“Eddie...and Terry Schmidt?” The woman blocking the entrance to the Odyssey Tours bus looked up from her clipboard. Terry and Eddie stepped forward, Eddie dragging her carry-on into Terry’s heels, making her wince. The guide, a tawny-haired woman of indeterminate age whose name tag read Marina, smiled. “Ah, and I was looking for two big German men. Mother and daughter, yes?”
Terry, a head taller than Marina, felt vaguely mocked. But her mother, as usual, cheerfully jumped in.
“Oh, I’m Edna, but my mother-in-law shortened it to Ee-die, then, it became Eddie,” she explained. “And this is my daughter Teresa, but she prefers Terry (giggling), I don’t know why—”
“We’re from Canada,” Terry said, “Winnipeg,” conscious of the half-dozen other couples waiting behind. Terry calculated she was the youngest by over thirty years. Her mother was already nodding at a lady in a plaid tam, as if apologizing for both their Canadianness and gender. Athens to Olympia, then the Islands Cruise: twelve days of togetherness, Terry realized fully for the first time. I should have taught Medieval Mystic Women instead of letting Dad talk me into taking Mom on what ought to have been their retirement trip, she thought.
“Welcome to the Cradle of Civilization Tour,” Marina said, giving each hand a quick pump. “What a coincidence—there is another Canadian mother-daughter who have joined the tour. Now, may I see your tickets? Ve-rry gooood.”
While her mother, behind her, bumped her bag up the steps, Terry slid into an empty pair of seats, placing her backpack on one. Hard to believe they were just around the corner from the Acropolis, the Parthenon. After twelve hours of traveling, all she was aware of now was the perspiration under her arms and the smell of cigars on the man behind her. He was saying “I hope they’ve got good java in the hotel, I sure could use a cup—”
“God, that flight was awful. My feet are still swollen—”
Muttering, Eddie pushed the backpack away, sank down beside Terry, and opened her purse, seeking Rolaids. Scanning the rows, Terry noticed an Asian woman about her age, with a henna-striped mane, staring at them from the seat kitty-corner. She was sporting pink earbuds and sitting beside an Asian woman in her sixties. Terry presumed this was the other pair Marina had mentioned. She readied herself to say Hello, but before she could, the bus engine roared to life.
Standing at the front, Marina picked up the microphone, and forty expectant heads, most grey, turned in her direction. She shouted out a word that sounded like “Yahoo,” but must have meant “Hello” in Greek. “Welcome to my home town, my adventurous children. For the next few days, I’ll be your Mama...” A few male cheers, a ripple of tentative applause.
“Isn’t that sweet,” said Eddie.
Terry grunted, rummaging in her backpack for her Greek-English dictionary. Instead, she found her latest journal, flipped it open, and jotted down: Marina, Goddess of the Sea. A bit too old and fat to be a siren. What about me? Twenty-ninth birthday yesterday, no man in sight, to Mom’s despair. Looking up, Terry caught the eye of the other young woman. Dropping her pen, Terry closed the journal with a snap as the bus pulled away from the curb.
That evening, a TV in the dining room of their first hotel was broadcasting CNN: “Countdown to London Olympics 2012.” Terry watched American athletes stretch their hamstrings as she nibbled on a ham and cheese sandwich. “I was expecting Greek salad,” Eddie complained around a mouthful of lettuce.
“So, is your name Terry or Teresa?” The other daughter was standing beside their table, her mother close behind. The young woman wore a leopard-spotted jacket and gold sundress, with large green sunglasses pushed back on her head. Her mother wore a cerise pantsuit and huge bronze circles in her ears. Eddie, by contrast, was wearing a TEAM CANADA sweatshirt and faded capris. Sitting up, Terry wished she had at least changed her blouse since checking in.
“Teresa—my mother claims she named me after the Saint—but everybody calls me Terry,” she said, pushing back her plate, while her mother beamed expectantly.
“Well, I’m almost as virtuous: Grace,” the young woman announced, dipping her head in a half-bow. “And my Mama: Ida-Lee Chow.”
Ida-Lee laughed, touching her daughter’s arm. “Ah, yes...a gift: my perfect daughter.” Terry sensed sarcasm, but Grace kept smiling.
“Pleased to meet the other mother-daughter team,” said Eddie. “I like your pantsuit, Mrs. Chow! Join us. Where are you from? Sorry—in Canada, I mean?”
