Lacey’s legal birthday is November 22nd. Yesterday she was at the doctor and they discussed her spine. And apparently she was born with an abnormally straight spine in a few spots. When she was little she couldn’t do summersaults as a result. It’s never bothered her and it isn’t her whole back. It’s just…her.
When is her actual birthday?
“Were you and Jack show-offs?” asks Joe Jr..
“Did you hurt other kids with your antics?” he asks.
“That’s a beautiful explanation for our backs isn’t it?” smiles Lacey. “I’m sure the kids we hurt didn’t deserve it and we felt horrible about it if reincarnation is something the God of Bible uses if Christians die and chose to be reincarnated or however it would work in Christianity.”
Lem looks guilty.
Last night Lacey had two dreams.
One made her realize how deeply in love with Louis she is. How utterly splendid he is. The other is how Lem is so different than her.
But it’s still Michael she belongs to. Last night they kissed and he made her cry. Not because she was sad. Because she realized she could easily imagine him being her husband and dying for some noble cause.
“It’s why I don’t believe in fairytales when it comes to love.” she said. “Because in my mind men like him who can love me so sweetly and earnestly, die.”
“It’s fascinating that you think that if reincarnation isn’t a thing, so to speak.” says a Frenchman.
Lem looks at her. “Die? Of what?”
“Usually in a war. Or something depressing like that.” says Lacey.
“She’s not my daughter!” says Rose Kennedy to explain to a witch that Lacey isn’t Jack reincarnated nor Lem. She’s annoyed.
Last night Lacey and Jack also laughed together at how messy her heart is. She’d rather it not be. He empathized.
“Lem did you try to marry well?” Lacey asks him frankly.
He looks sad.
“That’s why it hurts me so much when people accuse me of being a prostitute. It’s so contrary to my nature.” says Lacey.
“And you think I tried to not only be gay but marry as well as possible considering.” says Lem.
“Did you?” asks Lacey.
“Are you gatekeeping Jack? Now?!” asks a Gen Z member.
“Possibly. Possibly not. Or maybe I’m just gobsmacked by reality.” says Lacey.
He sighs. Loudly. “I was taught that by my culture. To marry well. But while I didn’t outright plan that, I didn’t shun it like you either.”
“What’s that like?” asks Lacey.
“It’s weird. You don’t dislike people who aren’t impressive but a part of you wants to find someone who’s of a certain caliber. The right connections and profile.” he says grimly. “You don’t feel ashamed to be with other people who aren’t of your caliber at least, but you feel…they aren’t good to get so terribly close to, so to speak.” says Lem.
“But you really weren’t bisexual?” asks Lacey. “Or gay?”
Lem smiles. Laughs as he closes his eyes.
“No.” he says.
“And you saw him as your one big chance?” says Lacey.
“To marry or even almost marry someone that impressive?” he asks.
“I mean, there you were. Stuck with men.” she says making a pouty face. “Because you couldn’t be a liar and a dishonorable man and marry a woman being what we’d consider bisexual today. …And there’s your fun, intelligent and objectively handsome friend who’s secretly enamored by you.” says Lacey. “And he’s…so, so wealthy. And so ambitious. And so likely.”
“So what would you have done?” he asks.
“Kept my eye on you.” says Lacey.
“You’re likely to have come on to me.” he says. “Joe cheats.“ He thinks. “And I would have told you the truth. Should I be a ghost and not a liar. Abuse-“ he cuts off. “Confusion. A sense of self-loathing.”
“Would you have dropped your gay act?” she asks.
“Yes. My voice would have fallen. My lisp disappeared. As it did on occasion, mysteriously. My voice lacked roundness.” he says.
A lesbian laughs. “I’m not saying men are dumb. But why do they get taken in by this same shit?!” she says. “Because it reminds me of the obvious lies women tell that they fall for and endlessly defend.”
“It does. Should it be true.” Lacey responds. “It’s their real vulnerability.”
“They don’t want to think they could be that stupid.” says Shanann.
“Lem got raped. Possibly. And Jack was fooled into thinking he was being truly romantically loved by Lem. Possibly.” says Lacey.
“How did Jack not realize he was a rapist? And how did Lem not realize he was genuinely straight and letting himself get revictimized?” asks Joe Jr. of Lacey. He laughs.
“Somehow Lem’s real sense of honor was ironically his downfall. And Jack had normalized rape.” says a living feminist. “Should this be true.”
“But good is good and bad is bad.” says Lacey. “I’m sure God noticed Lem’s good intentions should they have existed.”
“Was Evelyn Waugh’s novel an unintended satire of the Kennedy family?” asks someone.
“Was he unwittingly telling jokes inspired by dead saints?” asks Lacey.
“Even if reincarnation isn’t real it’s plausible.” says Michael.
Lem looks at Lacey. “So you need reassurance that you’re wanted by a man?” he asks her. “And you don’t look for status?” He laughs.
“I look for intelligence and good character.” Lacey says.
Joe Jr. bursts out laughing.
Lacey continues, “And yes. I never assume I’m truly loved or wanted. Ever.”
“Even by yourself?” asks Jack.
“No. That’s one exception.” admits Lacey.
“Lem did you take care of Jack or did Jack take care of you?” asks a Millennial.
“I took care of him. But he essentially babysat me too.” he says.
“How so?” asks Lacey, confused.
“I never had to grow-up.” Lem says.
“I never had to face certain harsh realities of my body. My limitations. Or my soul.” he says. “I never had to face my love. My needs as a man. And instead I just shrugged everything off, casually.” says Lem.
