Excerpt of The Good Daughters by Joyce Maynard
(Page 5 of 9)
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I wouldve given Ray Dickerson my picture for nothing, but I couldnt
After that, whenever we made trips to the Dickersons, I had lots of pictures
ready. Things boys might like: spacemen and cowboys, and a portrait of my
fathers favorite player on the Red Sox, Ted Williams.
Just a few more hours, girls, my mother would say when we complained
about the length of the journey, the discomfort of all those hours in the car. But
the most uncomfortable part was what happened when we arrived, and Mrs.
Dickerson greeted us with that bemused and irritated expression (even as a
child, I could see that), offering us lemonade, but never a meal.
The first year after they moved we drove to Pennsylvania to see them, and
though that time we fit in a visit to the Liberty Bell, to round out the trip, most
of the later trips we madeto Vermont, Connecticut, Vermont againwere
made for the sole purpose of catching up with the Dickersons. My mother told
Mrs. Dickerson that we were passing through. (Passing through? To where?)
The visit might last an hour. Never more than two.
Dana and I shared nothing (she was a tomboy; I was interested in art), but
her mother would always suggest we go upstairs to play, at which point I would
ask Dana to show me her BarbiesBarbie being a kind of doll my mother didnt
believe in, due to her physique and the provocative clothes the Mattel Company
made for her, not that we would have spent the money anyway.
Dana never seemed interested in dolls herself, but Valerie kept giving her
new ones, along with an incredible collection of official Barbie outfits, unlike
the kind most girls I knew back home hadhome sewn by their mothers and
grandmothers, often crocheted and picked up at church fairs.
The real Barbie ensembles all had namesthat I knew from studying the
Barbie catalog. My favorite was called Solo in the Spotlighta strapless evening
dress with sparkles on the hem that came with a tiny plastic microphone,
for nights Barbie performed in nightclubs.
Once, when Dana was in the bathroom, I had stuffed the Barbie gown into
my pocket. Dana had so little interest in this kind of thing she hadnt noticed,
but as we were leaving their house, Ray had put an arm around my shoulder and
whispered, You forgot something. He handed me an odd-shaped package,
wrapped in many layers of toilet paper and sealed with tape, and later, when we
were on the highway, I opened it. The microphone.
I thought about him all that year. How had he known, for startersthough,
of course, it was already proven he was magic. But more important: what did it
mean, that Ray Dickerson, so much older than me, and so handsome, had chosen
to present me with the treasured item?
The next spring, when we made our pilgrimage to see the Dickersons,
I brought him a present of my owna harmonica Id bought with money I
earned from weeding the strawberries, with mother-of-pearl on the case. But
Raythe main attraction of the tripwas off on his unicycle, so I never got
to see him that time. Meanwhile, downstairs, my parents and Valerie Dickerson
chatted about people back home, barely known to Valerie, and my mother
inquired after Danas religious education, such as it was. Shed brought a Junior
Bible as a gift.
That was so thoughtful, Connie, Mrs. Dickerson told her. I wish I could
invite you to stay for dinner, but Im taking an art class.
Art lessons, a woman her age, my mother commented to my father as we
made our way home along that same long stretch of road, after the lemonade
my fathers back straight at the wheel, his eyes on the road and no place else.
What is Valerie Dickerson thinking?
I guess shes got talent, he said. Then, after a minutes silence in the car,
or even longer, he added, Maybe Ruth should take art lessons. Shes got that
Excerpted from The Good Daughters
by Joyce Maynard. Copyright © 2010 by Joyce Maynard.
Excerpted by permission of William Morrow. All rights
reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted
without permission in writing from the publisher.