Coffee cup, Apple, Egg roll from Anne
I'm watching an old movie version of Our Town
on the Turner Classic Movies channel. It was
filmed in 1940 in black & white. But, I see colors,
the colors of skin and auditorium seats and coffee
cups sitting on my table. I'm Mrs. Gibbs, again,
preparing breakfast for my family. George and
Rebecca are upstairs getting ready for school
and my husband is just coming in the door from
delivering twins. Already I can feel my throat
tightening up. Everything looks so normal
like a still life painting of a bowl of apples. So
red and healthy, now, but if they stay there too
long, they'll begin to die. I know what is coming.
And I know I'll cry. I anticipate every line before
the actors say them. "The moon is so terrible."
Yes, Emily, life can be terrible, but first you have
to have a soda with George and marry him
and go to live on his uncle Luke's farm and have
a baby before the terrible part, before you'll join me
in the cemetery. There's George standing
in the rain at your funeral and here you are
with us. There's Simon Stinson, the choir director
and your brother Wally whose appendix burst
while on a camping trip to Crawford Notch. You
aren't ready, though, to join us. You want to go back
so you pick your twelfth birthday....wait, in the movie
it's your sixteenth. I guess they couldn't make
you look like a twelve year old. Okay, I can go with it.
You are still so frustrated that your folks won't really
look at you. You notice all the little things but you
aren't Paulette Demers in the Berlin High School
production. You aren't packing the same emotional
punch that she did. My goodness, there wasn't
a dry eye when she whirled around..."and new-ironed
dresses"...just the tears in her voice had grown men
sobbing. "Do people really appreciate life every, every
minute?" No, they can't. It would hurt too much.
So you rejoin us and take your chair in the cemetery
But, hold on, the movie isn't done. It fades back
to the childbirth scene where you die, but you don't.
You don't die. You're snuggling with your new baby
and George is smiling. What? You don't die?
You're supposed to. In my play you do. What kind
of a lesson do we learn if you live? Life always has
a happy ending? I'm not even crying; I'm too mad.
How dare they? I turn the TV off then bang pans
and cupboard doors while making breakfast. That end-
ing was as wrong as Ma Gibbs serving her kids egg rolls.