looked around and no one was staring. She knew that no one would leave that building and say anything more about her other than how they had felt about her paintings. She felt that she was truly free and had moved her life away from the pettiness of her former tormentors. The blue had freed her from her mother and her painting had opened a door that she could now walk through. Without leaving her home, her woods, her ocean, and most importantly her blue she had found a place that would accept her.
As their conversation continued Lilly and the owner of the café became more informal and relaxed with each other. Lilly learned that his name was Peter, and that he was from Boston. She shared with him bits of her life and the frustrations she had felt, without going into the reasons behind her shy apprehensions. He told her about his frustrations with his former work and how a letter he had written to the president of his company explaining those frustrations had led to him being fired, and his subsequent decision to change his life by moving north and starting the café. They discovered that they had both ended up at that spot and at that moment looking for their independence, acceptance, and freedom.
As their conversation came to an end Peter offered Lilly a job at the café, which she agreed to take. She started painting in the mornings and then worked at the café from about noon until early evening when she would leave to continue her painting. While she was at work she met many of the local artists who, after seeing her paintings and talking to her, respected her as being a fellow artist and kindred spirit. She did not consider them to be close friends, but she did enjoy their company and conversation. The person at the café who she liked the most was Peter. From the first day they had met they developed a strong bond that as time passed and fall slipped into winter, had grown into love. By the time Christmas came around Lilly was thoroughly ensconced with her new life at the café and with her growing relationship with Peter.
Peter had fallen in love with Lilly too, and shortly after the New Year passed he asked her to marry him. Without hesitation Lilly said yes. They agreed that they would live in Peter's house and that Rose would live with them until she went off to college. The house that Lilly and Rose had been living in was not much and had fallen into disrepair. They decided that there was no point trying to fix it or keep it so they put it up for sale. The money would be used to help pay for Rose's college expenses.
Time flew by like a blur for Lilly. It seemed like a brief moment between her meeting Peter and their wedding. It happened during late spring in the meadow behind their house. Rose was Lilly's maid of honor, and their vows were witnessed by their friends from the café. Lilly was giddy and excited as she strode down the dirt path that was the aisle leading up to Peter and the justice of the peace that married them. It was the same path that she now walks every day, and the same meadow, coincidentally, that she had first started painting in. She looked up at Peter as the wind blew through her hair. The deep blue of the ocean was off in the distance and the sun reflecting off the water was bright and warm. Around them crickets sang and wild flowers spun in the breeze. The meadow was flourishing and Peter standing in the middle of it all waiting for his bride was beautiful. As Lilly approached she looked up into his eyes and saw the blue within them. She felt the blue touch her gently and she blushed when the words were spoken that married them. She knew then that she loved him and she knows it now even more.
After they were married, Peter, Lilly, and Rose spent the summer together running the cafe and enjoying each other's company very much. The more Peter and Rose got to know each other the higher their regard and respect for each other grew. Rose looked to Peter as a brother and he thought of her as a sister. Lilly spent most of her time painting, working, and monopolizing as much of Peter's free time as she could.
Lilly and Rose's house sold early in the summer to a family from Boston who were going to tear it down and build a summer home. It felt good to both Lilly and Rose to be rid of it and to see it go to people who will be happier on the land than they ever were. The money was enough to assure Rose that she could attend four years of college without having to go into debt. Lilly's paintings were selling well at the café and she promised to use that money to help Rose pay for her living expenses and for her books.
The end of the summer came quickly, and in late August Rose left to go to the University of Maine. It was the first time that she and Lilly had ever been separated and it was difficult for her at first. But as time went by Rose became occupied by her studies and knew Lilly had her painting and Peter to keep her busy and happy.
With Rose gone Peter and Lilly felt as if there was something missing from their lives. Lilly had grown so used to taking care of Rose that now that she was gone Lilly felt a slight incompleteness. Her life was certainly busy enough, but it lacked the fulfillment that having someone around to care for had given her. Lilly knew that what she longed for was a child to share her and Peter's happiness with; a baby that would be theirs. A child she could raise and distance herself even further from the trauma of her life with her mother.
Peter at first was somewhat cool to the idea of starting a family. He had become comfortable with his present life and needed some coaxing to see that a child would add to their lives. Lilly was effective at enlisting the help of their friends who were excited by the idea of their friend Peter having a child. With their help and Lilly's persuasiveness Peter came to embrace wanting to be a father. They started immediately and the longer they tried the more intense their desire to have a child became. But as each month came and passed without their becoming pregnant they became more and more disappointed. Disappointment grew into despondency and soon getting pregnant was all that they could think about. Lilly would call Rose to lament her despair and feelings of frustration and sorrow at not being able to conceive. Rose could only console her and felt inadequate at trying to help Lilly.
Month after month went by without any sign of a change. Lilly asked her friends who had children if it had taken them as long to conceive. All they could say is that you have to have faith and to keep on trying. Their advice did little to help Lilly. She cried each month when her period would arrive telling her that yet again they had failed to make a baby. Lilly's art started to suffer as she felt the blue recede from her. She and Peter became sullen. It was obvious to all those around them that a cloud had descended and it would not easily go away.
After a year without any success they called a doctor who said that they needed to relax and just let it happen. During this time Rose had come home for summer break and saw how their lack of fertility was causing them to suffer and lose themselves. She was slightly encouraged that they did not let this weaken their relationship. Their love was as strong as it ever was, and despite their frustration and disappointment they never stopped enjoying their lovemaking. They constantly strove to maintain its fulfillment and tenderness. They were not losing touch with each other, but they were not as strongly connected to their lives. Rose did not know of a way to help them cope with their sadness, but she did not stop trying to find a way.
