as if a burden on her shoulder was being lifted. If she stared long
enough into space, she saw a
flicker of light at the end of the tunnel.
At 8:00 the next morning, Hannah called Celeste Harrington at the
Learning Center. She told her
Hannah and Tommy couldn't believe that at their first meeting,
Denise was discussing her
sex life as matter-of-factly as she would describe the weather in
"But I'm really worried about David. He has emphysema from
smoking two, three pa
warmly when they met by chance, but one Sunday morning, there
was a knock at the door. It
Hey neighbors. I thought it was time we got to know each other.
How about coming over
for lunch later?
Hannah replied, Wed love to get to know you,
provide daycare until 6:00. About 80% of our kids are Eskimos and
the rest are non-native
middle class kids who serve as role models. Our teachers are trained
for a year by apprenticing
to one of our master teachers. That way we control the curriculum
me a reason, any reason, to like you and I will. And Hannah gave her
many reasons to be liked.
Eventually Celeste would become Hannahs best friend. She would
become the Alaskan
version of Kelly, but their relationship would be based not on ye
could never have an MRI, shed be sucked into the machine. Shes
different, but I think maybe
shes more typical of the people in Fairbanks than we are. Everyone
is different here. I was
hoping that maybe we could develop some sort of friendsh
"I'll start on these as soon as I leave."
"And here is information about our school. This includes our mission
statement and a
description of our target population and our educational goals. And
this is our curriculum guide
for our program at each instruc
certainly need to do something with your hair. Its a mess."
She was right. Hannah hadnt had her hair cut in a beauty shop
since two weeks before
Kellys wedding. Denise walked over to Hannah, undid her pony tail
holder, and ran her hands
When Hannah was with her students, she lived in an alternate
universe, immersing herself
in their lives, never thinking of the outside world. In Lewiston, she
wanted to create a perfect
world for her students. In Alaska, there was no perfect world
because a teacher just up and quit last Friday, right before the
beginning of school.
Hannah was electrified by the words "she needs to hire another
teacher." It hit her like a
bolt of lightning. That was what she needed to do. Teach.
I was a kind
which I'm sure you can get if you have Virginia licensure. But more
importantly, you don't
know our curriculum or the instructional methods we use. If I hire
you, I'm thinking of possibly
placing you and another apprentice together in the four
"Babies in utero are supposed to hear sounds. Obviously they can't
understand words, but I
bet they can understand the tone of voices. We probably heard
Brooke screaming at people. We
heard the venom in her voice. T.J. hears our
the room might have thought that they had heard the worlds
funniest joke, but they were
laughing at possibility, the possibility that life might again be good.
Hannah spent the rest of the week doing the paperwork for licensure
problems Leslie might suddenly evidence because of her parentage.
But Ralph pronounced her
healthy and then presented her with her choice of a sticker of a dog
or a cat. She chose the cat.
At their next appointment, they learned that they were having
have to go several thousand miles south to see one. They should
compare him to the Alaskan
rabbit thats white in winter and brown in summer. That would be
more appropriate for an
After the tour, they sat down for chili while the children
learned that all were from homes below the poverty level with
unemployed or absent parents;
all had significant health problems, ranging from fetal alcohol
syndrome spectrum disorder to
attention deficit disorder to asthma to childhood diabetes; and all
doesnt paint her like she really is. He paints her as plump, but Ive
seen pictures of her. Shes
not plumb. She grossly fat. Of course, Ive only seen photos of her. I
havent seen her in
person. I think if we met, shed hit me. Shes jealous of me. She
with most of the people she had met in Alaska so far, but when she
entered Celeste's sphere,
she was transformed back into the outgoing, verbal child she had
been in Virginia. Celeste and
Leslie discussed the cartoon characters on Celeste's smock. After a
He charges $500 to $1,000 for each one and he gives me 20% of the
sale price so I make pretty
good money from posing. I met David four years ago when he came
in for a haircut at the
beauty shop where I work. He told me that I was the most beautiful
nicely furnished apartment. But they didn't look at the furniture;
instead, their eyes were
immediately drawn to the bold oil paintings of a nude Denise
gracing the walls. They had the
feeling that they were in an art gallery where people just happened
handle it. So
I'm interested in having you work here, but only if you think you can
give us what we need. I
know you'll say the right words now, but only time will tell if you'll
We're affiliated with the University education and psychology
theyre not pregnant too. We dont get the kids with the extreme
problems because they go into
special ed classes in the schools, but we do get kids with milder
problems who aren't
developing on schedule. Leslie would be a good role model because
impending cold weather dampen the promises that this little school
might hold for her.
The school was housed in a one story, concrete building several
blocks from the Evans
duplex. On the scrawny lawn in front of the school, there was a large
sign with th
I was a teacher in the Fairbanks schools for six years. I had designed
a curriculum on
Eskimo culture that was adopted by the schools for first through
third grades. I also wrote some
children's books on Eskimos that were illustrated by another teacher.
devoted herself to her foundation. She channels most of her money
into health care, education,
and preserving Eskimo culture. When she was young, she was a
teacher in California so she
appreciates the importance of education. Since living up her
I told you not to make any decisions without checking with me
Oh Tommy, I couldnt wait. I needed this so much. I couldnt wait.
This isnt like when I
went to see Brooke Brock. I couldnt wait for you. I had to know
immediately that I could do
university. She didnt ask about Tommy and Hannah who were
prepared to tell the lies about
why they had moved to Alaska. She was interested only in her
listeners' ears, not their lives.
She was delivering a lecture on Denise Hale, and didnt welcome
plan, part of the universe.
Hannah tried the door to the Northern Lights Learning Center, but it
was locked. She saw
a security lock, but didn't know the code so she rang the doorbell.
Through the windows next to
the door, she saw a woman eme
okay for me
to do this. Please.
What about being pregnant?
You know I have more energy when Im pregnant than when Im
not. It wouldnt be a
If working makes you feel better, I supposed its okay. I hadnt
really considered it. Go
ahead and contact th
the most beautiful Virginia belle in all of Alaska."
"And the only one."
For the first time since they moved to Fairbank, they made afternoon
love. Perhaps because
of her pregnancy or their sensual experience with Denise or the
prospect of having