An introduction and fair warning.
It would be a good idea to read ‘The Dentist’ first, as there’s no overt rehash of that story here. Second, this is told as a series of entries in a diary so it is not constrained by linear thought. And last, remember this is Eugenie’s story. If Chase can forgive and still love her, maybe you could show a little compassion too.
It starts and ends with Chase as he opens, reads, and then comments on his wife’s diary.
Her Sequel to The Dentist.
Hello, my name is Chase McClendon. You may have heard or read about Eugenie the mother of my three daughters, and the woman I married and will love till the day I die. I got a surprise this morning; it seems Eugenie’s been keeping a diary. Well if anyone knows anything about Eugenie and me it certainly won’t surprise them if I decide to do a little eavesdropping. Let’s open this up and drop in on her...
This is entry number one: my first day.
OK, this is how I’m going to begin. For a few minutes I’m going to pretend I’m Edwin Booth; brother to John Wilkes Booth the man who murdered Abraham Lincoln.
Remember both brothers were famous stage performers. Right after Lincoln’s murder Edwin left the stage, and he stayed out of the public eye for quite a while. Later he went back to work; the house on opening night was packed. People wanted to see the brother of the man who murdered the president. Many wanted to lynch him. And what did Edwin do; he took a chair, and before the play was set to begin he went out on stage alone. All alone he sat down and let the audience yell at him, call him names, and throw things at him. He sat there all by himself and said nothing. Finally the people in the audience grew quiet; they began to realize Edwin was even more ashamed and more despondent about what his brother had done than they were.
The audience did finally quiet down. Booth went backstage and prepared for his performance. He played the role of Hamlet; a role that over the years he made especially famous.
That’s not all diary; a few years later while Edwin was starring in a play there was a tragic accident in the playhouse. Lincoln’s son was there, and his life was in peril. Well Diary; just guess who saved the boy? That’s right Edwin Booth saved Lincoln’s son’s life; the murderer’s brother saved the life of the murdered man’s son.
Entry two: it’s still the first day.
Sorry Diary I had to go and have a good cry. I’ve been crying a lot these past few months, but I’m getting better. Oh the guilt and shame is still vividly there, but I’m doing better. I’ve had help. I’ve had a lot of help. I’ve had Chase.
I know everyone hates me. I know what they think of me. They all think I’m the round heeled, two-faced, home wrecking, unfaithful, self-centered bitch who tore up everything Chase and I built. Yes, I destroyed my family. I was the cause of the loss of all our property. I’m the reason my three girls, my precious girls, have nothing; they don’t even have a bed of their own. I ruined my husband’s happiness. I destroyed everything. That’s why people hate me. I don’t blame them. I hate me too.
Well Diary, you’re my secret friend and hidden witness so I’m here to say that the Eugenie who did all those awful things is dead. Like John Wilkes Booth died in a barn in southern Maryland, the old Eugenie died while wrapped in her sweet, still loving, and unbelievably forgiving husband’s arms.
Like John and Edwin I’m here to say, even as John was the murderer and the destroyer, and Edwin was the rescuer; I, one time Eugenie McClendon nee Bonheur now Eugenie the ‘Worthless Nobody’ make these solemn promises. First I vow Eugenie the destroyer is henceforth now and forever dead, or she will be soon. Second I vow a new Eugenie will emerge from the ashes of the terrible heartbreak and destruction she created. I vow the new Eugenie will earn back the respect, love, and trust of her ex-husband and her three girls. And last I solemnly vow and swear the new Eugenie will find a way to restore her family to a position of good emotional and economic health. By Almighty God I promise I will do these things. I swear by Jesus and Mary his mother I will save my family. I promise I will restore what I destroyed.
Good night for now Diary. I’ll be back real soon.
Entry three: several days later.
I’m sorry I’ve been away almost a week, but I’ve been doing some serious thinking. I’ve begun to go to work too, not at a job though, I’ve started on something a lot more important.
I’ve been thinking about the ‘Old Eugenie’, what kind of person she was, and how I can confess my guilt and still retain the small fragments of ‘Old Eugenie’ that weren’t totally bad.