Though Terry flinched at her mother’s slip, no one else seemed offended. The women sat down, Grace coolly smiling in a way that made Terry feel self-conscious in her stained blouse and old sneakers. Both Grace and Ida-Lee had gold strappy sandals on their tiny feet. Terry couldn’t help but think of the foot-binding of Imperial China. You should know better, she scolded herself: the exotic East and all those Orientalist clichés.
Grace said, “I was born in Vancouver. Mama, she came over from Hong Kong after the Repatriation. She still needs a bit of help with her English.”
“Grace help me,” said Ida-Lee, her bracelets chiming on her wrist. “Call me Ida—my new Canadian name.”
“I guess you could say, you get by ‘with the help of Grace’—isn’t that what one of your mystics would say, Terry?”
Eddie was delighted with her joke, leaving Terry feeling she had to explain. “I’m starting my dissertation on the writings of medieval women mystics.”
“Ah, a student,” said Ida-Lee with approval.
“Oh, those nuns who thought they were married to God, right? Like your Saint—” Grace waved away a waiter hovering, menu in hand. Terry wanted to bring up Heloise and Abelard, but thought, she’s just baiting me. She took a large sip of water.
“Maybe you’ve seen the famous sculpture—” Eddie broke in. “With the cute angel, the sword.” In a whisper, “Kind of kinky! What’s it called, Terry?”
“The Ecstasy of St.Teresa,” Terry supplied grudgingly, around her water glass.
“This trip was supposed to be my parents’ fortieth anniversary present,” Grace said, finger-fluffing her pinkish bangs, “but Dad had to have gall-bladder surgery. I was able to finish my exams a bit early, with permission. I’m still deciding between med school and fine arts—”
“Study to be a doctor,” Ida-Lee said. “That’s why we came to Canada.”
“But, hey, speaking of art—maybe I can look it up...” Grace continued, flipping open her cell-phone. Her fingers flew over the buttons and, in a moment, she had an image on the tiny screen which she displayed to both mothers. Eddie exclaimed, “Look, Terry! Isn’t that amazing—”
“You can’t really get the full impact until you see it in person, I’m told,” Terry said, trying not to sound pedantic.
“Too bad Rome’s not on this tour,” Grace said. “What a research opportunity.” She closed the phone, dropping it back into her pink purse. “So, you going to the taverna tomorrow, Terry and Eddie?”
“Maybe,” said Terry, lying. What else would they do? She unfolded her tour itinerary, scanning the days that lay ahead of them.
“Of course!” said Eddie. “Greek dancing. Wouldn’t miss it. Remember Zorba the Greek?”
“An-thony Quinn,” said Ida-Lee again, seeming to agree.
“Though I’ll probably sit on the sidelines, with my bunions, and my high blood pressure. Watch you young things dance. I hope Marina brings some partners for you—it’s a shame, no young men on the tour.” And Terry waited for her mother to point out, yet again, that by Terry’s age, she was already a mother. Surprisingly, Eddie stopped there.
But Grace laughed. “Oh, we can all dance together. Isn’t that a Greek tradition?”
Eddie looked at Terry’s itinerary and read. “‘Day Two: Athens. Day Three: a scenic drive through the Peloponnese. Day Four: Olympia, site of the first Olympic games.’ We can remember being here when the Olympics are in London—when are they starting, anyway?”
Grace used her phone once more to look up the date: July 27th, over two months away. Then she stood up, brushing at her immaculate jacket, and said something about jet-lag recovery time. Her mother nodded, adding, “Good night, ladies,” and got up. Their little shoes clicking on the tiles, they made for the elevators. Eddie needed more Rolaids, so she and Terry went over to the front desk. Eddie wanted to use Terry’s dictionary, but Terry simply said loudly, “Rolaids?” and a roll was plunked down before her mother could flip to the page labeled Health and Sickness.
“Aren’t you clever, you and Grace,” Eddie murmured, as she counted out her Euros. “We mothers would be lost without our girls.”
The next day, though it was just the first week of May, the heat was intense, bringing a grayish tinge to the sky by late afternoon. The haze almost blocked out the view of the Acropolis, causing asthma flare-ups for the lady in the plaid tam and her sister. Only a dozen made it to Zorba’s (as it was actually called, to Terry’s amazement) after dinner at the hotel. But at almost eleven, just as they were leaving, the sky was split by a flash of lightning. “Zeus is angry!” said Eddie as they huddled under the awning, her travel umbrella flapping. A taxi rolled up to the curb where they stood, but, seeing the crowd, continued to the front of the line, and picked up the first two couples: the Aussies. “I hope he phones for reinforcements!” Eddie shouted. “Where’s Marina?”
