Biographies & Memoirs

Chapter 33

Before I get out of bed, I relive last night. Must have been twenty minutes we mauled each other against the refrigerator. Fan-bloody-tastic. The thought of seeing him this morning, however, is so agonizing that I dash to the kitchen for a cup of coffee and slip back into my room without even putting milk in.

A minute later, Martin peeks in my door. I’m going to miss him, his cheer and wide openness.

“Hey, mister,” I say.

“What’s your name?” The call-and-response is back.


“What’s your mum’s name?”


“What’s your name?” he starts again.

“What’s your name?” I take over, wondering if this is what he’s wanted all along.

“Martin Tanner!” There’s glee in his eyes. He knows what comes next.

“What’s your mom’s name?”

He revs his engine to bust through the barricade. “Mummy!”

“Ellen. Your mom’s name is Ellen,” I say, picking him up.

“ELLEN!” he repeats triumphantly, like he just filled in the last five squares on a crossword puzzle that everyone else had given up on.

“Ellen Tanner!”

“MUMMY ELLEN TANNER!” he belts out with true ecstasy. “MUMMY ELLEN TANNER.”

“That’s right!” It’s okay to say it now, I’m sure.

Milly appears at my door, and I’m afraid we’ll be reprimanded Captain von Trapp style, but she’s distracted by a letter. “Look, Keely! From your mummy. And there’s a picture in here. I can see it! I can feel the edges!”

I open the envelope and lift out a snapshot of my family, arm in arm on the lacrosse field at Washington and Lee. “Okay, here we go. Guys,” I say, as if I’m actually introducing everyone, “meet my family.”

The kids each take an edge of the photo, practically crawling into it, hunching over to pass their eyes across every person’s face. Booker in Ray-Bans and flip-flops; GT suited up in his gear with blackout under his eyes. Me in a borrowed red minidress that, I see now, does nothing but exaggerate my blocky figure. My dad in Bermuda shorts; my mom in a plaid A-line skirt and Jackie O glasses.

“That’s your mum,” Milly whispers, as intrigued to see my mother as I was to see hers.

“That’s her.”

“What’s her name?”

“You sound like your bro—”

“It’s Mary!” Martin shouts. “Her name is Mary.”

“That’s right. Mary Dwyer Corrigan.”

“You don’t look like her,” Milly says, surprised.

“No, I don’t. I look like my dad, like you look like your dad.”

“And my mom, too,” she corrects. “I can show you,” she says, opening the bottom drawer of a small dresser in my closet and pulling out an envelope of photos that says FREE DOUBLE PRINTS! twice. “See?” she says, handing me a shot of the three of them.

“Wow, you’re so right. You do look like her. She’s so pretty.”

Milly smiles and spreads out the photos across my bed.

“You could take one of these,” Martin says.

“We have tons of extras.”

“I would love that. Which one is a good one?” Milly hands me a shot of her and her brother and her mom, out by the pool. “Thank you so much, Milly,” I say, referring to much more than this fuzzy four-by-six.

“You’re welcome,” she auto-replies, referring, I’m sure, only to the photo.

“I will keep—” The phone rings and both kids pop up to get it, sure “It’s Daddy!” and that takes precedence over looking through some old snapshots, even of their mother.

“Hey, before you go, have you guys seen Evan today?”

“He left this morning to help Thomas fix his car,” Milly reports on her way to the kitchen, trusting me to tidy up the pictures, slide them in their envelope and back in their drawer so, in case it’s ever called into question again, Milly can prove her resemblance to Mummy Ellen Tanner.

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