Thursday, December 6, 2012

Thursdays with Lillian

Hello everyone! I don't think this schedule thing is working out quite right. I will promise three blog posts a week though, two of those being Monday Memoir and a Q&A sesh. I had a four page long math assignment consisting of a myriad of problems. Needless to say, blogging was not my first priority. We started reading Moby Dick in English and it's really not that terrible. Don't feel discouraged at the bad rumors or the the length. Perhaps I'll share my own personal reflection of the first chapter in a later post. My teacher is making us write reflections/passage analyses on each and every single chapter. That's 135 pages of my thoughts. My teacher is really ambitious. I would not want to read 20-something of these each night. She assigned us two yesterday. 

Anyways! You're probably looking forward to seeing how far Lillian's life has progressed since you last met her. She has her own tag now! Isn't that exciting? 
May 2004. 
Lillian watched the graduation happening from the sidelines. Sarah had brought some cold apple cider and they were all alone. Sarah had never really gotten over that guy who had decided to stand her up. Proud parents were sitting the bleachers clapping obnoxiously for their children. Would her parents ever do that? She doubted it. Sarah seemed to be thinking the same thing. Bethany had already shaken the dean’s hand and her fingers clung on firmly to her shiny diploma. She had even waved over once. Lillian wondered where Alice was. After graduation, everyone just sat around with the senior class. Last minute balloons were taped on to tables and teachers and other administrators had already gone home for the most part. The dean turned a blind eye when the whisky came out from somewhere. Lillian didn’t feel much like celebrating especially since she was one long train ride from being home. 
“Let’s go,” Sarah said eyeing her nervousness. Lillian nodded and they snuck away. There were no words shared between them as Lillian packed up her existence away in a suitcase and Sarah stared at her with such sad eyes. 
“I’ll see you next year?” Sarah asked. 
“Probably,” Lillian said with a faint smile. The next morning, she took a cab to the train station. She had left without waking Sarah, or saying goodbye. She didn’t have very many clothes but she changed out of her school uniform into jeans and a plain t-shirt. It was cold since it was the early morning and she reluctantly kept her school blazer on. The train station was busy and parents dragged her sad, howling children by the cuffs of their shirts. Lillian drifted in between the throng of people. She purchased a ticket with the money her mother had sent her and she sat down on the dirty wooden bench.  
“Ye want to try one?” A homeless man approached her and it smelled like he hadn’t showered in three years. She hadn’t even looked at what he was offering her. Lillian crinkled her delicate face and shook her head politely. The man shrugged and moved on to the next set of people on the bench. She slept on the train and tried to feel positive. She sat next to an old grandmother who was busily knitting and only opened her eyes when the beverage cart came along. She didn’t order anything but it was interesting to see what other people were doing. The young couple sitting across from her was trying to soothe their baby while the heartbroken man ordered a gin and tonic.  There was an upright gentleman who ordered a scotch and looked down at his financial magazine. She had always wanted a father like that. Her father was always so occupied in isolation. His life and mind were buzzing with inspiration and ideas but none of them were so kind of include her. Maybe Mr. Harold Livingston wouldn’t be that bad. Maybe her mother would even want her to come live at home again. 
“Lillian, so glad to meet you,” Mr. Harold Livingston said at the train stop. Her hair was tied up in its usual ponytail and he had never met such a conservative child. 
“Nice to meet you to,” she said showing no emotion. 
“Lilly, you’re here,” her mother said almost with a tone of disbelief. Mr. Harold Livingston was an older man, maybe in his fifties. He was almost thirty years older than her mother. He had silvery gray hairs but a clean shaven face. Her father never shaved, only when the relatives came over would he care about how he looked. 
“Who’s that?” 
“Zinnia, meet Lillian,” the older man said. Zinnia was roughly about her mother’s age. She was proudly smoking even when her mother shot Zinnia a glare of disdain. Zinnia was tall and bony. She had long honey brown hair that was tied in a bushy bun. She was wearing red jeans and a long white sweater even though it was almost summer. A thick scarf wrapped her neck and the only sliver of skin showing was her feet tucked into a pair of greenish blue ballet flats. Zinnia nodded her head in acknowledgement. She had some glow of glamour that Lillian had never seen before. Lillian wondered how and why her mother had married Mr. Harold Livingston. It didn’t seem like he was from exuberant wealth or had anything worth taking. 
