where she goes at night


Joy has been waking in the night and leaving the cabin, but she doesn’t know that I know.  She crawls out of her bed next to me at night, almost every night, and I wanted to know where she went. She always looks so pretty when she falls asleep, still in one of her peach or white slips with the lace on top and the thin little straps. In a sort of twilight, dreamy-headed way, I have been waking up to see her putting her dress back on and touching up her lipstick in the big mirror that rests against the outside wall of the cabin. There’s a small Coleman lantern hanging from a nail on the wall, and she lights it with a long match from the bureau drawer before she leaves through the screen door. As she leaves there’s a sort of orange white glow from the lantern, and it lights up her face and eyes and she looks beautiful. This has been going on for a week, as far as I know. That’s how long it’s been since I started making myself pretend to sleep instead of falling asleep.


Well, I made the mistake of telling Honey about Joy leaving at night and Honey wanted to see where she goes. She’s convinced that Joy has a secret beau that she meets in the woods, maybe one of the boys that she dances with at the Wonderland. There are boys from all over Knoxville and Asheville that are staying at the hotel with their parents, and I’ve seen them all looking at Joy and nudging one another in the arm as she walks by. Honey, who of course stays in the Wonderland all summer with her parents and brothers, has been paying attention very carefully to all of these boys, and makes a game out of picking out the most handsome one. She’s convinced it’s this certain boy named Reggie, who is the son of a man who owns a glove factory in Knoxville. She likes him because his skin is very smooth and has very white teeth. I don’t think he’s all that cute, too fancy looking for me. Joy usually ignores these boys, calling them a bunch of swaggering roosters. She dances with them because they’ve filled up her card and Mother says it’s rude to turn down a dance. I don’t think it’s rude, and I think Joy thinks she needs someone with lots of substance. Those boys in their fitted jackets and pressed pants at the Wonderland are nice enough to look at, but they don’t seem to have much in the way of intellect if you ask me.


Personally, I think the young, colored waiters are way cuter than any of the hotel boys. They move like water through the crowds of guests that are seated at the dining tables, with their jaws set and looking fine in their tuxedos. I’ve seen Joy looking at some of them out of the corner of her eye, though when Mother catches sight of her looking, she thinks Joy wants more tonic water or coffee or a napkin or something and calls one them over to our table.


Mother is usually in such a bit of a whirlwind mood in the evenings lately. I think the mountain air has gone into her brain and is kind of blowing around and clearing out all the cobwebs in there. All she seems to care about while we’re up here are the pottery classes she takes in the afternoons, watching the fireflies from the front porch at night, and going to bed early with a mug of milk warmed up on the cast iron stove and one of the books she brought. When Father comes in on the train on Friday nights she seems to perk up and wake up, but from Monday morning through Friday around lunch she is barely there at all.

2 thoughts on “where she goes at night

"... all my lovers were there with me, all my past and futures."

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