When Rose went back to school Lilly and Peter decided to take a break. They stopped trying to predict when Lilly was most fertile and would no longer make love for procreation, just for recreation. They were trying to relax and take the pressure off themselves. They tried to forget that they were trying to get pregnant because they felt that if they could get back into their lives, then the process would happen on its own naturally. Hopefully by losing the expectation that each time they had sex they might conceive, their bodies might reward them by allowing one egg from Lilly to meet with one sperm traveling from Peter. And hopefully, without them noticing, this small meeting within Lilly would grow and develop into the baby that they both wanted so much.
They were not able to completely put their desire to have a child into their subconscious as they had wanted. Each time Lilly got her period she would re-experience the frustration and despair. But they were able to find a space within themselves where they could keep their hopes and still live their lives. Lilly was painting more now, but she would take a break while she was menstruating to try to morn and heal herself.
Rose meanwhile felt removed from all that was happening. She felt a deep guilt that after all Lilly had done for her and all Lilly had given up for her that she could not help her beloved sister. Rose tried as much as she could to reassure Lilly, but it wasn't enough. Rose felt that she was falling short. If she could not do something that greatly affected Lilly's situation then she had failed her sister. She knew that Lilly and Peter could not afford the huge expense of seeing a fertility specialist and they would never want or be able to be artificially inseminated. All that Rose could say to her sister was to see a doctor and find out if it was even possible for Lilly and Peter to conceive. In the back of her mind she kept to herself one thought.
Lilly and Peter had been resistant to being tested by a doctor. They were both scared that the results might reveal they would never be able to have children. They preferred to live in a certain amount of denial to maintain their hopes that someday they might be able to conceive a child. They continued on throughout the winter and early spring, but when May arrived and Rose came home from school they realized that they could not go on as they were and needed to find out for sure why they had been unsuccessful. Rose had been able to convince them that they needed either a sense of finality or hope.
The visit to the doctor and the result of the tests put to rest Lilly and Peter's hope of ever having a child. Lilly was not fertile and there was no procedure to cure it. She could not conceive a child. The news hit her hard, but after so long without any success she felt that something had to have been wrong and was not surprised by the unfavorable diagnoses. It was mid-May and the trees and plants were just starting to bud and turn green. Peter took Lilly home and he prepared himself to cope with their infertility by diving into summer and being busy with all their work and activities.
No matter how busy Lilly made herself she could not shake her sadness. For someone who can create such beautiful art, but not be able to grow life in her womb, which is the most natural form of creation and growth, it was too much to easily forget and move on to a life devoid of the one thing that could make it complete. Lilly needed this; she had spent her life raising her sister and distantly watching her mother slowly kill herself. She had suffered the idle and cruel gossip of a town that used people like her family to make their own failed lives and unrealized dreams seem somehow dignified; people who had no meaning to their own lives and would go on producing offspring that would never break their family's cyclical lack of insight and compassion; people who for generations had not, and would not change. Lilly wanted a child to prove that her mother's failings and self destructiveness had ended with her, and that Lilly had been strong enough to save her current and future family from what others had assumed was a lineage of failure. Lilly's dream of redemption had only been partially fulfilled by her new life with Peter.
She knew that she could easily fall into Peter's arms and that his love being unconditional would not cause him any regret or hesitation to continue their lives as they had been going. His compassion and love for her demonstrated that he bore her no resentment and that his only thoughts were of trying to bring back some semblance of normality to their lives. But she could not hide in his love and knew that she somehow had to learn how to live with her last and most painful loss. Instead of turning to Peter she turned to her oldest and most familiar form of support. She walked from Peter and Rose into the blue. She stopped painting, and communicating with the world around her. She was no longer part of something bigger than herself, and became lost in her retreat into the blue. Her days became lonely wanderings to the ocean where she sat in despair.
Peter could not penetrate Lilly's breakdown and the more he tried the further he felt from her. He looked to Rose for help, but she just shook her head and could not answer him. Rose was desperately afraid for Lilly. She knew what was happening to her and knew that if Lilly could not break free that she was destined to live the same life of fear and sadness that their mother had succumbed to. Rose knew that she had to act to save Lilly, herself, and their family. After three days of watching Lilly sit endlessly by the ocean looking blankly at its magnificent blue, Rose had made up her mind. She slid the sliding glass door open that led out to the small backyard, walked out through the yard, passed the old wooden gate, and stepped onto the dirt path that led down to the meadow and out to the ocean. Rose then stepped out onto the brown rocks bordering the ocean and heard the water surge against them. Rose stopped and looked at Lilly. She knew that what she wanted to do would irrefutably bond them for time immortal. What she wanted to share with Lilly would forever tie her to Peter as well. It could pull Lilly back and give her what she so desired. It would also give Rose all that she desired too. This was her chance to thank Lilly and bless her for the life that Rose so admired and loved. Rose stepped to where Lilly was sitting and knelt down to her. Gently and tenderly she held Lilly's head in her hands, and pulled her closer. Slowly she put her lips to Lilly's ear and softly whispered "Let me carry the child."
Now as Lilly finishes her walk she looks out to the ocean and into the endless blue of the horizon. The darker blue of the water rises to form a convex line where a band of powder blue sky sinks to meet it. There is nothing off in the distance. No boats or planes just the unceasing and constant surge of the water. Lilly walks further out to the edge of the rocks lost in her contemplation of the past and all that has led up to this moment; a moment that finds Lilly alone waiting for her sister and husband to complete the natural and spiritual work of conceiving a child who they all will share and love as their own. A moment in which Lilly feels the warm reassuring tug of the blue, knowing she controls it, assured that she no longer needs to escape into it, she accepts the blue as one more beautiful, lovely, and exceptional part of the circle of her life.
Causes James Buchanan Supports
Expanding health care in the US, ending war as a viable tool of foreign policy, and issues related to social justice in general.