Lilly drew a long suffering sigh as she made her way to Fran’s house. If Fran didn’t rally, soon, someone was going to end up carting her through old age. That someone wasn’t going to be Lilly. She let herself into Fran’s house. It was designed in hard edges and cold colors, Fran’s idea of elegant living. Luckily, Fran was about to lose the place. Maybe with a clean slate to work from she could create an inviting, comfortable, sanctuary for herself. Thankfully, Lexie’s father hadn’t lived to see the mess Fran made of her life.
She found Fran in her bedroom, sitting before her dressing table. She walked over and gave her a quick hug. “Frannie, I’m going to talk and you’re going to listen, then we’re going to get on with it. This is the deal- we’re not girls anymore. I want to be a strong, old woman and that’s what I want for you too. A man at your side does not confirm your existence. You define you and who you’d like to be. There is not a man alive who’ll be able to save you from the hurt in life, not a man who’ll be able to sustain the level of adoration you’re demanding, not one who’ll escape vulnerability from sickness or heartbreak. I don’t know what you’re looking for Fran, but you better give it up because it isn’t there.” Fran started to interrupt, Lilly raised her hand, “No, this is my turn and I’m not done yet. Just sit and listen.”
“You had everything you needed when you had Gregory. He worked himself to exhaustion for you but it wasn’t enough. You wanted a grand life, so you chose style over substance, and you dumped him. That didn’t work out so well, did it? You’ve effectively lost all that Greg worked so hard to provide, a place for you and Lexie to live that was yours free and clear. Jesus Fran, the man worked, while he was dying, to be certain this house was paid off. Then, you signed it over to Maurice the Moron, for what? To keep that slimy liar here at home instead of out chasing 19 year old girls?” Fran had gone from watery eyed self-pity (Lilly knew the cycle) to weeping in earnest.
“You’re not a victim so stop pretending you are. Stop feeling sorry for yourself, like you didn’t beg for exactly what you’ve gotten. Another thing, stop screwing that scumbag Woody Carmichael. Mae Lee might be blind but she isn’t stupid. What do you see in him anyway? You lost your virginity to him close to forty years ago. Still, you feel a need to reenact the crime? He’s a slob with a big, hairy, beer gut peeking out from under a sloppy old sweatshirt and every time the man turns around you see his butt crack smiling at you. You’re doing Mae Lee a favor, keeping that pig from grunting and heaving all over her. You’re not revisiting glory days, you’re just fucking a fat man. Where do you think that tired endeavor is going to take you? That’s the problem Fran, you don’t think. What is it that so scares you that you can’t be alone in your own good company? You’re funny and smart. You’re still pretty. Why can’t you be satisfied with all that you have, instead of chasing what isn’t there?”
Fran’s face was red and she took little gasps of air, as though she were drawing her last breath, the old drama queen. Lilly gave her a tissue and continued. “I’ve bailed you out for the last time, Frannie. I’m paying for Lexie’s wedding. She and Ben will choose a destination and they’ll invite the people they love the most. It will be small and fun, a happy start to their marriage. Lexie is a wonderful young woman, she’s a loving daughter and a loyal friend. You should be proud of yourself for the person you raised her to be.”
Lilly looked at her watch. “I have to go. Think about what I’ve said; call me if you need to review the fine points. Get yourself a lawyer and don’t try to seduce him. Save your energy for rebuilding your life. I love you, Fran.” Lilly hugged her again and she was out the door.