Suddenly, Glory needed to throw up. She was two blocks away from Min's house, her shoulders ached from lugging that obscenely heavy massage table, and a nauseating, terrifying realization thundered through her skinny frame: For all of her rejection of her family's values, for all the drugs and sex and dancing, for all the Shambhala retreats, yoga, macrobiotics, lesbian experimentation and bisexual exploration, veganism, raves, and Rainbow Gatherings, and despite every other attempt to make her life richer, more exhilarating and meaningful than her WASPy Main Line family could imagine or even understand, Glory was her mother. From time to time, the thought had occurred to her in stabs of recognition when she put on make up or caught a glimpse of herself in an expensive shop window, but something violent in her catapulted the idea, determined to consider it no further. Now it struck her as absolute truth…and she wanted to barf it out.
She found herself shaking, dizzy and looking directly at her old hangout, Vostok's. She was in terrible need of a place to put her table down and find a toilet, but she recognized there was a chance that Liam would be there. She silently brought her awareness into her feet to stay grounded in her body in case of the worst and pushed through the door. Vostok's was blessedly Liam-less.
“Hey, Glory, you need a hand with that?” said Dane, the barista. He was obnoxiously pretty and so sugary sweet to her. She was not in the mood for it and said nothing, instead looking around in vain trying to find a place to set her stuff down.
“You can hang out in back if you want?” Dane said, looking a little concerned. She appreciated that while worrying that her skin looked as green as she felt. The back bar was usually not open until night and was used for poetry readings, acoustic guests and the occasional mediocre work-in-progress alt-theater piece.
She felt her mother's blood truly in her veins for the first time barely half an hour ago as she was working a knot out of Min's back. It wouldn't give, so at first she held steady pressure on it, and when it still wouldn't give she pushed hard, producing the only flinch of the entire session. Min returned quickly to bliss, perhaps not even really noticing, but Glory noticed.
Glory had believed the massage was an enlightened idea—a way of overcoming betrayal and humiliation through love and compassion. But that wasn't what it felt like when she was doing it. She felt like an angry woman, pressing down her hate and her jealousy into her shoes, through mindless work trying to twist the world around her into a more pleasing shape. It reminded her of how her mother would go quiet and prune flowers, or bake bread—kneading the dough with carefully controlled violence—when her husband or children ignored her. Or how she would meticulously sand and then stain furniture when her husband was gone too long on too many mysterious business trips.
And then it all came to her: Glory, the party planner, the hostess, the socialite, the jovial quipper who always had a drink in her hand and a drug in her blood, who always seemed to be having fun even when she wasn't, who would cry only in bathrooms or when no one was looking; Glory, the girl with the taste for angry, cold men who got off on bullying people, and loved to lie to your face; Glory the girl-child excessively concerned about her weight and looks, and with a fashion budget far exceeding her income. Glory was not the daughter of Elizabeth Abigail Taft Harrison—she was her continuation in another body and a different scene. The fact that her drug was X or pot or Xanax, and Mom's was Valium was a trivial distinction.
Glory jumped up to the bathroom, her finger poised on her lip. She locked the door behind her. As her finger inched near her uvula, she paused. There she was, in the mirror. She closed her eyes for a second, opened them again and looked at herself carefully. The fact that she could see her father in her nose and eyebrows slowed her for a second. She was not her mother's clone, at least. She remembered her meditation training, again. She breathed and tried to feel what she was feeling.
She wanted to be empty, void. She wanted that short-lived high of purging that made her feel lightheaded, perversely refreshed and sleek for a few blessed moments. A few slow breaths more. She thought of her mother and wondered if this was how she seemed able to eat a big dinner and still fit into her party skirts at fifty-two.
Glory looked at the bags under her eyes. Min and everyone else looked up to her as an elder stateswoman at twenty-six. What if they knew she was really twenty-eight?
And maybe that was why it was all so rough. “Saturn returns at twenty-eight,” Topher had said. She wasn't sure what that meant, exactly—she relied on friends to keep her up with astrology—but it was supposed to be a rough year. She thought about Morowitz's joke that “he didn't believe in astrology, just like any good Virgo” and smiled.
Glory found she was not crying in the bathroom and that she was not going to start sticking her finger down her throat again. And then she found she could pull her hand away from her mouth and stand up straight, imagining that golden cord that her first dance teacher talked so much about pulling her spine up to the sky. She flushed the toilet to make it sound as if she had been in there for a reason, put just a little bit of concealer on to hide the dark circles under her eyes, washed her hands thoroughly (some of her mother's habits were not so bad) and exited.
There were a latte and a biscotti waiting for her at her table.
How pathetic, she found herself thinking, despite herself. It was an odd automatic mental response to an act of generosity, but she had noticed she had those thoughts a lot. She needed to work on that. She looked down at the latte. It had a little mint syrup in the top just like she liked. The biscotti was almond. Her favorite.
Dane was fixing someone a cup of coffee with a big easygoing smile on his handsome face. She felt a different kind of lightheadedness, her muscles untensed, and the giddy hopefulness that she sought in a drug now naturally wiggled its way up her spine.
And then she thought something Elizabeth Abigail Taft Harrison would never consider: that sweet, thoughtful, coffee shop boy who was unashamed to show he liked me is fucking hot!
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In this, second to last vignette we get to see the story from the perspective of the most important member of the supporting cast: Glory.
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