Martha’s mother Marie has spent most of her life perfecting her facade…it is sometimes tiring. Especially when she bemoans her daughter’s less-than-perfect life. But she loves flashing back on her younger days and the joys of riding around in James’s convertible. Excerpting “Interior Designs.”
Spring was one of Marie Scott’s favorite seasons. It reminded her of her exciting youth—trips to the lake, driving around in a convertible with the top down, and kissing James. Theirs had been a passionate love affair from the beginning, although they hadn’t called it that back then. As high school students, they had had to focus on studies and social activities, while sandwiching in their stolen moments on nights when her parents were out of the house.
Marie had been the good girl in the family. So imagine her parents’ surprise when she turned up pregnant.
Now, all these years later, Marie still felt like the girl who had disappointed everyone. But she’d spent the next several years proving everyone wrong. She would have married James eventually anyway, so she made sure that she led an exemplary life afterwards. Just so anyone who might still remember her shame could realize that she hadn’t made a mistake after all.
So in March of the year 2000, Marie sipped coffee and thought about her day.
Lately she’d noticed something off about her daughter. She guessed it was perfectly natural, since Martha’s idyllic world had turned crazy. First with the infidelities and then the divorce.
Of course, Martha hadn’t confided any of it to her. Not while it was happening. Even afterwards, she’d been tight-lipped, but that was Martha. Always maintaining that perfect façade. Wasn’t she somewhat responsible for how her daughter had turned out? With her high expectations and her tendency to gloss over imperfections?
Shaking her head, she stood up and moved slowly toward the kitchen window. She loved her home, maintained mostly by their housekeeper Ramona, but at her direction. Way back in their early years, though, things hadn’t been so nice. She still gritted her teeth remembering the years they lived in that little trailer on her parents’ property. At least her own daughter had had a lovely guest cottage in which to begin her marriage.
Sometimes she thought that Martha was her own worst enemy. Was this, too, all Marie’s fault? She knew she wasn’t much of a confidante for her daughter. She’d been so caught up in her own relationship with James, worried that, if she didn’t spend every moment focusing completely on him, he’d leave. Had her children picked up on that?
Maybe she should do something about Martha now; perhaps she could spend more time with her, although how could they improve on that? They lunched together at least once a week, and sometimes they even played golf together. But that hadn’t been happening much lately. Was there a reason for that?
Before her mind could segue much further, Ramona appeared with a list, to check off the day’s activities.
By the time they’d finished, Marie’s thoughts had turned in a completely different direction and her daughter was the last thing on her mind. She had to make sure that her own perfect exterior stayed in place, that nothing could ripple the waters or create a tsunami in her world.