This is chapter 65 of The Matriarchy, a serial fiction novel on FITK
Emily and Sean and Mary were standing in the elevator lobby of the Hotel Winneshiek, in front of an old theatrical backdrop that was hanging there. They had left Virginia and come to Decorah, Iowa to meet with Sean’s Aunt Tina and Edwin Duddle. Tina was reluctant to meet them at Edwin’s apartment, suggesting that they meet at the hotel restaurant instead. She had been staying with Edwin ever since the armed trespasser on her farm had been struck by lightning. The local police downplayed the incident, but Tina had met with the FBI and she knew that it was somehow related to Sean and Mary.
“I remember this backdrop,” said Emily, “It was for a play about the life of Moses. I saw it here, upstairs in the old opera house, just before I left for New York for the first time,” said Emily, “It seemed so exotic at the time. Seeing that play… that was when I met John. John Regelind the first, that is. I had won an art contest for the local paper and they gave me a box seat where I could do sketches of the play—for use as illustrations in a feature article. John was in town on business and had a seat in the same box. He was impressed by my ability and, after we talked at intermission, by my personality as well. It was his idea that I should go with him to New York—he said he had connections there—and could set me up with magazine editors and gallery owners,” Emily said, “He set me up all right.”
“I got to New York, became his mistress, and he got me an apartment in Greenwich Village just couple blocks away from Washington Square. John lived on Lower Fifth Avenue, in the ritzy section. It was a short cab ride to my place. The Village was a wild place then: a lot of Bohemians, artists, radicals, visionaries.”
“That’s when you began to collect your book of spells?” asked Sean.
“Yes, throughout the twenties. I got them from a variety of sources. They were mainly from fortune tellers, gypsies, and other seers. Most of them were from eastern Europe and Scandinavia, but a few came from the Caribbean and Africa as well,” Emily said, looking directly at Mary, “We practiced our magic in secret, I learned what worked, what didn’t work, and what was too dangerous to use.”
“When did you first become aware of your powers?” asked Mary.
“I was very young. My mother often spoke to me about my grandmother and warned me about how she had ended up in an asylum. I learned to keep my mouth shut.”
In Edwin Duddle’s apartment, Tina was having second thoughts about the meeting with Emily at The Winneshiek. She was at the sink in the bathroom, putting on her make-up. When she picked up her lipstick, she noticed that her hand was shaking.
“I’ll just leave it at a little powder,” she said to herself, then walked out to the bedroom, where Edwin was struggling with his tie, “Let me help you with that,” she said. Edwin’s hands were trembling as well.
“I don’t know if I can go through with this,” said Edwin.
“Tell me about it,” said Tina, straightening his tie, “I’ve always had some resentment about the way she left me, twice. But there’s no use in trying to rewrite the past. We’ll go and be civil adults. Her revival is a miracle and we should make the most of it. When Sean called me from Virginia and said that Emily was alive and that they were going to bring her to Decorah I simply refused to believe what I was hearing. It will be hard for her, too. When she left us we were young, and now… ”
“Now we’re old. What do I have to show for my life?” said Edwin. “A bad back, arthritis, wrinkles, living above a junk shop.”
“You have got me, Edwin. And I have you,” said Tina, “Sharing a life with someone else is a situation a lot of people would like to be in. She won’t begrudge us our happiness.”
“I suppose you’re right, although that won’t erase my memory of what happened then,” Edwin said.
“It doesn’t matter anymore,” said Tina, “Your memories have a life of their own. Let them go.”
Sean and Mary were standing in the front lobby when Tina and Edwin walked in. Emily was in the Ladies Room.
“Edwin, Tina, so good to see you!” said Sean, embracing Tina, then shaking Edwin’s hand. “Emily will be out in a minute.”
“I’m so happy that you came back,” said Tina, “After all you’ve been through, I thought I’d never see you two again.”
“It’s been… interesting,” said Mary, “This is the beginning of a happier time.”
“Those men… ?” asked Tina.
“The Brotherhood? They’re gone. Blown to bits. The FBI said there were explosives stored in the building where they were meeting. Something, perhaps lightning, triggered a massive explosion,” Mary said, “They had been under investigation for some time and were on the verge of being arrested anyway. You probably didn’t hear anything about it—it was kept secret in the name of national security.”
Emily entered the lobby where she saw the group waiting. She walked up to Tina and said: “Forgive me.”
Tina burst into tears as they put their arms around each other.
“Mother,” said Tina.