They went out for pizza that night. After Mr. Harold Livingston asked all the preliminary questions, he stopped talking to her. There was something about her that dug into his skin and conscience. Her mother said nothing more about Lillian and proceeded to ask about Zinnia as a sign of respect. This was equally unnerving since Zinnia was only a couple of years younger than she was. 
“Harold, you didn’t tell me you had a daughter.” Her mother’s voice was hushed but Lillian and Zinnia still heard each and every word. He had picked up their home phone on a Friday morning, in April. What did he have that made her mother crawl to him?
“I said I had a surprise, Miriam.” Lillian felt a little shiver running down her spine. When was the last time her mother had been addressed as Miriam? 
“You meant Mire, Harold. I’ve told you that my name is Mire. Your twenty-two year old daughter was my surprise?” Her mother was twenty-eight, would be twenty-nine in the fall. Judging from that tone, they weren’t married yet and her mother was seriously reconsidering. 
“Do you have a problem with me, Miriam? My father certainly does.”
“Don’t butt your head in to this, Zinnia. Mire, Miriam why don’t you like that name? It’s lovely.” Her mother ignored his try for peace.  
“What college do you go to again?” Lillian saw Mr. Harold Livingston take a sharp intake of air. 
“I’m a writer. I dropped out of some city college in California.”
“Stanford is not a city college,” Mr. Livingston said almost ready to slap Zinnia. 
“Whatever, thanks for the pizza.” Zinnia abruptly stood up and left. “Don’t call me again, Dad.” Just like that. Mr. Harold Livingston drove them back to their New York penthouse. He gently set Lillian’s suitcase on the sidewalk right next to the door attendant. He kissed her mother’s forehead and drove off. It seemed to signal some sort of goodbye. The Livingston family was never talked about again. 
“Mom, are we seeing him again?”
“No, sweetie, never. Go off to sleep now.” It was only nine o’clock. Lillian rolled her suitcase to her room and thought about calling Sarah. She decided against it and feel in a deep, long slumber. 
June 2004. 
It had been three years since the last summer at her grandmother’s house. There was no where to go anymore to escape the dull, dreary life she had at school or with her parents. She was half way across the States at her father’s home. It was a wretched RV with one working bathroom and two makeshift rooms. There was barely any furniture and she wondered what her mother would have said about his living arrangements. The room that she was supposed to live in was the extension of her father’s room. It used to be the closet. A small cot was hung from side to side and there was an old bookshelf. Nothing else could fit in her new room. Her favorite part of the room was the window. It was barely functioning with its white paint peeling and its hinges rusted. However, when she could get it to open just right, there was nothing better than that ocean breeze. She felt the balminess of her skin in the ocean air and the salty taste in her mouth. She had never been near a real, warm ocean before. 
She flown here on the first day of June. It was her first time on an airplane. She was escorted by a very nice flight attendant who sat next to her for most of the ride. Miss Anderson, her flight attendant, was one of the kindest and most considerate people she had ever met. She treated Lillian with such respect that even her own parents did not treat her with. She was to spend the rest of the summer in Los Angeles, until August 21 when school started again. There was no mention of moving her back home or into another school. 
“I missed you daddy,” she said as the plane had landed. He nodded and kissed her cheek. He looked a lot younger here. “Are you married?”
“God, no,” he said with a little laugh. They went home by cab. Her father didn’t own a car, only a beat up bicycle. She was still daddy’s little girl all the way out here in Los Angeles. He had become more relaxed and less uptight about everything. They had the cheap, cardboard pizza every night and sometimes he ordered bread sticks too. His life continued whether she was there or not. He still wrote religiously from 10 in the morning to 4 in the afternoon. They would have their daily chats after he stopped writing and before he ordered pizza. He would take her along when he had a few scheduled meetings with a publisher. She would sit outside and look at the skyscrapers on the West Coast. On other days, she would play outside the RV with Bernt, the girl next door. Bernt was eight too but wore different scars than the ones that Lillian had. Bernt was from another country. Lillian couldn’t remember where but she remembered hearing about it in her geography class. Bernt’s parents were dead poor who lived day to day worrying about what they were going to eat. It wasn’t in their custom to divorce but Bernt said they argued a lot and she left the house because of all the noise. Bernt never said it but she did find it odd that Lillian’s father was able to write all day long. Her father worked in one of the factories three miles away from the glamour and glitz of the main city. Her mother watched Bernt and her three little brothers. 
“Daddy, I’m going to play with Bernt,” she said after eating cereal. Bernt had promised to show her where the tadpoles were. 
