If this seems confusing, maybe it’s because you haven’t read what came before. This is the 25th chapter of What Would Water Do, a novel. To begin at the start, click here. I also write short stories, personal essays, and other bits. Look in the categories, above, to see more.
If Lang continues at this pace she should be done with the director’s cut of Deep Water by the end of the week. It is almost 3 a.m. according to her wristwatch: she should go home to rest, cook breakfast, see Elle off for her lessons and come back to meet with Liz, the film editor. Then they can spend the day going over her notes and tweaking things.
She pops another pill from the vial in her pocket and swallows it with a swig of tepid coffee. Her little screen is filled with the golden, delicious figure of Adele Ratignolle, Edna Pontillier’s best friend. For this part Lang was very pleased to use Juliette Bouchez, one of her favorite women and a magnificent actress whose heavy French accent works perfectly for this film set in high Creole society. The first time they met at a party in Paris five years ago, Juliette had twitched clear across a crowded room with her arms outstretched to greet Lang in her voluptuous embrace. Juliette had said, “Where have you been all my life? I am so glad to finally meet you!” Rosemary and Eleanor immediately liked her, too. Juliette would bring her husband and kids over to their apartment to cook delicious meals. When Lang and Rosemary had their little tiffs, Juliette was always sympathetic but never took sides. “That is how it goes,” she would say with a little shrug and a smile. “Ah. You poor, poor idiot. You should know this by now.”
To Lang, Juliette is the ideal woman, the kind who will laugh in your face regardless of the little lines around her eyes and mouth or the garlic you had for lunch, with the hope that you’ll join her. Juliette makes the perfect mother. Among her other roles, she was brilliant as Jesus’ mother, Titian‘s muse, and Oberon’s queen. Not only was she perfect for the role of Edna’s pregnant friend but she also happened to be in the third trimester of her very real pregnancy with her third child when they shot this scene, which starts with an eyeful of Juliette/Adele’s enchantingly full figure clad in a frilly apricot silk dress, swooning back against the pillows on the divan with her blonde hair dripping down from its chignon and a fan busily flipping to cool her flushed cheeks. She appears to be in quite a bit of discomfort but smiles valiantly at her companion nevertheless.
Mae/Edna perches stiff and straight in tailored black on the wooden chair beside the sofa; she and her friend Adele are having an argument. This is at the end of the film, in the last scenes leading up to the finale when Edna drowns herself in the Gulf of Mexico. Edna has become estranged from her husband and children and has lost all interest in her art and hope in reuniting with Robert, whom she loves. She spends her days walking aimlessly around town like a sleep-walker, trying to discover meaning for her life. Edna insists, “But I would never sacrifice myself for my children or for anyone else. Perhaps I would give up the inessential, but not myself.”
A large portion of this chapter has been deleted.
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