The Free Women 1
But now Molly, reacting as she had often done in the past, to the slightest suggestion of a criticism from Anna of Mother Sugar, said quickly: ‘All the same, she was wonderful and I was in much too bad a shape to criticize.’
‘Mother Sugar used to say, “You’re Electra”, or ‘You’re Antigone”, and that was the end, as far as she was concerned,’ said Anna.
‘Well, not quite the end,’ said Molly, wryly insisting on the painful probing hours both had spent.
‘Yes,’ said Anna, unexpectedly insisting, so that Molly, for the third time, looked at her curiously. ‘Yes. Oh I’m not saying she didn’t do me all the good in the world. I’m sure I’d never have coped with what I’ve had to cope with without her. But all the same … I remember quite clearly one afternoon, sitting there — the big room, and the discreet wall lights, and the Buddha and the pictures and the statues.’
‘Well?’ said Molly, now very critical.
Anna, in the face of this unspoken but clear determination not to discuss it, said: ‘I’ve been thinking about it all during the last few months … no, I’d like to talk about it with you. After all, we both went through it, and with the same person …’
Anna persisted: ‘I remember that afternoon, knowing I’d never go back. It was all that damned art all over the place.’
Molly drew in her breath, sharp. She said, quickly: ‘I don’t know what you mean.’ As Anna did not reply, she said, accusing: ‘And have you written anything since I’ve been away?’
‘I keep telling you,’ said Molly, her voice shrill, ‘I’ll never forgive you if you throw that talent away. I mean it. I’ve done it, and I can’t stand watching you — I’ve messed with painting and dancing and acting and scribbling, and now … you’re so talented, Anna. Why? I simply don’t understand.’
‘How can I ever say why, when you’re always so bitter and accusing?’
Molly even had tears in her eyes, which were fastened in the most painful reproach on her friend. She brought out with difficulty: ‘At the back of my mind I always thought, well, I’ll get married, so it doesn’t matter my wasting all the talents I was born with. Until recently I was even dreaming about having more children — yes I know it’s idiotic but it’s true. And now I’m forty and Tommy’s grown up. But the point is, if you’re not writing simply because you’re thinking about getting married…’