Showing Lily wallowing in discontent in the rain.

It was Oregon in March, and it seemed like it had been raining since October. Any true Oregonian comes to have affection for the rain at times, but when it hardly lets up for six months it's about as welcome as a manic-depressive friend fond of uttering disastrous prophecies for the future who comes to live with you. Lily was sitting on the porch swing drinking tea, watching the rain and thinking up disastrous prophecies for herself. Lily's cycle had swung from manic to depressive, and now she was entering a period of Crisis: she had turned twenty-nine and was pushing thirty. Twenty-nine--and she still hadn't enjoyed the fulfillment of biology. Lily was slightly depressed and slightly bothered by the feeling that she would have to make some major decisions soon--and they might not involve Adam. Only where else would she get a father for the children who would put the ticking of the biological clock to an end?

Then there was that other business. Myrine had been acting very strangely lately while dropping more cynical comments about men than usual. The worst of it was when Adam was up for the weekend -- Myrine had been positively unfriendly. Diana hadn't been much better. Apparently everyone knew something she didn't, and she would be the last to find out. Adam had hardly dispelled her fears with all his talk about individual freedom. Lily was reminded of a T-shirt she had once seen in a record store: "If you love somebody, set them free. If they don't come back, hunt them down and shoot them." Not that she wanted to shoot anyone, least of all Adam--but so much for freedom.

Maybe there really was something to the notion that men and women lived in different worlds, that men were the next best thing to a different species. Mercy's rape had been a major shock for Lily, more it seemed than for Diana or Myrine. Sometimes Lily felt like the only inhabitant of Amazon House who had depressions at all. Diana sang songs full of suffering, but Lily had never seen her suffer much. Myrine kept troubles at bay with her biting tongue. Myrine was acerbic and Diana was oblivious.

Lily hadn't been raped, she hadn't even been harassed except for the occasional friendly pat on the butt from a fellow teacher, but Mercy's experience was too close for comfort. Men you knew weren't supposed to do things like that, only maniacs and psychopaths. And now the incident only seemed like one more detail to add to Lily's own misery. When it rains it pours. Lily looked out at the sheet of water beyond the porch.

But Mercy had real problems, not just imaginary or unconfirmed ones. And Mercy was doing much better since the battle lines had been clarified and George had turned into a concrete enemy to fight against. Maybe if Lily had a real battle to fight she would be doing better too. Everything was so vague--she couldn't get a handle on it. And how was she supposed to deal with it when she couldn't even get at it? What Lily needed was a real problem.