Well here goes; I’ve had to go back and give myself an honest appraisal, I’ve had to assess what I’ve been like, and why I’ve been that way. It’s like I’m Dorian Grey, and I’m looking at the awful portrait that shows my real self. I tell you I don’t like what I see.
I’m not going to try to blame anybody else for my guilt, but It’s my story, you’re my diary, and I can say what I want as long as it’s the truth.
OK, let’s get to the basics. First I’m not pretty. I have dark brown eyes, dark brown hair, and a very plain complexion. I guess I should be thankful I never had acne and I don’t have any of those awful hairy moles, but pretty I’m definitely not. Oh there are women with my general appearance; there’s Rachel Leigh Cook and Courtney Cox, they’re pretty, but me I’m just plain.
I remember when I first started to develop. Oh I got my period early enough, but that turned out to be a joke. All my girlfriends had moms who made a big deal out of it. They went out and bought the napkins and tampons. Their moms all had the long mother and daughter talk about boys and sex. My mom, no way; when I showed her my first blood spots she just shrugged. She gave me some money and told me what to buy. She told me to look up menstruation in a book, and about a week later she took me to the doctors, he checked me over, and handed my mom a prescription for birth control pills. For me, the doctor’s office was the big mother-daughter bonding moment. I’m not blaming my mom for what I became, but a little help and nurturing early on wouldn’t have been bad, more about my mom later.
I was late getting my boobs. Most of my friends were starting to shape up by the eighth grade. Not me; nothing showed up for me till the middle of the eleventh grade. It made sense I guess. I was in all the top classes in school; all the other girls in my classes were flat chested too.
So there I was, halfway through the eleventh grade, no boobs, no waist, no ass, short nondescript brown hair. I was so near sighted contact lenses wouldn’t work, and my parents were frugal so they didn’t think the more stylish wire frames were worth the cost. I ended up with thick plastic tortoise shell frames and thick coke bottle lenses. I was so self-conscious it hurt.
That spring was the junior prom. I so wanted to go to the prom. All my girlfriends had dates. I was desperate. There was one boy. He wasn’t a jock or anything, but he was a nice boy. He never made fun of me or called me names. Yeah I got called names. Believe me no girl wants to be called ‘Flatty Patty’ or ‘Patty Pancakes’. Heck my name wasn’t even Patty!
I started being extra nice to this boy. I went out of my way to sit near him in the cafeteria. He had a car, and I wangled a way to get him to take me home from school a couple of times. He was kind of shy, but about two weeks before the prom he asked me to go with him. Of course I said yes.
Against her better judgment my mom agreed to take me out to get a prom dress. She took me to one of the cheapest dress shops in the area; at least it wasn’t Walmart. I was so pleased; a real date in a car with a boy I sort of liked.
A couple days later I noticed the boy had started avoiding me. I knew what was coming but I asked him what was wrong anyway. He told me he’d changed his mind; he’d asked another girl to the prom instead of me. I thought well at least he was honest. When I went home and told my mom all she did was take the dress back. Was I heartbroken; well who wouldn’t be? I mean I cried some.
After that I climbed back in my shell. I never even tried to make friends with any boys. I went through the last of my junior year and all my senior as a complete recluse.
I’ve got to sign off for now. It’s close to 4:00 and the girls will be home soon. Chase gets home at 5:00, but he goes back out at 7:00 for his night job. He teaches night school. I want to clean myself up a little, fix my hair and put on some makeup. I’m not working right now. I stay home and take care of Chase’s mom. She’s pretty bad with Alzheimer’s these days. I want to be my best for my ex-husband. God Diary I love him so much!
Entry Four: 4:00 a.m. the next morning.
Good morning Diary. I guess by now you know I get up way ahead of everybody else. Chase’s mom will be awake pretty soon, so this will be I’m afraid the only time I’ll get to talk to you for a couple days. I wanted to say something about last night.
We had spaghetti for dinner. I made a special cake for dessert. I’m getting pretty good at cooking. I really like making pastries. I’ll probably get fat. We had dinner, and I got Chase off to his night job. I helped my girls with their homework, and tried to get them in bed before their dad came home. Chase’s mom was pretty easy last night. Sometimes she goes off, but last night she was OK.
.... There is more of this story ...