Wayne slides one admiring hand across the Lilien’s antique maple liquor cabinet and swings the doors open: “Ta dah!”
“That’s a lot of booze.”
“Here’s a forty-year-old bottle. Want a taste?”
“No thanks.” Drew is still woozy from her lunch with Mae and sick with the thought of how she blathered on and on. Her head hurts and when she closes her eyes, visions of every cool girl she has ever known flit across her interior screen. Close-ups of blasé faces: the elevation of an eyebrow, the curl of a mouth, a sudden surfeit of white in the eye, deep sighs and monosyllables, all the minute clues Drew is always too busy leaning forward and acting clever and trying too hard to notice until later, when it’s too late.
Drew’s decline started when, pulling triumphantly away from the restaurant, she looked in her rearview mirror and saw the woman from the car behind get out and wave. She was an older woman, pretty, with curly black hair and dark sunglasses. She looked familiar, very familiar, and suddenly it clicked: It is her. It’s her! It’s my mother. Walking up to the driver’s side of my car. It’s her.
Drew could only grip the steering wheel and wait.
She had often wondered if her mother had run off to Hollywood. That’s what she had loved most after all, watching the old movies they’d show every afternoon on television. For years after her mother disappeared, Drew had stared at the little screen in the den hoping to find her mother in the commercial for laundry detergent or trying on shoes in the background of a sitcom, in the studio audience or as a game show contestant. Like the tingling of a ghost limb, her mother’s face is always there– the peripheral blur, the shadow in the background–and Drew is always finding her in store aisles and dressing rooms, staring until the waitress (or ticket seller or clerk) opens her mouth to speak and Drew registers the too-small nose or the olive tones in the skin and drops once again into the ordinariness of the moment.
So wouldn’t it be spectacularly perfect to run into her in Los Angeles? Hollywood-perfect.
Drew opened her car door and slid out to meet her. “Hi.”
The woman just grimaced. “Should we call the police or just exchange information?”
Drew’s laugh was verging on hysteric. “What do you mean?”
“You just backed into my car.”
A large portion of this chapter has been deleted.
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