My sister Cordelia (all names have been changed to protect the innocent) and I have differing religious philosophies, but we’ve always agreed on one thing: neither of us has ever wanted to be visited by the Virgin Mary.
When I was little (and actually believed in the Virgin Mary) I was terrified of a visitation, mainly because the last thing on earth I ever wanted to be was a nun, and I just knew the Virgin Mary was going to appear before me and tell me it was my destiny. Cordelia, on the other hand, wasn’t worried about anything the Virgin Mary might say to her. Her worry was that the Virgin Mary would visit her while she was naked in the bathtub, which would be embarrassing.
So, this brings us to midnight last Saturday. Here’s the scene: Cordelia, sadly, has the flu and is feeling achey and cold. She decides to take a warm bath, staggers into the bathroom, gets the water running, and starts splashing around. In the meantime, I stand at the kitchen counter mesmerized by the latest People magazine, which contains fascinating bits of news such as: Sheryl Crow had nothing to do with the romance between her mutual friends Jennifer Aniston and John Mayer. It was not she who hooked them up. (This is news? That something happened and Sheryl Crow had nothing to do with it? And yet, I’m unable to put this magazine down?)
After some time, my need for shiny-people-gossip satiated, I wander back to my bedroom, passing the bathroom on my way. I don’t hear any splashing, so I call out, “You still floating in there?”
There is no response.
“Cordelia?” I say, standing right outside the bathroom door, where it’s impossible for her not to hear me. “CORDELIA?”
There is still no response.
What there is is a moment of sheer terror.
“CORDELIA??!” I scream, bursting into the bathroom like a lunatic banshee. Cordelia, who is not drowned, but has, in fact, fallen asleep in the bathtub, wakes up screaming and thrashing about, because, as matters would have it, it is disorienting to regain consciousness and find yourself (1) immersed in water (2) with someone shrieking on the other side of the shower curtain. I, misinterpreting her screams and apparently having internalized our Virgin Mary conversations more than I ever realized, scream back at her with utter sincerity, “Don’t worry! I did NOT see you naked!”
Which I’m thinking, in retrospect, probably didn’t do much to clarify the situation for poor Cordelia.
Cordelia is feeling much better now.
Nothing like a good scare to revive the immune system.
(Also, a note to those interested: I finished the first revision of Fire and sent it to my editor. Yay!)