Susan Wolf Johnson

Gasparilla King Blog

I Am Not My M-m-mother!

As Victor swirled Becca around the ballroom at the Old Tampa Bay Hotel in Chapter 8, it started to rain.
I Am Not My M-m-mother!

I Am Not My M-m-mother!

As Victor swirled Becca around the ballroom at the Old Tampa Bay Hotel in Chapter 8, it started to rain.  Becca said, "It's not supposed to rain. Not tonight."  And Victor answered, "Well, we'll have to forgive it, won't we."  Those simple words rattled Becca and she found herself reliving a long forgotten memory of her dead father.  Forgive it.  The words stunned Becca because they were exactly what her father had said. "Let's forgive it."  And then he said there wasn't anything in a family that could not be forgiven.  But at the time, Becca was only eight.  She didn't know who should be forgiven.  In the novel, Becca recalled how her brother, Kurt, had disappeared one Easter morning.  He was only three.  He'd run up the staircase to his mother's bedroom to show her a colored egg.  That scene is in the novel.  But the following scene is another memory Becca had of her father and her Grandpa Dan that is not in the novel.

At twelve years old, Becca was expected to practice the piano every day. Even though her grandfather badgered her to perfect the scales and play Bach's minuets over and over until her fingers burned, she never mastered the classical compositions like her mother.  At times Daniel sat next to her while the metronome ticked on like a mad clock.  He told her to slow down, lift her wrists, keep her back straight, and her fingers moving like waves over the keys.  "Don't plunk them," he said.  "And keep your head still—this is not the blues."  He would keep at her, until Becca spotted her father passing by the living room, and she would whine, "I'm tired, Daddy."  And Richard, as if on cue, would answer, "For God's sake, Daniel, let the child go play."  No sooner had Richard said the words, Becca would slip off the piano bench and run outside where she could still hear her grandfather yelling, "There's not enough discipline in that child to tie a knot!"

Becca remembered how each time she managed to slip away from Daniel's clutches at the piano, she felt like she'd won some strange and daunting game.  And after her father died, and could no longer rescue her, she would bounce her head to the beat of the metronome, or let her fingers go limp on the keys until Daniel would throw up his hands and send the metronome flying across the living room.  "Your mother would never do this!" he would shout.  And Becca would look him square in the face, because that was exactly what she was waiting to hear.  "I am not my m-m-mother," she would stutter.  

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