“Don’t play with that girl, Lil,” he said strictly. He even looked up from his computer where his fingers had just been typing away furiously before. “She’ll lower your values. Look, your English is already getting worse.” 
“Daddy,” Lillian tried again but her father wouldn’t budge. 
“Anyways, I have a meeting today so you’re coming. I’m pitching a big screenplay. Wouldn’t you be proud if your daddy wrote a movie?” Lillian nodded her head but wished she was out with Bernt. They left in another cab and she was wearing one of her nicest summer dresses. 
“You wait here. I love you, Lilly,” her father said. He was holding a briefcase and was wearing a suit. He even had shades on. She smiled. He seemed like the father she had in New York, before he left her at boarding school. Except, he never said “I love you.” People could change for the better. Lillian sat at the lobby of the huge office building. She hugged her knees on one of the professional looking chairs. 
“How old are you?” A lady asked her. The lady was tending to a small baby while smiling. 
“I’m eight,” she said with a smile. The lady nodded and looked back to her baby. The baby that had been smiling was suddenly frowning. Its lip was quibbling and Lillian wondered how her own mother was doing. Was she even missing Lillian? Her father came back an hour later with a manila folder under his arm. The lady had left a while ago and she had been left all alone. Wasn’t her father worried that she could’ve been kidnapped? 
“Lilly, c’mon, we’re leaving,” he said sternly even though she was already racing behind him. “You’re behaving like a little monkey.” 
August 2004. 
Her father rented a car in July. It was an old rusty car like everything else her father owned but it was their car, at least for a month, and she loved it. She would always turn on the radio as loud as it could go and her father would let her sometimes. Her father was writing for a small television show but she knew how much of a big success this was. He always showed her the little paychecks he got once a month. Paydays meant ice cream and day trips. They went to the beach almost every day week. Her father said he wrote best when the ocean waves were rolling in by his feet. 
“Lillian, where do you want to go today?” He asked gently waking her up. He rolled up the blinds and harsh streaks of sunlight streamed in her otherwise dark room. They went to the zoo yesterday and the museum the day before that. Lillian heard the obnoxious ringing of her father’s phone. Was it his agent?
“Hello? Yes, Mike Pritchard speaking.” He made some hand gestures that he would come back but left the room nonetheless. She laid back down on her cot head first. There was no room for a bed but there was now a soft downy blanket covering the rough exterior of the cot. She just wanted to spend time lazing around their RV with Bernt. She hadn’t seen Bernt at all actually. Lillian yawned and changed into some shorts and a tank top. Her feet naturally found their way to a pair of flip flops. She slipped out the front door without her father noticing. She glanced at his facial expressions and it was definitely a business call, one that would take a long time. 
“Bernt?” She asked once she hopped down to the ground. 
“Lilly! I missed you!” Bernt wrapped Lilly in a hug. 
“I missed you too, B,” she said affectionately. “I’m leaving in one week.” Bernt nodded and started to chatter about the creek and the tadpoles. 
“The last time I was at a creek, I was five and with my grandmother,” Lillian said with a sad smile. Bernt dragged her along until the RV trailer park was no longer in sight. They ran as fast as their legs could take them. They left society without glancing back. 
“I’m hungry,” Lillian said a few hours later. They had been lazily playing around the stream and both of their clothes were sopping wet.
“Let’s go home,” Bernt said readily standing up. It was maybe four or five in the afternoon. They scrambled home wearily. The joy of returning was far less great than the joy of leaving. Lillian returned to an angry father. 
“Where were you Lillian?” He shouted. Something told her that the phone call didn’t go well. 
“Out,” she simply replied. She squeezed past him into the front door and sat down on her cot. 
“Lillian Willard Pritchard! Where were you?”
“I was at the creek, daddy,” she said matching his tone. He nodded and left with no other words said. 
Lillian didn’t see Bernt again. She kept waiting and waiting on the front porch for Bernt to whisk her off to somewhere, anywhere away. Bernt never came and Lillian was soon carted off on another plane back to New York. Her father didn’t mention Bernt or that adventure ever again. It was tucked into her memory and zipped up so that it could never come out again. When she did return to New York, her mother glanced her over and sent her immediately away to that horrible boarding school. She cried on the train ride suffering from her loneliness. Sarah was not at school when she arrived and she wondered who her roommates would be this year. 
December 2006. 
