One day weeks afterward, I was standing by the door of the shoe store while my mother tried on shoes, and I heard a woman running past the store call, "Mike!" I was suddenly convinced that this woman must be Mike's mother. I was now running out of the store—thinking only that in another minute I would see him.
The woman had caught up with a boy about five years old. A common name. A stupid flat-faced child with dirty blond hair. My heart was beating in big thumps, like howls happening in my chest.
Sunny had met my bus in Uxbridge that summer of 1979. She was a bright-faced woman, with silvery brown curly hair caught back by unmatched combs on either side of her face. Even when she put on weight—which she had done—she looked not matronly but majestically girlish.
She swept me into her life as she had always done, telling me that she had thought she was going to be late, because Claire had got a bug in her ear that morning and had had to be taken to the hospital to have it flushed out. Then the dog threw up on the kitchen step. Johnston was making the boys clean it up because they had wanted a dog.
"So suppose we go someplace nice and quiet and get drunk and never go back there?" she said. "We have to, though. Johnston invited a friend whose wife and kids are away in Ireland, and they want to go and play golf."
Sunny and I had been friends in Vancouver years before. Our pregnancies had dovetailed, so that we had managed with one set of maternity clothes. In my kitchen or in hers, once a week or so, distracted by our children and sometimes reeling for lack of sleep, we stoked ourselves up on strong coffee and cigarettes and launched out on a rampage of talk—about our marriages, our fights, our personal deficiencies, our interesting and discreditable motives, our forgone ambitions. We read Jung at the same time and tried to keep track of our dreams. During that time of life that is supposed to be a reproductive daze, with the woman's mind all swamped by maternal juices, we were still compelled to discuss Simone de Beauvofr and Arthur Koestler and "The Cocktail Party".