Terry pushed a wet strand of hair from her eyes. Even the rain felt tepid, and she would have liked a cool shower to douse the buzzing in her head from the complimentary cups of ouzo and the pounding dance music.
To her surprise, dance partners had been provided. Off-duty waiters? Aspiring actors? A few were good-looking enough. When dinner had been cleared away, she had noticed a muscular man with white jeans and a red shirt—HELLAS spelled out in gold across his chest—stride up to the stage, surveying the room, while couples gradually filled the floor. Terry had sat up, slipped her glasses in her purse. There was a tap on her shoulder, and Terry looked up, feeling a flush cross her face. A tallish boy with acne on his neck stood there, grinning. Wordlessly, he gestured at the stage, then grabbed her hand. “Go on, Terry, dance!” Eddie said. Terry shrugged, let him lead her to the stage. He clasped her around the waist and began half-waltzing her around to the beat of the recorded music, which sounded vaguely like Greek ABBA. She found herself peering myopically into the crowd of spectators, faces reduced to pink and tan masks. Was that Grace dancing with Mr. Hellas? The couple, sinuously entwined, were too far away to identify.
But there was no mistaking Marina, down below, in tight black t-shirt and gold spandex pants, leaning over her mother. Next moment, bunion-toed Eddie was bouncing up the steps behind Marina. Marina put a hand on her waist, a hand on her shoulder, and they circled round the floor, giggling like school girls. Her mother’s face, already pink, deepened to purple. She’ll have a stroke, Terry thought. Then the world shifted as her partner, humming in her ear, swung her in the other direction.
Suddenly, Grace was beside her, being lifted by her partner clean off the floor, mini-dress fluttering. As if in competition, Terry’s partner tried to oblige her with such a lift, but although he wrapped both hands around her waist and pulled, only her heels left the ground. She shook her head with an apologetic laugh. He grinned, said something she couldn’t make out—it sounded like “Not so bad, baby”—and steering her toward the steps, administered a pinch to her buttock (she had to assume it was him). Making her way down the steps a bit dizzily, with her mother calling her (“Terry! Terry, did you see us dancing?”), she wondered if this attention was included in the bill.
Now, half-under Zorba’s awning, they became soaked from the shoulders down. Terry noticed one of the husbands staring at her dress, where her nipples poked through the thin cotton, and pulled her shoulder bag over her chest.
“Where’s Ida-Lee? Where’s Grace?” her mother asked. “We’re supposed to share a ride with them.” By now, three more taxis had arrived, and rain-soaked tourists slipped in gratefully. But they were still stuck in the middle of the crowd.
“Oh, I forgot to take my pills. And with the time change—” Eddie groaned, checking her watch.
Looking around, Terry spotted Mr. Hellas coming out, wrapping an over-sized leather jacket around a young woman. “Isn’t that—?” She saw him shout across the busy road, and miraculously, a taxi turned around for him. He opened the door and the woman climbed in, smiling up at him. It was Grace.
Grabbing at her mother’s umbrella, she tried to point, but her mother was going through her purse. She snapped, “Please, Terry! I needed to take this hours ago—”
“I just saw Grace—leaving—with one of the dancers.”
“Are you sure?”
Terry felt a shudder goose pimple her skin. “I’m sure. But not surprised.”
Ida-Lee appeared beside them, holding a large black umbrella. Her coral pink lipstick looked like it had just been applied, but her voice was strained. “Have you—you seen Grace? Marina—”
Terry pointed in the direction of downtown. “She—I think I saw her leave, with one of the dancers.”
“Grace left?” Her face was an oval of disbelief or disappointment, which quickly changed to a mask of resignation. “Oh, well—”
“But she knows we were going back in one taxi—oh, here it is!” And Eddie lurched off the curb, almost tripping in her high-heeled sandals. The taxi driver was old but courteous, removing a fisherman’s cap when he saw the three women. “Our Achilles!” fluttered Eddie as he opened the door for her, grinning widely. “Thank God. Please—Hotel Marina—I mean, Athena.”
