A Vignette by Lucy Calcio, ’22

 

She gazes through the droplets forming on the windowpane in front of her. The drops splash on the window and slowly make their way down, racing each other across each pane, then finally falling in the same wet puddle below them. She looks beyond the droplets as the waves crash below the gray sky that vastly spreads above the beach. One after another, the white foam surfs the top of the wave as it holds on until the sweet relief of crashing over the top and on the sand below it.

She remembers her days before this moment, in this very same house, in Summers where the sun seemed to shine brighter. She could picture herself in those days, but only as a third-party viewer. She sees her younger self, bright and optimistic, as she was one with the water. She lived in the Nantucket breeze, clean and fresh, and she was happily alone. Her younger self soaked up the sun in the day and saw the night as a time for the stars to come out.  She spent years learning how to appreciate the stars again. Because the stars seem wearier now. They do not come at as spectacle, a performance, for the people below to enjoy. The night blankets them, creating a scrim between us and them, dulling them for years.

 

She thought coming to the Summer home might just revive her life and bring her back to the feeling of before. But standing here, looking at the rain splash the windowpane, she felt more out of place than ever.

 

She knows she does regret getting a divorce. The mundaneness of married life drew her to her breaking point. But she wonders if she tried a little harder, stayed a little longer, if things would have been different. She leaves the window where she gazed at the childhood beach. Her barefoot feet press against the hardwood floor. The Summer feet that had adapted to the splinters and become numb to surprise shells on the beach had faded, now more sensitive at every step.

 

She thinks about him, wonders where he is now. If he too, remembers himself as a once free-spirited 20-year-old in worn-out Levis on the beach across from the woman he loved. Before he became intoxicated with both work and the bitterness of life. Though the man she once loved feels far different than the man she left, his change felt less forced and more like a choice. He chose to keep drinking and lose the smile that would grin across a bar at her. But once she had the baby her life changed in ways she did not want it to.

 

She stares at the telephone that lays before her. Next to it stands a sticky note that had been stuck in the same place on the wall for 10 years. A number, 10 digits. When she came back to the Summer home after all those years, she stuck that number on the wall. She thought she would call someday if she had the constant reminder. The physical process of dialing the numbers is simple. She laughs at the amount of stress and time she had spent over this process. Three steps: pick up, dial, wait. 

 

But what came after the waiting she wonders. Would she pick up? After all this time, what would she say?

 

If motherhood and womanhood could live together in this world, perhaps it would be easier. Perhaps she could have kept the version of herself that ran down the beach at night, danced on countertops, and knew the sun like a close friend. But when the baby came she seemed to lose the ability to do all of that.

 

“How are you?” turned into “how far along are you?” She became a vessel for carrying this human she had no connection to. She walked past people and they would not notice her,

only the protuberance that lay on her stomach.

 

The feeling of guilt had run through her body every day since the conception. What was supposed to be the greatest experience of her life, the moment that made her understand herself as a woman, ending up erasing her entire identity?

 

She looks at her hand and she looks at the phone. She picks up the phone and dials the number without thinking about it. The first ring passes. Panic fills her lungs. The second ring comes and goes. Perhaps this is a mistake, she is too late anyway. The third ring begins and is interrupted.

 

“Hello?”

 

Her voice sounds older than she thought it would.

 

“Charlotte, it’s me.”

 

“Mom?”

 

Tears stream down her face. The first real tears that had tasted her skin in years.