“How could you live like that?!” asks Lacey.
“There was always something to look forward to. …I always felt special. By association.” he says.
“But that’s so lonely.” says Lacey. “And you went on a lark about how wildly and lavishly you found great joy and happiness with Jack merely by being his best friend.”
He laughs. “I thought I had.”
“How did you never notice you hadn’t ever had your real sexual longings fulfilled?” asks Lacey. “Or that nobody even truly knew of them?” She looks at him. “Did anyone know you at all really other than your family?”
“It’s not that it’s impossible. But it’s…a lot to expect me to believe.” she says. “That you never hated your life so thoroughly you were forced to see more truth.”
“That he never missed you? Or…is it better or worse to think he couldn’t imagine you even existing at all?” asks Michael. “Because I couldn’t but I longed for you to, painfully.”
“And I knew she could and I was brutally disappointed when she didn’t.” says Louis.
“And I thought you existed too.” says Lacey to Louis. “And I’ve been baffled my whole life to never find you.”
“I though Lady Ashley was you.” says Harold. “Or like you, obviously.”
“And she just needed more reassurance?” asks Lacey.
“Yes.” says Harold.
“Lem do you want the real Lady Ashley? Some woman you wants to use you?” asks Lacey. “Who you have to tame and cruelly discipline when she inevitably screws-up?”
“And Lacey, why didn’t you think Michael could exist?” someone asks.
“Because that’s too much to ask of God.” says Lacey.
“Lem, should you be Lem Billings, what’s it like sitting at the top of the world? All alone. Not aware…that you’re alone?” asks Jack Kennedy dramatically.
Lem goes cold.
“Were you alone?” Lacey asks Jack, concerned.
“No. I was loved.” Then he smiles reassuringly.
“Good.” says Lacey.
“What about you?!” asks a Rockefeller of Lacey.
Lem shakes and cries. Rocking himself in shock.
“No.” she says. She says as if she was given the wrong order at a restaurant. A restaurant falling into disrepair.
“It seems like one can love greatly? And yet not be loved!” says Lacey amazed by the Galen Earth experience.
“And it’s okay to rape?!” asks Jack.
“No! No, Jack. That’s not okay.” she says.
“I think I could love you as a friend. Maybe that’s all. But that’s enough for you. Isn’t it?” he asks, horrified.
“Yes! Why wouldn’t I want you only as a friend? That sounds nice.” says Lacey.
He blinks. “You’re a girl.” he says.
She rolls her eyes.
“Are you snubbing me?!” she asks, hurt.
“It’s just that my brother says that girls can’t be friends.” he says.
“Your older or younger brother?”
He looks despairing. He shrugs.
“I bet it’s your father who really said that.” says Lacey.
He smiles and laughs. “No, you want to meet him? I bet he’d be scared of you.”
“Who? Your father? Or your brother?” asks Lacey.
He runs off just as Bobby joins them. Stands there starring at Lacey.
Joe comes with Jack looking ready for an actual fight.
Lacey eyes him. And they instantly fall in love when their eyes meet.
Not that it works out.
“Why would it?” asks Lacey, rolling her eyes.
“Well, at least you and Jack are friends?!” asks a woman.
“Are we though?!” asks Lacey in despair.
“Do you think he’s snubbing you?” asks a man.
“And all you want is his friendship???” asks a Boomer.
“Yes. Is that weird?” asks Lacey.
“No! No!” says an Englishman.
“But is it possible for a male and female to be friends?” asks Lacey. “Real friends.”
“Without marrying his father or older brother?” asks the Englishman.
“Or Lem?” asks Lem, agitated.
“Can he keep you otherwise?” asks his grandfather.
“Yes! Of course!!” says Lacey exasperated. “Isn’t it normal?!”
“To be a real friend without being in love at all?” asks Lem. “Romantically, physically, etc.?”
“Yes! Why isn’t that possible? Is it deviant?” asks Lacey.
“That’s the impression we’ve left? That you must be in love with Jack? And nobody can be actual friends?” asks a Boomer.
“No! Thank God! We’ve allowed her to run off with Louis or Michael? Maybe Harold.” says a gay man. “Whether we’re deviant or not, you’re welcome. We just couldn’t be that evil in regard to you, I guess?” they say to Lacey.
“Well, what about Lem?” asks Lacey.
“You’re right.” says a gay man.
“If Lem is straight and always was, then you have excellent gaydar. Which is intriguing since you’re straight.” says a gay man. “But I don’t know. I guess…”. He thinks. Closes his eyes. “He’s-He’s so mean!”
“But I think it was possibly an honest mistake.” says Lacey.
“If it was then I-I hope he-“
“Lem! Do tell. Please.” says Michael. “Why must one marry one of equal or better caliber to themselves?” asks Michael. “Although, a sexually arousing woman can be an exception if she’s kind and decent enough too, I guess. But…otherwise…why? Why must one be so careful?” asks Michael. “Because your determination is partially why Lacey didn’t think I exist. At all. You’ve trapped her in a heartless, ugly world of morons who eat shit for breakfast with giddy grins thinking they’ve got the world by the tail.”
“And you’re dead. And so are we.” says Louis.
“In a world that positively insists we don’t exist anymore!” says Michael, both in anger and sarcasm.
“Yes! Lem, why do you still possibly refuse to believe she’s real?” asks Scott.
“I think your sexuality is fascinating.” says Hemingway to Lem. Seriously. Not because Lem is gay. At all.