He gave a little salute. Eddie sagged into the backseat, umbrella dripping, hugging her purse to her like a lapdog. Ida-Lee struggled to put down her umbrella, and Terry had to help her climb in, saying, “I guess she got a ride quicker that way.” And was sorry she said that, as she sank down beside Grace’s mother.
Ida-Lee shivered and Eddie made her mother-hen clucking sound, adding, “Don’t worry, I’m sure we’ll meet her at the hotel. Didn’t she have her phone?” But Ida-Lee went silent again, sitting very erect so that there was no contact between their sprawling legs and hers.
Grace was not at their hotel. In their room, Ida-Lee tried her cell, but got no answer. “Low battery,” Ida concluded. Terry wondered if Grace and Mr. Hellas were speeding along the highway to elope. Or at least to fall into bed in a cheap hotel only the locals knew about. Eddie made tea, with her traveler's kettle, and opened up a box of chocolate cookies she had smuggled over in her suitcase. Grace’s suitcases were still open on her bed, tumbled clothes and bulging cosmetic bag belying any intended escape. Eddie alternated between blaming Odyssey Tours for the Greek dancer, who obviously took advantage of “an innocent young woman, out of her element,” and asserting that Grace could look after herself.
“She looked like she knew what she was doing,” was all Terry could muster, licking chocolate from her fingers.
Finishing her tea, Ida-Lee put the cup down, sighed. “Good girl, Grace. Always come back.” They looked expectantly at Ida-Lee’s weary face, the blush applied earlier now standing out on her pale cheeks like slap-marks, but she didn’t explain. Instead, she dug in her suitcase for a photo fold-out. Pictures of serious-faced children spilled across her lap.
“Ooh, I wish I’d brought mine,” said Eddie enviously. “THREE children! I only had Terry, but I still carry all her growing-up pictures—”
Nodding with pride, Ida-Lee took them through Grace’s different incarnations—flute player, junior gymnast, ballet dancer, university graduate. Then the older sister, who looked a lot like Grace, but rounder, and a younger brother with braces. There were pictures of the older daughter’s wedding (Grace the willowy Maid of Honor). Shots of the boy at Scout camp. As she finished, Ida-Lee folded the pictures into a neat package again, murmured, “Perfect memories. I stay behind tomorrow, wait for Grace.”
“That’s right, Ida. Family first, eh Terry?”
“Kind ladies,” said Ida-Lee, standing up and giving Eddie’s shoulder a pat which became a slow upward push. “You go...Good night, now.”
From her hotel bed, Eddie said, “So, she’ll stay here in Athens and wait for her daughter. I would.” Yawned. “I wouldn’t get a wink of sleep.”
Terry shrugged. “It’s happened before, hasn’t it? That’s what I got.”
But as her mother snored, it was Terry who tossed and turned on her queen-sized bed for what seemed like hours. For some reason, she kept replaying the words of the famous vision of St. Teresa, carefully quoted in her dissertation: “In his hands I saw a great golden spear....This he plunged into my heart several times....And left me utterly consumed by the great love of God.”
Ida-Lee did stay behind, once Marina explained it all to the perplexed hotel manager. Back on the bus, Terry could hear someone say: "The lady in the plaid tam? Oh she’ll turn up before dinner. Remember Rhodes? The wedding band that came into our restaurant, after the wedding was over? The guy playing the whadyecallit, he—” Meanwhile, hard-of-hearing Eddie started in on her own Pollyanna version of events. “Maybe they fell in love, and eloped,” she said, poking her daughter in the arm, “Just like in Roman Holiday. Call it Greek Holiday. You said he was cute.”
Opening her journal, Terry groaned, “Oh Mother. Since when were you so romantic? She can’t speak Greek, and he probably can’t speak English.” What they can speak, of course, is body language, she reminded herself. She straightened up. “I don’t think Grace is that flighty. She has career plans, med school, remember?”
“That’s what her mother wants. Maybe she’s an artist.”
“Anyway. Not so perfect now, is she? Running off for her, her—jollies and leaving her mother alone. When Grace knows how much she relies on her.” A buzz of irritation settled in. “As a mother, you should agree with me.”
“I know, it wasn’t right, poor Ida-Lee, but still...When your father and I met, well, I don’t know if I ever told you this, but—we, we went to bed on the second date.” This was said shyly yet proudly. Meanwhile Marina was tapping on the microphone, preparing to launch into the day’s spiel. “Say, do you ever hear from Davey?” Jogging Terry’s writing hand, as she entered the date.
