On Tuesday mornings, Beverly goes to her marriage counselor. Hal doesn't. Mr. Ramundo is patient and gentle and kind. That's why Hal won't go to him. He's not manful enough for Hal. It's not that Beverly finds the counselor tremendously productive, but he is kind and understanding and not one bit critical.
She has to fill up the time saying something, so she says, "I don't have the energy to do much. Yesterday I was so tired, I couldn't even move the hose. I sat there too tired to get up, and I let the front yard flood."
"What do you think makes you so tired?" Mr. Ramundo asks. He leans forward in his desire to help.
"I don't know."
"Do you eat well?"
"Yes, I eat well."
"What time do you go to bed?" He looks at her face carefully. His fingers touch his mustache. His mustache looks like a quick stroke of a black magic marker.
"Beverly, what do you think makes you so tired?"
"Unhappiness?" She squirms in her chair.
Mr. Ramundo leans back and nods professionally.
While Beverly is meeting with Mr. Ramundo at Family Social Services, Callie plays with toys in the waiting room near the secretary's desk. When Beverly leaves Mr. Ramundo's office, the secretary is always effervescent about Callie, how she plays by herself the whole forty-five minutes, doesn't fuss once, is content the whole time. The secretary can't get over Callie's being so self-reliant. The secretary says every time: "She is the best child we have."
Beverly knows it.
Lily is driving home from strawberry-picking in her old maroon super-eight Ford. It's late afternoon. Beverly, sitting up front, is hot from strawberry picking. Her straight brown hair, now growing out, is pulled back in a pony tail. Escaped wet strands stick to her neck. Lily drives and lights a cigarette.
Matty and Callie are in the back, eating strawberries from tiny toy pails decorated with Donald Duck and Pluto. The strawberries are still warm from the sun, and red juice drips from the children's fingers and mouths onto their pressed-down thighs and the front of their clothes.
Lily says suddenly: "How could I know he'd be at K-Mart's?"
"I don't know."
"I wasn't looking for it, was I?" She stops at a light and turns to Beverly. "It's something that happened, wasn't it?"
Lily puts the car into gear and zooms ahead.
In the back, because of the sudden motion of the car, Matty's remaining strawberries spill. "Dummy Mommy."
"What can I do?" At this moment, Lily looks just like Matty.
"I don't know, Lily. I don't know. If only you could somehow stop thinking about it -- him."
Lily blurts out. "Stop thinking about him? He's ALL I think about." She puts out her cigarette. "Tell me what you you think, Beverly. Tell me honestly what you think."
Beverly takes a deep breath. "I think... I think, Lily, it's the hardest thing in the world to be a human being."
Helene and Mitchell conceive an eighth baby under the rhythm method. Gloom surrounds them. The gloom stays throughout the pregnancy. Everyone says that Helene and Mitchell will love the baby when it's born. Helene tells Beverly there will not be another baby after this one. She and Mitchell are going to use real birth control from now on. Eight is enough.
Beverly is asleep. Hal comes into the bedroom. Beverly rolls over and opens her eyes a moment. She watches Hal's posture in the dark as he takes off his clothes. His posture is unhappy. He moves, and the moonlight passes over him. Beverly sees his face in the moonlight.
"Oh, are you so unhappy?" she says.
He nods yes.
Beverly has hurt Callie's feelings. Beverly is into health foods and won't let Callie eat a little package of M&M's someone has given her. Callie says she is going to run away.
Beverly says, "Oh, where will you go to, honey?"
Callie, a serious listener of fairy tales, says "Far. . . far. . . away."
"Where is that, Callie?"
"Off ta court." Callie sniffs.
Beverly cuddles Callie in her lap, appeasing mutual yearnings to run away.