Mrs. Barrington, as seen by the neighbor's daughter is in her forties. Her streaks of grey are plenty and she makes no effort to cover them. In fact, most days, she doesn't do anything at all with her hair. She's kind of doudy and flighty. She lives at the end of the cul de sac in an adobe two story. Her grass is well kept, but her yard is really boring.
Mr. Barlow's daughter, as seen by Mrs. Barrington through her lace window curtains is in her midteens. Probably around forteen or fifteen. Not yet driving around the cul de sac. Long brown hair. An active stick of a girl, quick wit and a quicker smile. Mrs. Barrington wouldn't doubt that she's a straight A student.
As Mr. Barlow's daughter, I live with my Dad, Mr. Barlow. He tends to try to make funny jokes while I'm eating cereal for breakfast and clings to reading the daily news paper-- like he couldn't just look in his cell phone for the latest news. He's got a rumble that I associate with "Dad" and a he's a hearty laugher.
As Mrs. Barrington, I think we've just moved in. Or maybe we're getting ready to move out? I'm not really sure. There are boxes every where. Just the most absolutely necessary furniture is unpacked. My husband is in the military. I can't remember which branch. It doesn't really matter. He's hardly ever home. But Home is where the ARMY sends us!...or who ever it is.
And then Mr. Barrington is home! I know he's home. He leaves me notes and letters. Lists of chores and things to do...I can't remember his face. Have I seen his face? I don't know. But before this can upset or otherwise disturb me, I have to take care of the things on the lists. A good wife does what needs doing. And these lists take all day. As Mrs. Barrington, I fall asleep near exhausted at night.
Dad and Mr. Barrington are clearly becoming friends. Not that I've ever seen Mr. Barrington. I just know that Dad will tell me they're meeting at 8 pm. Sometimes he leaves me notes. They go out to the movies. Or just to hang out. Dad loves to finish his silly notes with smiley faces and tell me loves me. He says Mr. and Mrs. Barrington are going through a rough patch and he's trying to help him out.
I don't understand why his notes are getting mean. I'm doing everything in them. Most of the boxes are unpacked. Or are they packed? I can't remember. I don't remember if we're moving in or moving out. It seems like that might be important. But it doesn't matter. What matters is that I cleaned the kitchen tile until I could see my face reflected in it. But I don't think that's what Mr. Barrington wants. What the hell does he want? And what does he look like? Why can't I remember my husband?
Dad and Mr. Barrington spend most evening's together. I don't mind. I come home, do my homework and my chores. Two or three nights a week, I totally have popcorn for dinner. I wonder what Mr. Barrington looks like? Dad still tells me about their time together. Seems largely boring and full of 'man' things. Bowling. Talking about work. Totally not interested.
Mrs. Barrington had started to become suspicious. Is Mr. Barrington really spending all this time with MRS. Barlow? Is he cheating on me? No one could possibly spend every night with a guy friend...
Oh look! There's Mr. Barlow's daughter, taking out the trash! My husband's notes always say he's headed over to their house at 8 pm. I wonder if she's ever met him. I wonder what they do together.
And somehow, my two personas decided that moment was the right moment to meet. They actually struck up a friendship and would spend their evenings together. Reading. Baking. Mrs. Barrington is a wonderful baker! She taught me how to make a cake from scratch! The frosting too! Mr. Barlow's daughter is so clever and funny! She takes such ordinary things and makes them so exciting.
And then one day Dad announced that Mr. Barrington would be getting a divorce. The two of them would be commiserating it over a couple of beers and some fishing poles. He told me they were going fishing at 8 pm.
I head over to Mrs. Barrington's house and she's in the garage crying. She tells me that her husband told her he's leaving her. I head into the kitchen and there is a note from Mr. Barrington for his wife. All is says is, "I'm going fishing."
...But I realize that it's written in my father's hand writing.
And Mrs. Barrington suddenly has the same information that I do and wonders if her husband/ my father is living a dual life-- if he is mentally unstable, perhaps suffering split personalities.
And Mr. Barlow's daughter suddenly wonders if Mrs. Barrington is her birth mother and perhaps suffers dementia or schizophrenia and her father has been pretending to be two separate people in order to look after and care for both of us without telling me what has happened to my mother.
And as both personas crash and tumble the note swirls up, the words, "I'm going fishing" getting bigger and bigger. And I woke up with an image in my mind, that I leapt out of bed to start painting forty minutes before my alarm clock was scheduled to go off:
|"Barracuda" by Janin Wise. Prints available here.|