The good-looking one, the one in need, the one that almost was
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Mary Sojourner was first published in The Sun in July 1991. She lives in Flagstaff, Arizona.
This month marks The Sun’s twenty-fifth anniversary. As the deadline for the January issue approached — and passed — we were still debating how to commemorate the occasion in print. We didn’t want to waste space on self-congratulation, but we also didn’t think we should let the moment pass unnoticed. At the eleventh hour, we came up with an idea: we would invite longtime contributors and current and former staff members to send us their thoughts, recollections, and anecdotes about The Sun. Maybe we would get enough to fill a few pages.
What we got was enough to fill the entire magazine.
Though we haven’t devoted the whole issue to the anniversary, we have allowed the section to grow beyond our original plans. After seeing the pieces, we felt that our readers would enjoy them as much as we did — for the information about the magazine’s history, for the glimpses into the writers’ lives, and (not least) for the quality of the writing.
Mariette tells me we still have beautiful legs, both of us, even if our faces have gone to seed. I am fifty. She is fifty-three and not from this country. A few minutes ago, I was driving into town to a friend’s to decorate Easter eggs when I saw Mariette walking along the road.
It’s funny how the absence of someone who wasn’t ever really there feels. It’s not like a hurt, it’s more like a bruise you don’t notice till you bump it. Then it stings. But only for a second, only for as long as it takes me to put my mind on happier things.
Then, a mist drifted up in front of my eyes. It started gray. It began to burn, to get redder and redder and the words I heard rolling from my lips were like the words my grandpa knew. They were holy words, words of the old prophets. Wanton. Strumpet. Whore. Sister of the serpent, angel of evil, Satan’s bitch, vessel of filth, pestilence of desire, demoness eater of the soul.