There was a modest house made of stone. For many years a little girl lived there and her name was Bailey. Owned by the country club, it was always rented to the club’s manager and enjoyed the magnificent view that restored the club members after their efforts at tennis and golf.
The stone house was lived in hard by the Bailey family. Their passions were contemporary and expressed in dreadful noise. Imperious, promiscuous, drunk, Georgie Bailey challenged her husband’s authority and engaged her children in a troublesome intimacy. At night while the family slept, the rooms of the house endured the outrage as tradition commanded. The shame of the husband and the children’s fear was absorbed in stoical silence until the previous year, when the child they all loved had gone.
In its two hundred years of life the house had never felt the like of Bailey’s appreciation. In her joyful presence the manager’s house had felt as grand as the clubhouse for all its antique grandeur and its sovereign hilltop site. Now the loom of its ornate bulk was resented as insult, even menaced as the child’s exile continued from month to month.
Except for Bailey’s bedroom, each night was passed in murmurous regret. No paint job, no repair or new decoration could touch the rejuvenation the child’s return might bring. Inevitable as the coming dawn, the silence of the child’s retreat frightened the other rooms to plead. Surely, as much as its neighbors, her bedroom must want Bailey back? Abuse rang in the steady silence. Loyalty to the human who sought its shelter was what distinguished a room from an empty box. What was the corner bedroom anyway, a square of brutish matter?
To suffer the injustice of gross misinterpretation was easier than the terror of the spoken truth. If it could, Bailey’s bedroom would have its denunciation last until the dawn brought the shapes of the furniture out of the dark and the glider hanging from the ceiling turned from black to blue.
Day and night the glider slowly turned until the resistance of the wound-up string made it circle the other way. “Bailey,” said the white letters down one of its sides. Each wall was silently informed as the glider spun.
Whether it was filled with sun, or the pearly light of an overcast day, the room enjoyed the memories that the revolving name brought forth – the child’s short life played like a movie on its four walls.
But at night, the slow circling of the glider was unnerving; the waves of its movement broke on the walls of the room like the obstinate impulses of an obstructed memory. For all the dark repetition there was such effort. Such fear. The dawn was respite. The parade of noisy hours, the quick shadows of birds on the walls cheered the room. Only in the late afternoon did it regret the laws that sent the earth and glider spinning.
No, it didn’t want her back.
The pain of memory was enough to fear; but to actually feel again the misery that seeped off the child as she turned on the television set, and – gulping vodka from her stashed bottle – welcomed another afternoon on Bailey Street, was as dreadful to anticipate as an attack of fire.
The soaps, the family shows, even the cartoon characters, had a house on Bailey Street, and living in them were the members of her family. Their attempt to confuse her with their various disguises and different voices was futile. The vodka gave her x-ray vision and, in a flash, beneath freckles, a beard or black skin, she found Tom, Cary and her parents.
“I love them and they love me,” she’d drunkenly tell the corny screen. “I’m the happiest girl in the world.”