Trojan Women: A Love Story [sample]
by Charles L. Mee
ANDROMACHE emerges slowly from the huddled women, wearing torn Lagerfeld clothes holding a dead doll by one arm, that she treats with absent-minded casualness, letting it dangle at her side. The doll, a boy, is dressed in a little white jacket (dirtied), white short pants, white shoes. She is beautiful, remote, disconnected, a blown mind—not superficial or silly, but blown away and in shock. There is soft piano music playing.
I remember what it's been like
on a summer day
when the weather's so hot
you can't think what to do with yourself.
You keep waving your fan
but there isn't a breath of fresh air.
And then, just as you're thinking
to put your hand in a bowl of iced water
a letter arrives,
written on a sheet of fine
brilliant red paper
attached to an orchid in full bloom
and you think
how deeply your friend must feel
to have taken such trouble
on a suffocating day
HECUBA [going to embrace Andromache]
Andromache, dear, come to me.
Suddenly there came a flash of light. And then, I felt some hot mask attacking me all of a sudden. I felt hot. I lay flat on the ground, trying to escape the heat. I forgot all about my children for a moment. Then, there came a big sound, sliding wooden doors and windows were blown off into the air. I turned around to see what had happened to the house, and at one part of the ceiling, it was hanging in the air.
And you think:
just when I was in such despair
because my garden is torn up
all the flowers torn up
all the flowers
that you've come to think are
the most delicate parts of your own body
and other plants and trees you've put in your garden
thinking at first
you'd make a beautiful landscape
of living things
and then coming to see,
as they grew
and took their own ways
that you would have to let them go
that a garden is not a thing you can control
you can live within it
but finally you must let it go
and now to see what's come of it
I was facing toward the north when I noticed the flashing light. The flash was so bright, ten or a hundred or a thousand times brighter than a camera flash. It pierced my eyes, and my mind went blank. In a few seconds, the heat wave came. White clouds spread over the sky. It was amazing. It was as if blue morning-glories had suddenly bloomed up in the sky.
these living things
you've cared for,
crushed and trampled on
you can't bring this sort of thing inside
people have Sister Parish do their living rooms
with flowered sofas
and flowered draperies at the windows
and they can be torn down, too
ripped and burned
I deserved it
living all this time in such comfort
when you look around you
and you see others not so well off as you are
and now you think
I know how they've felt all these years
what would be the point of being born a woman
if you didn't know one day
the world would break your heart
there's nothing special about you
I remember there were Friday night dances
at the golf club,
and Aunt Rose would drive over in her little blue car
and look in on us,
to see how we were doing.
day some of us probably would get some coaching from her
I had my heels going in some funny way,
and she'd give me a demonstration of how I looked
and how to correct it.
The boys would be pumping their dates' arms,
and she'd show them how to dance smoothly.
Bobby was a terrible dancer for a while.
He not only pumped, he hopped.
Joe was probably even worse.
He danced like a longshoreman.
Aunt Rose tried to show him
and then gave up
and made him go to dancing classes.
And what, after all, is my reward
for having been a good wife
that some foreigners think I'll make a perfect slave
Not to say I haven't had a wonderful life
a life of privilege
other people would envy it
it had none of the glamor of Helen's life
Andromache, it won't do now to....
Every diet I've ever been on
I think I've entered in the proper frame of mind
And every morning at the clinic
I had an hour of acupuncture
and the needles would be left in
for the whole session while I did my relaxation
The enemas were a Saturday routine,
and I think my eating habits
underwent a revolution
Just the other day my trainer said to me
you're in the final weeks of a battle
that has been going on for a long time
and it seems you're going to win most
if not all that you set out to
You'll be allowed to keep
almost all the new territory and authority
that you've won for yourself
over the last year or two
and it will be seen by others as your property.
[she has begun to weep]
And what will please you even more
is you won't have to give up anything you started with.
That precious home base
that you were willing to die to defend
So the net result is that you've extended
what you can call your own.
there may still be some last minute concessions
to the other side to be made
but in general you seem to have proved
you can have your cake and eat it.
The world now sees you
as a force to be reckoned with
not only in your career
but most significantly
in your personal relationships as well.
I had a woman tell me
she is bisexual
and her friends began passing other women to her
She would charge $300 for two hours
a lot of money for most women
And she said most of them had saved up for it.
Most of them are experimenting, she said,
from young women in their twenties
to women of her mother's generation.
Before I go to an appointment, she said,
Women expect a massage and then oral sex.
Usually they never tell you what they want.
It's kind of assumed.
I massage her all over for maybe 20 minutes
and then slowly start to massage
her erogenous zones.
I always say,
if there's something you don't like
just tell me, and I'll stop.
Then I take off her pants
and ask her to turn over
I massage her front
and wait until I get a sign that she is ready for me
she may moan or touch me
and then I start kissing her pubic area and thighs.
Everything happens slowly
and she has plenty of warning about
what is going to happen
Some women are just very lonely
or sexually frustrated
and they aren't the type to pick up a man
in a bar.
They wouldn't call a male escort
because they don't want a strange man in the house.
It's easier for them to trust a woman.
I don't think they see sleeping with a prostitute
as a dirty thing like men do.
Their attitude towards me
makes it very different
from sleeping with a man.
So, while I stayed home
a faithful wife
when it comes down to it
we all make our bargains
although Helen knew right from the start
you might as well take the risk
knowing how it will end in any case
So she ends up with a nasty reputation
but a good life
And I can't help myself from thinking
if I'd known
there were other things I meant to get
things I would have liked
if I'd known it was going to end so soon.
When I was a girl
I had a horse I loved so much
I wanted to take him right inside me
or suck his cock.
And I would have done it, too,
if I hadn't been so timid.
Or I'd have hung myself in the bathroom
things I didn't do because I was afraid
put a rope around your neck
to get a more intense feeling
wear pants and a necktie
stand on a chair and hang from something
while you use some cream and a vibrator
I was always afraid I'd slip and fall
but when you think about it now
I might as well have run the risk
Or had myself wrapped up in Saran wrap
I always thought it would be just like a cocoon
covered up and warm
helpless and exposed
all at once
Or have a man kiss me
between my legs
while he had ice cubes in his mouth
Surely, this is not....
you musn't put a drink to your lips
when you have food in your mouth
or you may leave a particle of food in your drink
or make a mark on the rim of your glass.
Or, if you bring a piece of food to your mouth with your fork
it is thought nowadays that the tines should be pointing down, not up.
One musn't dunk a donut or a cookie in public.
Nothing may be spit out,
however surreptitiously, into a napkin,
not even a bad clam.
Olives are put all at once into the mouth.
Would you sign a letter Mrs. R.C. Jones?
Or Mrs. Robert Jones?
You would sign it with your maiden name
or your married name,
such as Marion Jones
and then, in parentheses,
if the person to whom the letter is addressed doesn't know this,
one could write Mrs. R.C. Jones.
[A telephone receiver is heard. It continues throughout the following.]
And a widow,
if she wishes
may entertain a gentleman friend for a weekend
if she is more than 30 years of age
and if her children are present in the house
although every woman
should value her reputation
and conduct herself in such a way
that she does not make a public display
of her very private life.