Two hours later, on a large, overstuffed cushion in an even larger, Victorian wicker easy chair on the porch, Margaret sat curled up, her legs tightly tucked beneath her body, her arms wrapped around her bosom, her left thumb stuck up under her upper lip. She had been sitting there like that, watching the cars that rove the night roads, for over an hour. She hadn’t moved once. She hadn’t allowed herself to even think of moving, think of anything really. She sat and watched and thought nothing about anything. Occasionally the door to the hallway would open and one or another of the apprentices would stick his or her head out, look at Margaret so tight and so silent, and retreat quickly to some other refuge in the building or on the grounds.
That was how Frank found her, just after one in the morning.
The night air had developed a chill of its own and the night callers had perked up, chirping in the darkness, calling out for one another. Fireflies danced on the lawn and in the trees and, at one particular point that Margaret could easily see, they filled the air with twinkling lights creating a heaven just for Margaret to be thrilled. She was staring into the miniature solar system when Frank approached her.
"You know, you were very good," he said softly. When she didn’t respond he reached down and touched her lightly on the shoulder. She looked away from her favorite living constellations and turned her face upward toward him. "You were very good," he said again.
"I don’t like the play," she said to him.
"Then why am I good in it?"
"Margaret never knows, does she," he said with a smile.
"What’s that supposed to mean?"
"You tell me. You say it often enough. You must know what it means."
Margaret moved in her chair and found that hre right arm and both her legs had fallen asleep. Movement was painful and she grimaced, hoping he wouldn’t see her do it. She hoped in vain.
"Do you need some help?"
"I’ll be all right. I’ve just been sitting there like that for far too long."
"Let me help you," he offered. He reached out to take her right arm, but it was just so much jam and jelly in his hands. There was no supporting her that way, so he instantly threw his left arm across her shoulders to hold her on her good side.
She found that she liked his arm there, that the support was excellent.
"Thanks," she said. "And Thelma Clover thanks you, too."
"Thelma Clover. My mother."
"Oh. Not Culver, then? Did I get it wrong for the program?"
"No, no. We use Culver. Mother prefers it."
"Another name change, Margaret. We seem to be full of them this summer."
"I know," she said. "Why do we do that?"
"It’s like your scene in the play, actually. Names say things about us that even our faces and voices don’t relay."
"Oh, yes, that Frank Morgan stuff. That’s clever, I suppose."
"No, not clever, practical. The union won’t allow two actors to have the same name, so sometimes you lose your own name, your born identity, to someone else who chose it, bought it really."
"We gave mine back to my father. In anger, I think," Margaret told him. "My mother thought that Culver made more sense if I was going to be an actress."
"There’s a book, and a movie too, called Marjorie Morningstar. It’s about an actress, about your age, who changes her name from Morgenstern - which means morning star - so that she can hide her religion and her ethnic background. She finds out how difficult that can be when she falls in love."
"Sounds a bit silly to me, Frank."
"It’s not. It has a reality, too."
"Thank you for the compliment, by the way. That helped me. Now."
"It wasn’t meant as a compliment, just a truth. You were good tonight. You have a flair for it, you know."
"Ah!" His voice was louder suddenly. "So Margaret actually does know, doesn’t she?"
"Don’t. Please." She felt a tear on her cheek, but she hadn’t been aware of one forming. "Don’t mock me, please."
"I wasn’t. Not really."
"You were. It felt as though you were."
"I wasn’t." He pulled her closer to him, his arm still gently draped over her shoulders. "Do you mind me doing this?"
"No. It’s much warmer this way, but..." She stopped abruptly as she realized that the air, the sky and the field had altered while they’d been talking. The fireflies were gone, or had somehow shut off their lovely little twinklers. "Where did they go?"
"Where did who go?"
"My field of starlights. Where are they?"
"I believe they’re in your eyes, Margaret," he said as he bent forward to give her the gentlest of kisses. Their lips met for an instant, parted and then drifted closer to one another again. They joined in a kiss that included heavy breathing and shutting eyelids. Margaret’s eyes brought back the missing field of stars as he held her in this sweet embrace.
When they finally broke apart and she moved a step out of his grasp, she said, "You’re not a boy, are you, Frank?"
"Can’t you tell?"
"I don’t know, but I think you’re the first man I ever kissed."
"Don’t." He stopped after the one word, then instantly took up the response again. "Don’t fall in love with me, Margaret. It might not be right."
"If I don’t try it, I’ll never know," she said. "It’s like the part in this play - I didn’t like it, didn’t want it, but I’m good at it. Maybe I’d be good with you, too."
"Don’t, baby," he murmured, honestly unsure whether he had gone too far or not.
"I think I have to, Frank," she reassured him. "If I don’t I might be stuck forever with ‘Margaret never knows, does she.’ I don’t want that for my whole life. I want to be sure of something, even if its only a temporary something. At least it would be something." She tried to smile at him, but her face retained its more serious aspects.
"Well, if you’re serious.." (She slapped him hard on his shoulder), "serious..." (she did it again), "what are you doing?"
"You always bang your hand down when you say serious, Frank."
And that got him to laugh and he took both of her hands in both of his and he pulled her toward him and they kissed again.
"And Margaret never knows, does she?" she thought to herself, "and Margaret doesn’t care."