Bennington Girls Are Easy

Bennington Girls Are Easy by Charlotte Silver

Book: Bennington Girls Are Easy by Charlotte Silver Read Free Book Online
Authors: Charlotte Silver
children go Clementine was delightful, but still—Cassandra had no natural tenderness with, or for, children. She feared that Edward, being so traditional, would want to have them. She didn’t. She wanted to have French breakfasts and make love on the living room floor forever and ever, no children waking up and waddling in.
    The way Sylvie acted with Clementine was beginning to disturb Cassandra. She felt that the attention she paid her was excessive. Was this her way of detecting that the unconditional love that was once her due had shifted, as in a love triangle, to Clementine? For here was Sylvie, no longer paying attention to her but to Clementine—feeding her snap peas (“Clementine already eats all of her vegetables”) out of a plastic bag, picking her up out of her stroller and hugging her at what were to Cassandra quite random intervals, singing her songs in French.
“Alouette,”
she sang,
“gentille alouette,”
which once upon a time Sylvie and Cassandra had sung together in high school French class.
    Sylvie needs to get laid, Cassandra was thinking; it had been quite a while, hadn’t it? Sometimes, giving in to ennui, Sylvie had one-night stands, not that she ever seemed to enjoy them all that much. It had been a long time now since the giddy, reckless era of the silver eyeliner, of Jasper and Angus and Bertram and Max…Sex wasn’t sacred, either. In fact, Sylvie had found, it was often more trouble than it was worth, and then! And then there was the fact that all of the guys she met in New York were so lame.
    Cassandra and Sylvie wheeled Clementine in her stroller all over the neighborhood: to get
pain au chocolats
for her and lattes for them (which, hoping to turn her into an avid coffee drinker later on in life, they encouraged her to take tiny sips of); to florist shops (
See, Clementine, tulips, yellow tulips, can you say
tulip
?
); and, inevitably, to the Brooklyn Flea, where they whittled away whole Saturdays sorting through old wooden boxes of vintage buttons. Would Clementine like this one, or would Clementine like that one? Buttons were a passion of hers, little red ones especially. Button! she would exclaim. Button!
    Clementine’s voice was absolutely delicious. Bouncy and bell-like, the cartoon voice of a beautiful child. “Clementine is so lyrical,” Sylvie said. And so, when Clementine said the word
Button!
, that sound, like the plaintive chords of a string quartet, sent silvery shivers of recognition down Cassandra’s spine.
    “It’s sad,” said Cassandra.
    “What’s sad?”
    “Clementine’s voice. It’s sad.”
    “No, it isn’t,” insisted Sylvie.
    “It is. It’s so…mournful.”
    “Jesus, Cassandra, Clementine’s voice is
not
sad. Clementine is
not
sad. Clementine is a beautiful little girl and it’s a beautiful spring day and anyway
I
make her happy.” She got down on her knees and wiggled her nose against Clementine’s: “Don’t I? Don’t I? Doesn’t Sylvie make you happy?”
    “Sylvie,” repeated Clementine, giggling.
    “But
happiness
is the saddest thing in the world. And as an adult to try to recapture happiness—”
    Then all of a sudden Clementine was crying—Clementine, who, according to Sylvie, never cried. Sylvie thought: Cassandra really is lousy with kids. She’s going to have to come up with a hell of a good excuse when Edward wants to start having them. And he will, she thought, the stuck-up preppie bastard. Sometimes Sylvie thought that Cassandra’s relationship would stand a chance only if Cassandra could continue to conceal her real self—that being the self she had no shame in revealing to Sylvie.
    “Oh, look what you’ve done, Cassandra!” Sylvie stooped down again and flooded the child with the daintiest of kisses, on her forehead, her lashes, her nose.
“Alouette,”
she sang to her darling Clementine,
“gentille alouette…”
    “Oh my God. Sylvie? Sylvie Furst!”
    The girls looked up only to see a dim, honey-blond creature

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