raggedly, pushing a blinded Mike away from him.
“But I don’t want to wait,” Mike raged to Priss Comfort on the day after one such episode. “What if I do get pregnant? We’re going to get married anyway. We’re going to have children anyway.”
“Not, I hope, while you’re still children yourselves,” Priss said acidly.
“We’re not children. He’s not, anyway.”
“You’re right about that,” Priss said. “There’s nothing childish about Bayard.”
“Then why wait?”
“Because not to wait is stupid, Mike. And you’re not stupid. You’ll be a mother, I hope, and a good one, but there’s so much more you need to be first.”
“Like a person.”
“I’m a person now.”
“No. You’re a promising cadet. Go on home, now. I’m tired and I want a bath and F. Scat Fitzgerald wants his supper.”
By the time they were midway through their senior year, it was settled that they would be married the following August and John Winship would send them boththrough the Atlanta Division of the University of Georgia and Bayard could take an evening job if he liked, and they would live in the Pomeroy Street house until they graduated. There was more than ample room in that echoing temple to Claudia, and Flora Sewell was just up the street and could be kept under the watchful eye of her son. John Winship was as nearly jaunty as Mike had ever seen him, talking expansively, waving away their thanks. Bayard Sewell was incandescent with happiness and gratitude to John. Mike was stupid with joy. For the first time in her life, she felt her essential Winshipness, and sometimes she would look at her father, and he would catch the look and smile at her, or nearly, and she would think, I am Mike Winship. Micah
. I am him, and he is me. And she would know with an honesty far beyond her years that it did not matter in the least with what coin she had bought the belonging, nor how late. That only the belonging mattered. To belong. To be Mike Winship and to belong to John Winship and to Bayard Sewell. I have done well, she knew within herself.
Even DeeDee, worn with teaching, housework, and caring for the new baby, and thickening with Kraft Macaroni and Cheese Dinners, approved.
“Imagine my little scrawny chicken sister with a man like this,” she said.
Priss Comfort alone did not seem entranced with the union.
“You just make sure you don’t get pregnant before you finish high school and do some serious work,” she snapped. “Do you know what to use?”
“Oh, Priss, of course. DeeDee told me …”
“DeeDee’s a fine one to tell anybody about birth control,” Priss growled, and took Mike to an Atlanta gynecologist to be fitted for a diaphragm.
“Aren’t you glad for me?” Mike asked her once. “You don’t seem to be.”
“Let’s just say the jury is still out,” Priss said. More than once that winter, as spring approached, Mike found Priss frankly drunk on the sofa in the stone house. But she did not go there so often anymore, so it was hard to tell if Priss was drinking more than usual or not.
I T WAS IN P RISS’S SENIOR E NGLISH L ITERATURE CLASS THAT Mike found another great piece of herself. Priss had them reading
, and Mike had fallen under the rich, glinting spell of the tragic Moor. His complexity, grandeur, foolishness, pain—his sheer humanity—roared in her ears and filled her mind. She did not think she had ever encountered so complete and finished a human being. In this, she knew, she was alone.
The class was made up of Mike and a few other town students and a number of gangling, heavy-handed eighteen- and nineteen-year-olds who dropped out each spring to plow and plant and each fall to harvest. Some were taking Priss’s class for the second and third time, for unlike many other Lytton teachers, who sighed gratefully as soon as tenure was assured and automatically passed everyone who could write his name, she was adamant about her