So I’m guessing Gone with the Wind was on television last night. I don’t have cable… and more to the point I was only interested in Mad Men in the brief hour of alertness I found at the end of my Monday after an exhausting weekend. But judging from the multiple posts and quotes on Facebook this morning, I’m guessing there was a broadcast.
I wrote a blog about my sentiments over the novel and film five years ago. Most of that hasn’t changed… except that I am back to writing the manuscript to which I alluded and getting inside the head of characters who might read this novel/view this movie differently. I also saw and read 12 Years a Slave which shed a completely different light on the glory of the ole South.
I wrote a scene set in 1939 to attempt a reconciliation of my 13 year old fan girl belief and my more critical view of race. I’m not sure where it fits now. I recognize some of the rough edges and incongruity to the latest round of edits. I’m not sure if it will be necessary to the overall narrative… as another scene I wrote may have more to do with what I hope to say. So maybe this will be its one chance for the spotlight.
Agnes peered down the hall and saw the reflection of Helen pursing her lips to get the right coating of lipstick. In the corner of the image she saw the person she sought imitating the motion.
“Evie,” Agnes took the steps down the hall. “It’s time for bed.”
“I want to finish helping Mommy get ready.”
“You will help her by getting in your pajamas,” Agnes met Helen’s grateful eye in the reflection as she reached out her hand to Evie.
“I will stop in to say good night,” Helen stared into her jewelry box.
“I wish I could go to the party,” Evie pouted with her reluctant steps into her bedroom.
“We can pretend you are dressing up,” Agnes pulled the pajamas out of the drawer.
“Like Scarlett O’Hara,” Evie’s eyes lit up excitedly.
“Fiddle dee dee,” Agnes laughed, remembering Ginny’s favorite quote from the movie.
“Fiddle dee dee,” Evie tossed her shoes off her feet. “Fiddle dee dee,” again as Agnes lifted the dress over her head and once again as the nightgown replaced it.
“Go brush your teeth,” Agnes picked up the dress and hung it in the closet.
“Fiddle dee dee,” Evie giggled again and picked up her brush. “Mammy, will you do my hair?”
“Evelynn Bradshaw!” Helen’s voice chilled the air.
“Yes?” the little girl dropped the brush, her hand trembling as much as her lip.
“What did you call Agnes?” Helen came into the room, behind Evie, forcing her with her stature to meet the angry brown eyes.
“We were playing Gone with the Wind. I’m Scarlett O’Hara,” Evie attempted a smile. “Agnes is my slave.”
“Agnes is not your slave,” Helen slapped Evie’s cheek. Both mother and daughter froze as the echo of hand hitting skin echoed soundlessly. Helen’s lip trembled as she slowly dropped her hand. Evie gulped in several deep breaths until they escalated into sobs.
“What’s the matter?” Andy froze when he saw his mother still standing as her arm fell.
“Evelynn was disrespectful to Agnes.”
“It wasn’t… I don’t mind,” Agnes reached for the sobbing little girl and then saw Helen’s face – beautiful and wild and cold.
“Put her to bed,” Helen’s heels were heavy on the carpeted hallway.
“Helen, we’re going to be late,” Andrew came up the stairs and paused, hearing Evie’s wails. He came in immediately and took her from Agnes’ arms. “Why are you crying Evie, darling?”
“Mummy is mad that I was playing Gone with the Wind.”
“She said you were disrespectful to Agnes,” Andy hung in the doorway.
“Your cheek is all red, Evie. What did you say to Agnes?”
“She was playing Mammy.”
Andrew glanced at Agnes. “Will you play again? Maybe Andy can be Rhett Butler.”
Andy shook his head and went into his room. “Will you let Agnes finish putting you to bed?”
Evie nodded her head reluctantly and crawled under her covers. Agnes listened to the footsteps that followed Helen’s heels.
“What just happened with Evie?”
“She called Agnes her slave.”
“Honestly, Helen. It was just a game.”
“I do not have slaves.”
“You read that book. You went to that movie. You know it’s just a story.”
“Agnes is not a slave.”
“What does this house do to you? You are an entirely different person when we come here. Sometimes… I don’t recognize you.”
“Are we going to the party or not?”
“Your eyes are red. Do you think that’s a good way to go to a party?”
“Helen, what’s wrong?”
“Then we’re staying home?”
“We’re staying home.”
Agnes looked down at Evie, frozen in the same attention to her parents yelling. “Agnes, will you call the Madison household and send our very sincere regrets but Mrs. Bradshaw is feeling unwell.”
“Yes,” Agnes agreed as Andrew picked Evie up in his arms and leaned against the pillows.
Agnes saw Andy’s open door as she left the room. She paused, but didn’t go in to turn him over. His shoulders were shaking, but he kept the sobbing silent.