Her mother named her Amy, after the character in Louisa May Alcott’s book, the youngest sister who longed for elegant surroundings, art, clothing. A stylish, sophisticated Little Woman.
Our Amy grew up in a tiny, rural community forty minutes west of Portland, a place where the men congregated at the Village Variety for a cup of coffee and a chat before heading out to haul logs, drill wells, pump septic tanks, or blast some rock up to the gravel pit on Hildebrant Mountain. At home, the women sipped sweet tea out of mugs printed with names of local businesses, Three Lakes Credit Union, Conway’s Feed & Supply, The Country Grocer, and chased toddlers around all day in their home-based daycares.
The toddlers’ mothers got dressed up in skirts and blouses from JC Penney and drove the back roads over to Portland to work, putting in sixty-hour weeks along with their husbands (if they had them) in order to keep up with the mortgage payments on their colonials and capes situated in the Hidden Ridge development out on Route 11. Amy’s mother worked as an insurance adjustor at a Portland firm specializing in commercial properties. Every day for twelve years she drove into Portland. Every day the hot ball of resentment in her chest grew larger. She hated living in Three Lakes, but since the divorce there was no way she could afford to move. She was stuck.
Amy wasn’t stuck. She was seventeen and a senior and beautiful and smart. Amy would escape Three Lakes. It was what her mother wanted more than anything in the world.
So when prom time came around, she took Amy to David’s Bridal for a pouffy, pink confection of a dress, one with a tight, sleeveless bodice and yards of ruffles on the skirt. The salmon color off-set Amy’s shiny brown hair and blue eyes. Amy pouted and went along with her mother’s wishes. She was pretty, popular, and she planned on losing her virginity after the prom with her boyfriend, Chase, who she’d been dating for a year. Amy didn’t care what dress she wore to the prom. She only planned on leaving as quickly as possible and heading over to Chase’s grandparents camp–closed up until Memorial Day and wonderfully empty and isolated out on on the lake.
Amy’s mother did not know this, naturally.
Amy did not tell her mother that she threw her new sparkly, strappy heels under the seat of Chase’s truck on the way to the prom and put on her comfortable riding boots instead. All Amy’s mother knew was that her daughter had a pretty white rose and baby’s breath corsage on her wrist, a handsome boy by her side, and college acceptances from three universities–all out of state–sitting on her bureau upstairs.
What Amy’s mother didn’t know wouldn’t hurt her.
Three hours later, prom queen crown askew, Amy wound her long legs around her boyfriend, sighed into his ear. The boyfriend said, “Let’s get married.” Amy said, “Okay.”
March 11, 2014