The Kind of Women People Are Afraid Of
I had a feeling that something bad was going to happen, but everything
seemed so pleasant at first. I was at Lorna's place, a cabin in the
woods done up in back-to-the-land hippy style: worn Persian rugs, patchouli
candles, the works. We were basking in warmth from the fireplace
Lorna lounging on the rug like a Matisse woman, the cat, Isis, purring
in her arms, and I, curled up in an old easy chair when a blast
of cold air hit us. Joey, the last member of our get-together, had arrived.
She shut the door on the icy night and yelled from the hall, "Did
you hear that horrible thing about the cow?"
I braced myself. Isis crept under the couch.
Joey took her time slapping off snow and getting out of her parka and
boots. Finally, she came in and plopped on the couch. She's the only
person I know who can keep a straight back in a cloud of cushions. "On
the Becker farm," she said. "Hacked to pieces and left to
"How awful," I said.
"Awful? It's evil."
She had a sneering way of correcting you that could make you squirm.
Don't get me wrong; Joey's great. She's a travel writer and always game
for adventure. But she's also a tank: if you're in her way, watch out!
At least, that's how she was with me; she seemed a lot nicer with Lorna.
Lorna got up to make sure Joey had locked the door and returned to
her cozy spot before the fire. She's an artist. More laid back than
Joey but just as strong in a gentle way.
"We've got to watch ourselves," I said. "I heard two
women in the laundromat talking about some spooky thing that had happened
to a cow. I didn't know what they meant, but the next thing they said
was that Lorna looked like a witch."
"Me?" Lorna had little to do with folks in town and
thought no one noticed her. That's a laugh, I thought. There aren't
a lot of women with long, gray braids and gypsy shawls in a farm town.
"They actually called me a witch?"
"Not by name. They said, 'that woman who dresses weird.' They
also wondered what the three of us do up here."
That got Joey mad. "Who in hell's business is it what we do?!
How do they even know we're here?"
"It's a small town," I said, "Everybody knows everything."
"And we're from the city, we write, we paint, we live in the woods,"
Lorna sidestepped the sarcasm. "Who were they?"
"Just some locals."
I glanced at her painting over the mantel a goddess rising from
a phosphorescent haze and realized we could be in trouble. Serious
trouble. "We're the kind of women people are afraid of," I
said. "They used to burn women like us."
Lorna, sprawled before the fire, gave my foot a soothing squeeze. "Come
on, this isn't the Middle Ages."
"Besides," said Joey, "you always think someone's
Ping! She got me. But she was right. "Maybe it is just
a neurotic fear," I said, "but what if it's a premonition
of what's really going to happen?"
Lorna sat up. "That's the wrong question," she said, looking
deep into me. "What you should ask is, 'What do I choose
to have happen?'"
She was always reminding us that we create our own reality with our
thoughts. I believed that too sort of, but it made my head spin.
I mean, if our reality reflects what we think, can we make it better
just by thinking it's better?... Can we make it worse? And what's "real"
"Anyone need a massage?"
"Huh?" Lorna's words stopped me in mid-spin.
There was a table by the couch with a tarnished candelabra, a Tarot
deck, a can of dried-up cat food and a bottle of massage oil. She reached
for the oil.
Joey grinned. "Ooo yummy. My knees are killing me."
Her knees! I could have used a massage myself, but Joey was
already stretched out on the rug.
Lorna and I propped Joey's legs up with pillows and kneeled on either
side of her. While Lorna worked one knee, I tuned into the other. It
felt inflamed, so I imagined sucking heat out with my hands and grounding
it into the earth.