She climbed into the middle of the front garden and took a deep breath, trying to calm down amid the flowers and the fat, droning bees. The annuals were at their full height and blooming furiously, as if they knew this was their last chance to set seed before the frost — just like her, really. She sank down onto a little boulder that jutted from the slope, surrounded by black-eyed susans and cosmos and great clumps of peony foliage, and went through what she was beginning to think of as her mantra: She wouldn’t starve. The baby wouldn’t starve. There was free food if she needed it. There was welfare. There were homeless shelters. She’d survive. In the end, she’d probably be stronger for having coped with adversity.
Yes, she’d be an incredibly wise, strong, horsy-looking old crone who dressed her kid in thrift store clothes and would never let any asshole man screw up her life ever again.
“So you accept homosexuality, but extramarital sex is a sin.”
“But these homosexuals are having extramarital sex.”
“But it’s a catch-22 if they’re not allowed to marry. So I don’t judge them, unless they’re promiscuous, in which case I suppose I judge them as I would anybody who sleeps around.”
Mary winced, aware that her own recent behavior wouldn’t bear close examination. Still, she appreciated that his views on this matter were now out there between them and settled. Obviously, he didn’t expect to get laid tonight.
On the other hand, Arthur had had a personal rule about only having one glass of wine. She’d had a personal rule about having sex with married men. She had a bit less faith in resolutions these days. If she were truly evil, she thought, she might try to seduce Winslow just to see if she could.
“You’re not anti-gay, are you?” He looked concerned.
“Me? No, not at all.” She resisted the temptation to add that she was, in fact, pro-fornication.
“Now, did you attend church as a child?” Bert asked.
“Oh yes. I was raised Catholic.”
“Well, there’s your problem,” Bert said earnestly. “No wonder that didn’t grab ya. You come to prayer meeting with me sometime. I’ve seen many a lost soul transformed by the spirit of God and born again in the love of Christ, right in front of all of us!”
Winslow sighed and asked Mary, “You want some coffee with your pie?”
“No, I had to come down here to save you from yourself,” Bert snapped. “Jeezum crow, you almost had me falling for it, too, all your protestations about the sanctity of marriage. I should have known an Episcopalian wouldn’t have the wherewithal to resist the temptations of the flesh.”
“Do you honestly think of yourself as a slut?”
“No, but do real sluts ever really think they’re sluts?
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