Lillian hadn’t wanted to leave the boarding school but it was the Christmas holidays and her mother said she had had good news on the telephone. Lillian had grown another good five inches and she was one of the tallest girls in her class. Her jet black hair was still worn in a strict pony tail and she had made a few friends. Lucia Mott was a quiet and shy girl who did nothing but study. They were friends just by sitting at the same table in the library after classes. They lived in the same dormitory too. It was December 22 and Christmas was around the corner. The last day of school was today and they had a three week break. The first snow had fallen and everyone was wearing thick winter coats and longer cotton socks. Pants were part of the uniform even if there was no logic behind it. 
“I heard you’re leaving this Christmas,” Lucia said with a smile as they walked from the library. The library closed at six so that it could send the librarians home. In the past couple years, she and Lucia huddled in the one open dormitory watching Christmas movies with all the other students who weren’t fortunate enough to go home. The heaters barely functioned and none of the staff was around. They would have endless snowball fights until their noses became red and their fingers frigid with cold. For breakfast, lunch, dinner it would any scraps of food that could be found in the kitchen. Instant noodles, bread, and canned soup were among many of the common finds. In the evenings, everyone would tell stories that bashed their family while doing puzzles or chess. Lillian had joined the cast of outsiders but she loved the idea of fitting in. 
“Unfortunately,” she said with a little chuckle. When they entered the dormitory, everyone was in a frantic rush to be out of there. Suitcases lined the hallways and clothes were flung from every direction. Girls on every floor were screaming about the proper identification of hair curlers and bottles of nail polish. Lillian followed Lucia down the hallway and took a right towards Lucia’s room. They always hung out in Lucia’s room. “Are you staying here?”
“Of course.” Lillian knew rather little about Lucia. She knew that Lucia started attending this school, her third, since 2005. She didn’t know anything about her family or where she was even from. Lillian left with the crowd of girls all dolled up to see childhood sweethearts or impress their long lost aunts. Lillian was still wearing her school uniform with the ratty winter jacket she found in the lost and found box. It was an almost unbearable train ride home with the seats brimming full of gossipy teenage girls who just couldn’t keep their mouths shut. She took a cab home and knocked on the front door. It was about five or six in the evening. It was dark out and Lillian wondered why none of the lights outside were turned on. 
“Dear,” her mother fawned over her. They were almost the same height. Lillian had never been embraced by her own mother and she felt awkward in such tight contact. “Welcome home!” The door swung open to reveal a middle aged man in his pajamas and a ditzy blond girl. Why was that every time she came home to her mother’s house this happened? 
“Meet Gerald and Stacy,” her mother said and the man, Gerald stood up. Her mother planted a kiss on his cheek and they looked, happy. 
“Which one is Gerald?” Lillian replied back. Her mother glared at her. 
“Stacy, dearest, would you show Lillian her room?”
“It’s my room too, Mom,” Stacy replied. Lillian wouldn’t have ever guessed that Stacy didn’t belong here. She was yet again an outsider in her own house. 
“Hi, I’m Lillian.” 
“I’m Stacy. Gerald is my dad.” Lillian nodded her head. She took off her jacket and lined her suitcase in the corner. A sleeping bag was already furled on to the floor. Lillian didn’t have to ask who would be sleeping there. 
“Do you live here?”
“No, we’ve been staying for a week since my winter break started.” 
“Could of fooled me,” Lillian said with another sigh. “Did Gerald marry my mother?”
“You wouldn’t have missed the wedding, right?” 
“Am I even invited?” 
It was weird for Lillian to spend Christmas with Stacy and Gerald. Gerald had gotten her a black ski mask and she wondered for what purpose that action had been done. After presents, early Christmas morning, Lillian left the family room to phone her father. 
“Daddy,” she said into the receiver.  
“Merry Christmas, Lilly. I love you,” he said with joy in his voice. 
“Are you doing something this year?” 
“I landed my first movie deal. I wanted to tell you first, sweetie. When you visit this summer, we won’t stay in an RV. We’ll stay in only the best five star hotels and eat food that celebrities eat. Maybe you can meet some of your favorite stars.” She knew her father was getting ahead of himself. 
“That’s great, Dad. I’ll be looking forward to it.” There was that inescapable hollowness in her voice. 

I'm sorry it jumps around a bit. And I changed the years to make her a bit older. I hope you enjoyed! 

1 comment:

  1. Hey Youngjoo.. I have an award for you over at my blog, so come and look if you're interested!