Martina was looking at Callie.
Like a hummingbird flitting from flower to flower, Callie was moving from table to table, leaving a trail of infectious laughter that seemed to take form and bounce around like a pinball. She had everyone’s attention, which didn’t surprise Martina, and seeing her was like breathing a breath of fresh air.
As Martina watched, her mind was racing. Almost in a daze, she was wondering if she had made a mistake in coming there. Should she walk over to Callie? Would she speak to her? If she did, what would she say?
Her thoughts were suddenly interrupted when she heard a voice say, “well look who it is.”
Martina stood up and uncharacteristically gave Callie a hug. Callie hadn’t lost her sense of humor when she said, “you’re either drunk, or you’re lost.”
When Martina asked what she meant, Callie said, “you’re standing in The Middle Of Nowhere.” She smiled when she said, “pun intended. This is a little outside your milieu, isn’t it?”
Martina asked if she could sit and talk for a few minutes. Callie said, “I’m working, and then I have to study for a big test, but maybe…sometime.”
Martina was disappointed, but said she understood.
She had by default, more or less abandoned Callie. Her all but brief touch of rebellion had withered away with a whimper, and most likely in Callie’s mind, Martina had made her choice.
Callie had invaded her world, and now Martina wanted to invade Callie’s, but she wasn’t sure how. She was virtually unarmed.
Martina quietly walked out without a backward glance toward Callie. It was obvious that things were different. That special bond they once had seemed to be broken, and she had no one to blame but herself and possibly, unfairly…mother.
When Mr. Morton arrived with the car, she asked him to take her to Neiman Marcus, and wait for her.
When she walked in, it was like landing on foreign soil. She had never been in a store. A salesclerk walked up, introduced herself as Carmen, and asked if she needed help. Martina said, “yes.”
“What can I help you find?” Carmen asked. Martina smiled and said, “everything.”
Carmen laughed and said, “Okay. Are you looking for formal wear, or casual wear, or maybe lingerie?” Martina said, “I want what they are wearing in college. Blue jeans, t-shirts, and some kind of strange-looking footwear.”
Carmen again laughed and said, “so, you are looking for a complete wardrobe makeover?” Martina said, “yes. I want to walk out a completely different person than I was when I walked in.”
Armed with bags full of new clothes and shoes, Martina motioned for Mr. Morton to bring the car around. He said nothing as he loaded the items into the trunk, although she did catch a silent opprobrious look.
As soon as she got home, she put on a pair of jeans, an over-sized t-shirt and her brand new Doc Marten boots. When she went downstairs to the parlor, she asked Mr. Bradley to summon mother. With is familiar “harrumph,” he agreed.
Mother walked in and seemed to freeze in mid-step. “What is this? What are you thinking?” she asked. Martina said, “this is my new look.” Mother said, “not in this house. You will go back upstairs and put on your proper clothing.”
Martina stood up and said, “no. I won’t.” Mother was outraged. She said, “I shall speak to your father about this.” Martina said, “good. When you do, tell him that I enrolled in Balfour Community College. I begin classes in two weeks.”
Mother raised her voice and said, “I will not allow it! A community college? Can you imagine the shame you will bring on this family?”
For the first time ever, Martina raised her voice and said, “this isn’t about YOU, mother. It’s about me. It’s about what I want…not what you want, or what you think is going to be shameful. You can posture all you want, but I am eighteen and I can make my own decisions now. I will decide what I wear, what I do, if I go to college, and where I go to college.”
Later that evening, mother spoke with father and pleaded with him to dissuade Martina. “She has these grandiose ideas and she’s an innocent. She knows nothing of the world outside ours. That Callie creature started all this, and she is most certainly behind Martina’s sudden defiance.”
Father said, “we’ve talked about this before. Let her go to college, and I can almost promise you that she will be back home within the first month. If you try to stop her, she will resent you for the rest of her life, but if you support her, she will be grateful that you allowed her to have the chance.”
“But what will all of our friends say?” mother retorted. “I mean…Community College. How embarrassing is it going to be to tell them that our high society little girl is going to be mingling with the ‘great unwashed’?”
Father spun around and said, “don’t you and your friends volunteer at homeless shelters every Thanksgiving? I would call that mingling with, as you so delicately put it, ‘the great unwashed’.”
Mother sat down and said, “yes, that’s true, but this is going to be so very difficult.”
To be continued_____________