Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Not That Kind of Girl: Unbound

Stares and whispers follow Lunissa through the halls like the vapor trail of a jet in a clear blue sky. We have no idea what to make of this full-grown woman masquerading as a high school student.

We hear she’s married. We hear she’s from a rich Jewish family back East. We hear her folks are famous. If her appearance is indeed a masquerade, her costumes disguise her well: long, wild, dirty hair, three or four men’s shirts at a time, long cotton skirts, and steel-toed work boots.

When spring comes Lunissa peels off several layers of dirty clothes and her husband’s boots, and we discover she doesn’t shave her arms or legs. Evidently she doesn’t believe in deodorant. Or underwear.

She doesn’t believe in the regular order of things, either. For as long as anyone remembers, boys have taken Shop and girls have taken Home Ec. Lunissa says she knows how to cook. She wants to learn how to weld, how to build and fix things. She takes her fight all the way to the school board and wins. The Board doesn’t want to be sued by fancy New York lawyers.

Lunissa can take Shop, they say, but if she gets hassled or hurt, she’s on her own. She does not get hassled (all the boys have seen her moving mountain of a husband) and she does not get hurt. She does learn how to weld.

As the weather warms up, Lunissa wears fewer and fewer clothes. Teachers say her appearance disrupts classes; girls say she’s weird; boys say leave her alone. Meetings are held to discuss the situation.

Finally Lunissa appears at school wearing NOTHING but an extra-large man’s white t-shirt. Well, nothing unless you count the red silk ribbon tied around each big toe. These ribbons, she says, are her shoes.

That morning a teacher drives Lunissa back to the farm where she lives. We never see her again, but we never forget her, either.

14 comments:

Carrie Wilson Link said...

OH MY GOD!

kario said...

Whoa - cool! I am so intruigued! I can even smell her, Jerri. This is awesome.

Amber said...

Oh, I LOVE this one!
What a great visual of a charater.

:)

Mystic Wing said...

Absolutely great.

Your pieces on this vein remind me of a Flannery O'conner novel called "Wise Blood." This is high praise, indeed.

How the hell does one small Missouri town produce all these wonderful eccentrics?

Skyelarke said...

I'm back! I have so much reading to catch up on!So glad to see you're still writing.

Prema said...

All different shades of woman. You give us installations, like walking around a sculpture at a museum, and chances to see yet another facet. Love these pieces.

grammer said...

Jerri, these women are fascinating. I am in awe of the way you paint these portraits so completely and compactly. You make excellent choices in your writing and I am learning from every post! Thank you! xo

Deb said...

I have never read anything like what you're doing with these women, but at the same time your stories feel so like home to me. I love Lunissa. Really love her! The guts and the anger and even though you don't say it - I can feel her vulnerability underneath. I can feel your respect for these women as well. Thank you for another amazing story.

Stacy said...

Are you dreaming these characters up? So surreal, so well done. I am taking notes. I also want to follow Lunissa home and spy on her for hours.Great story.

Monica said...

Dearest Jerri,

I'm going to catch up on all these wonderful blog entries. And this was my first one in a long time. I loved it.

This is such an incredible story to add to YOUR incredible story where you learn to do everything in your house. And then turn it into a successful career!

Lunissa learning to weld, that's the story and her quirkiness just adds to the richness of it. Amazing.

Go Mama said...

Yummy! You're on a roll with this approach Jerri.

Do we ever get them in the same room ala "The View?" I'd love to be a fly on the wall for some of those converstations...

Michelle O'Neil said...

Great Story Jerri!

Your hometown was RICH!

Kim said...

Wow, these characters are getting crazier with every post! Love it!

holly said...

DITTO - love these characters and the way you bring them alive. All of these women are totally fascinating.