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Day 5

Green Water, Green Sky by Mavis Gallant

Reading: Finish Chapter 2

August 24, 2020 by Elliott Holt

August in Paris is empty and quiet. Alone in the apartment, after everyone has gone away on vacation, Flor closes all the shutters. (The same shutters that Bonnie opened, letting in the present.)

Doris is like Alice, visiting wonderland, but Flor has to live with the madness.

“She opened cans of soup in the kitchen and she never washed the saucepan or the cups. She took clean dishes from the cupboard each time, and it was like the Mad Tea Party.”

Two years earlier (in Chapter 1), Flor told her cousin George that “I’m not a person who breaks things” but this scene makes George’s memory seem reliable.

“For two days she sewed this dress and in one took it apart. She unpicked it stitch by stitch and left it in pieces on the floor.”

“…so now I am going home. I am not going away but home.” Doris, unlike Flor, has a place to go back to in the States. She has an enviably straightforward notion of “home.”

Doris’s letter to Flor says, “All children eventually make their parents pay, and pay, and pay.” It makes me think of Philip Larkin’s poem, “This Be the Verse.”

The imaginary animal that Flor has long blamed for her inner torment swims out to sea, while Flor “left the sea behind.” This splitting of self is surreal and disturbing. Is this the suicide that Doris feared?

“At the edge of the sea, the Fox departed.”

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