“Doug—you mean Doug. And that was years ago.” Terry snapped her book shut, stared out the window, and found a red sports car, driven by a woman about her age. She watched it until it zipped into the passing lane, cutting off another, larger car. She felt her own foot pressing down, hard, on an imaginary gas pedal.
“All right, everyone get enough moussaka? Then it’s time for your afternoon story,” Marina purred into the bus mike as they pulled away from their lunch stop at an outdoor restaurant beside an olive grove. Yawns and anticipatory titters. Terry was going to make a note in her journal, but reconsidered, waiting.
“So, there was a mother and daughter who went on a picnic, like we did. The girl was picking flowers—she wandered away from Mama—suddenly, this handsome guy on a dark chariot appears, and grabs the girl—it’s Hades, King of the Underworld!” There were a few giggles as her dramatic flourish, bangles jingling on her wrist. Eddie poked her in the ribs.
“He kidnaps the daughter, Persephone, to be his bride. But Mama won’t have it—she’s a goddess, you see: she refuses to do her job, make summer come. Instead, she does nothing, laments. It stays winter. Everybody gets tired of this, so Zeus tells Hades to bring Persephone back. He does—but it turns out the pair have been feasting and partying down there, so as punishment, Persephone has to return to her husband in the Underworld for six months of the year. Then it’s winter. But when mother and daughter reunite, it’s spring again. Happy ending!”
There was a round of applause. “Wonderful, Marina,” Eddie called out. “Do you know that story, Terry?”
Terry grunted. Wrote in her journal, Eleusinian Mysteries de-mystified.
Marina bowed twice, then slipped back into her seat at the front. But before casual conversation could start up again, there was a cacophony of car-honking. Terry leaned forward but couldn’t see anything. The bus roared on. More honking. Then Marina was on her feet, holding her phone. Said into the mike, “Folks, I have very good news. We are being chased by our missing passengers. In a taxi—so, we’re just looking for a place to pull over.”
Murmurs, questions, craning necks. Standing up at her seat, Terry could just glimpse Grace’s head, leaning out the rolled-down passenger window. The taxi-driver was shouting something. Slowing, the bus turned sharply into a service station, flinging Terry against Eddie. Tsk tsk tsk, said Eddie, grabbing for her daughter’s hand.
The bus rolled to a stop. Grace and Ida were standing outside, blinking in the strong sun as the taxi backed away. Marina came down the steps, saying something Terry couldn’t catch. The passengers stood up, staring. Someone said, “Turned up again, eh?” and was answered with, “I wonder what they’re telling Marina—”
Eddie said, “I guess they didn’t elope after all.”
As Grace and Ida-Lee climbed back aboard, eyes averted, followed by a tightly-smiling Marina, the lady in the plaid tam (who turned out to be a retired librarian), said loudly, “But it’s like the story you just told us, Marina—when mother finds daughter, it’s spring again.”
Eddie said, “Yes—spring. It’s spring!” and started clapping. And as if to turn the unplanned meeting into another pre-paid diversion, everyone started applauding as well, except Terry.
To all questions, Grace would only say that she'd “gone to a cappuccino bar” with Antonio, who wanted to emigrate to Canada after his marriage to his high-school sweetheart. “His fiancée wants to study dental hygiene. I just gave them some leads about schools, Vic and UBC. Talked about emigration. It got late. Then my cell died. Antonio’s uncle put me up at his B and B.”
“And you were so suspicious,” Eddie whispered.
Terry glanced at Grace, who seemed remote and tired after making this explanation. So did Ida-Lee, slumped beside her. “Did I miss much?” Grace asked Terry. “Can’t wait for the trip to Olympic-ville.” Then she turned her sun-glassed face to the window and appeared to fall asleep.
Olympia was the end of the bus tour, before Terry and Eddie joined a mini-cruise of the Islands. (There was one other stop, at an olive orchard, where Terry was persuaded by a young farmer to help stomp the pitted fruit into cooking oil—“Virgin and Extra Virgin,” leered Marina—until she slipped on the viscous green liquid and fell on her behind. As Terry was hauled to her feet, her mother clucking, Ida-Lee commented loudly, “Strong girl; a good worker, I think.”) Since the London Olympics were just a couple months away, they had already watched numerous newscasts about their preparations: the heightened security, worries about an overcrowded Tube, clashing egos of both new and aging pop stars participating in the opening ceremonies. But it all began, as Marina reminded them, right here, in Greece.
