The good professor has arranged a book reading and sharing at the college. In two weeks, a Friday, so there won’t be a lot of people on campus. Even so, plenty of time to worry about the event. The mailing card flyers are beautiful, but they remind me of my fears about presenting. My dilemma is the peculiar tension I am feeling between my immense satisfaction in having shepherded the book to publication and the real difficulty I know I will have in explaining Elizabeth’s story and how it all came to be. And the book’s reflection of fact and fiction. I mean, it’s Elizabeth’s story and that could be interpreted in several ways: it’s either my telling about Elizabeth, or her own telling about herself, or maybe even her telling a story, an extended fib, to cover sins and weaknesses and fears. Or a little bit of each.
And then there’s the book’s plot, if one could call it that. One or more of the characters in the story claim there is no plot, that it’s simply a tale of two persons carrying manuscript or book as they travel, telling pieces along the way, to people with their own very separate agendas and concerns. That shares and builds separate narratives outside Elizabeth’s original fictional memoir set in familiar geography and biography. With the added complication of things which contradict truth or likelihood.
Then there’s the issue of where this story came from. Almost three years ago Kathryn in California emailed a request to fill out a high school fiftieth reunion survey, even though she wouldn’t attend the reunion. I had never spoken with her at school, a boarding school in Pennsylvania similar to the one Elizabeth attended.. I still haven’t spoken with Kathryn, but in an early email from her she admitted to having “hidden” at the school. I too had “hidden” at the school, but behind a façade of activity and involvement. Kathryn was writing a story about a young woman named Elizabeth, but had neglected to write about her for quite a while. I begged Kathryn to be in touch with her Elizabeth, who I said had told me she was afraid Kathryn had forgotten her. A plaintive cry which echoed in my heart, and resulted in my own fabrication of two girls’ relationship at a school similar to mine. Elizabeth and Kathryn. And Elizabeth’s Story.