Snapshots: 20th Century Mother-Daughter Fiction

By Janet Berliner; Joyce Carol Oates | Go to book overview

An Ordinary Woman

BETTE GREENE

I DIAL the number that for more than twenty years has been committed to memory and then begin counting the rings. One . . . two . . . three . . . four . . . five . . . six -- Christ! What's wrong with --

" Newton North High School. Good morning."

" Jeannette? Oh, good morning. This is Amanda Brooks. Look, I may be a few minutes late today. Something came up -- no, dear, I'm fine, thanks for asking. It's just a . . . a family matter that I must take care of. I shouldn't be more than ten to twenty minutes late for my first class, and I was wondering if you'd kindly ask one of my students, Dani Nikas, to start reading to the class from where we left off in The Chocolate War? . . . Oh, that would help a lot. . . . Thanks, Jeannette, thanks a lot."

Aimlessly I wander from bookcase to armchair to table and finally to the large French window that looks out upon my street. Like yesterday and so many yesterdays before, my neighbor's paneled station wagon is parked in the exact spot halfway up their blue asphalt driveway. And today, like yesterday, Roderick Street continues to be shaded by a combination of mature oaks and young Japanese maples.

How can everything look the same when nothing really feels the same? Good Lord, Mandy Brooks, how old are you going to have to be before you finally get it into your head that the world takes no interest in your losses?

The grandfather clock in the hall begins chiming out the hour of seven and suddenly fear gnaws at my stomach. What am I afraid of now? For one thing, all those minutes. At least thirty of them that I'll have to face alone, here, with just my thoughts.

Calm down now! It's only thirty minutes. Why, the last thing the locksmith said last night was that he'd be here first thing this morning. "Between seven-thirty and eight for sure!"

-90-

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Snapshots: 20th Century Mother-Daughter Fiction
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page III
  • Contents V
  • Foreword VII
  • Introduction IX
  • Wicked Girl 3
  • Consuelo's Letter 14
  • Significant Moments in the Life of My Mother 24
  • The Allies 39
  • Cleaning Up 49
  • La Lloradora 65
  • An Ordinary Woman 90
  • Girl 95
  • Solitude 97
  • How to Talk to Your Mother (Notes) 125
  • Kiswana Browne 134
  • A Rose in the Heart of New York 146
  • Mousetrap 174
  • Up Above Diamond City 185
  • Eveyday Use 195
  • Death Mother 204
  • Everything Old is New Again 228
  • Contributors' Notes 235
  • Copyright Acknowledgments 241
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