“There was a young girl, a beautiful young girl, who was not yet married,” said Marina, smiling first at Grace, then Terry, where they sat at either end of the row of stone stairs beside the track. In leopard-spotted tights and gold jacket, hair twined into a thick braid, Marina looked like a retired Russian gymnast who had eaten a few too many cabbage rolls, Terry thought.
“Her name was Daphne. And Apollo, God of music, art, healing, fell in love with her. He ran after her, one day, as I’ve heard men do,” (pause, to allow a few chuckles), “and Daphne fled. She refused to marry, she was what you call a confirmed spinster.” Terry made a mental footnote for later: the spinster in classical mythology, compare the medieval virgin?
“She begged to be released, and so Apollo, having pity, turned her into a laurel tree. But the tree would be sacred to Apollo: ever after, laurel wreaths would crown the victors at Olympia.” Leaning forward on her gladiator sandals, she gestured at the rather scrawny trees surrounding them. “Voila—the laurel groves of Olympia. And one of you ladies,” (pause, a flourish with one hand), “and one of you gentlemen,” (echoing with the other), “will wear the laurel wreath after our own Olympic foot race.”
Gasps, laughs, sighs of consternation or resignation. “Oh, Marina...”
Eddie said, “Terry, you did track one year in high school, didn’t you?”
Terry shrugged. Most of her exercise lately consisted of long walks to the laundromat or grocery store and back.
Beside her, one woman said to her neighbor, “Joe always said we’d do half-marathons when he retired...”
Soon only a fifth of the group lingered beside the weathered remains of the running circle; the rest wandered off to the washrooms or gift shop. Grace was still sitting there, wearing her earbuds. Her mother whispered something to her, gesturing at her feet. Reaching into her large gold handbag, Ida-Lee brought out a pair of spotlessly white Nike shoes. Then white ankle socks.
“Grace run also,” she said. Slowly, Grace slipped off her sandals, put on the socks, put on the running shoes, and stood up, carefully taking the earbuds off. Ida-Lee reached out and patted her shoulders. “Perfect daughter,” she said.
Among the photos that Terry kept from the trip, pasted into her journal—Eddie and herself at the Captain’s Dinner on the Diana; sun-glassed Marina imitating a caryatid in the blinding sun at the Acropolis; the bus tour’s boisterous farewell drink at the harbor pub, emailed to her by Grace—her favorite was the one of her and the Aussie secretary, Clarice, with Bill the black insurance agent from Cleveland, and Edward, retired, from Johannesburg. In it, they are all standing in front of the Olympic flame monument with what appear to be untidy birds’ nests on their heads. Terry is wearing jeans and her sweatshirt from the conference at Kalamazoo, Michigan, hair sticking to her forehead. She isn’t looking her best—her mother was behind Marina, waving a hairbrush—but she is Daphne, and now she knows it. They have all joined hands at Marina’s insistence. Terry and Bill are winners in the category “under fifty,” Clarice and Edward, “over.” Edward’s face is the reddest, his grin either thrilled or appalled as he gingerly links fingers with Bill.
Terry now remembers there weren’t many in her race—seven, eight? Two women probably lied to get in—but she was aware of Grace in her gold t-shirt and peach pedal pushers, slim legs plunging forward in what turned into a kind of canter, rocking awkwardly on her new shoes, breath coming in gasps as her hair fell into her eyes. The other women were jogging behind them, one of them laughing wheezily. But Terry took a big breath, pulled her legs forward, and grimly hung on to her lead until she saw the stone pillar with Marina beside it. Next to Marina were her mother and most of their tour group, plus two gift shop cashiers on a smoke break. Eddie was encouraging, “My girl, my girl!” Someone—it turned out to be Ida-Lee—was yelling harsh words she couldn’t understand. Just as it was in Terry to get straight A’s on her exams, it was in her to cross the finish line first, though her heart pounded furiously. But unlike the Olympians she would later watch on TV, who praised God, wrapped themselves in the flag or the arms of their proud parents as they tasted victory, once she had caught her breath and received her wreath, shrugging away Grace’s panted congratulations, she really only wanted to wander off, by herself, into a library. And begin scribbling like mad in her journal, utterly consumed.