The Magician and the Butterfly: Epilogue

People say that time changes everything, but I don't believe it. Never have. My husband is more stubborn than ever after twenty years of marriage to me; the McCallister sisters still don't talk to each other on account of Alex, despite him being happily married to neither of them; old Ellen Pierce in the Quilting Circle still blushes and giggles, for all that she is eighty and a mother of four, when we read certain parts of our novels and Cody Robbins still pines after that slut, Sabine.

Personally, I don't know how Brett can stand it. She must either be a saint or addled, because Cody doesn't hide it too well. Always was too honest for his or his wife's good. I mean, when I went to visit them the other day to congratulate Brett on expecting their second child, I caught him writing a letter to Sabine. (I don't know how he expected to get it to her, travelling around as she is with that drifter, but Cody never was the brightest star in the sky.) His pregnant wife was in the next room, trying to put that baby to sleep and he was composing love-letters to his ex. Sure, it wasn't anything Don Juan would have written, but it was more friendly than a married man should be with his adulterous ex-wife.

Perhaps it was a good thing then that I never gave him the letter than Sabine posted to him from somewhere in New Orleans. He certainly didn't seem to need any encouragement. It arrived three months after she'd left him, written on the back of a circus flyer with a pencil and stuffed into a manilla envelope with a sheaf of divorce papers. Stank of the cheap perfume she always wore and cigarette smoke. Naturally, I couldn't have shown it to Cody, although I certainly handed those papers to him. He was just getting over her, as evidenced by his developing relationship with Brett, and I wasn't about to be the one to deliver Sabine's kiss of death to it. The Quilting Circle agreed with me, when I read it aloud to them, over our 'Road to California'. I still remember it, after Mrs Robbins made me repeat it over and over again. Let me think . . .

"I've written this letter over and over again, trying to make the ugly truth seem more palatable, but I guess I gave up somewhere between 'dear Cody' and 'yours sincerely'. Besides, after everything those old cats would have told you to soothe your bruised ego, I doubt you'll believe much of what I said anyway. Bluntly, I left you because I was unhappy. I'm not blaming you or Caldecott completely for that, because I know I could have been a better wife. Had your children, instead of sneaking those pills that you thought were vitamins each morning. Listened to your problems over a five-course meal, before getting your slippers and newspaper. Gone to those 'social gatherings' at the church with my potato-salad and company face. God, you wanted me to be Brett Morgan, but I never could be, and I do blame you for that. For wanting and not wanting *me*, Sabine Marie Morrison. For your selfishness in trying to mould me into your image of a perfect wife by ignoring and punishing me for any mistake. I'm not telling you this to hurt you, but to show you a side of yourself that Caldecott attempted to cover up. I'm telling you because, when we were married, I wanted to love you more than I knew I did."

Worst of all was the picture on the front of the glossy sheet - Sabine dressed in the tiniest of white leotards, that would have made even Salome blush, with spangled hose. She'd dyed a freakish stripe into her hair and had caked the make-up on her face. Her arms were around that coonass magician, dressed all in indigo, as he lifted her into the air, silver chiffon scarf trailing down her back like butterfly wings. Around them, doves rose into the air in a shower of feathers. (Surprised it wasn't something else that was raining down on them, if you know what I mean.) Even I could see that the love in their eyes as they looked at each other wasn't faked. Disgraceful, I thought, and the girls at the quilting circle agreed with me. Poor Mrs Morrison was furious when she saw what a floozy her only child had become. I don't think she's forgiven Sabine yet, despite the fact that that girl writes to her fairly regularly. Refuses to show any of us the letters though, but burns them in the fireplace, while staring at Sabine's photo with a stony face.

I might show Cody the letter one day, when he stops sitting on the porch every night, watching the road. When he looks at Brett like he used to look at Sabine. When he doesn't go to the bar each Saturday night and stare at that Flamenco dancer over a single beer. When his eyes stop betraying him at posters advertising a circus in Jackson or Meridian. I'll show it to him when he forgets.