Tara's insane body at poolside, wearing a tangerine bikini, all alone for all she knows. She giggles, dipping in a toe at first, afraid of pleasure, afraid it's not real, that the gold will turn to cinders and dry leaves. The water ripples out, as she swims. She laughs and splashes, like a little girl. The first little girl, the one who was hurt: that's what Nancy wanted and Lettie Mae never did; she's what Miss Jeanette tried to possess. It's what Maryann wants for her tribute. Breakfast was amnesia, not apology: but Tara hasn't eaten yet. Inside, though, the piggish fairies have upped the ante considerably: food on every table, a cornucopia of delights, squat toroid southern peaches fat with juice, fruit of every kind, from the garden of the world. Lush, dementedly so, fecund and blessed and abundant: the dreams of a child who's spent her life starving: you could expect bees buzzing there in the richness, after all this time with only flies. Too much life after all this death.
In the parlor, a man plays the guitar: soulful with a spark in his eyes, teasing beautiful sounds up into the quiet. He sounds like the food smells, with a quiet face. Tara closes her robe suddenly, shocked out of the garden, and considers him, apologizing. "You must be Tara," he says, and invites her in. He stands and introduces himself: Benedict "Eggs" Talley, full of secrets and a light inside. Benedict, the old betrayer, introduces himself to Tara: the homeland, the territory, the old debated ancestral home, passed from hand to hand. "Suits you," he says, calling it a pretty name. She is beautiful and she is contested. She must not go hungry again. She wavers, imagining that he is Maryann's boyfriend, and he shrugs: he's just like Tara, contested, getting back on his feet. "So collecting stray black people, that some kind of hobby of hers?" Eggs laughs, like a strum, and says Maryann warned him Tara was funny. And what else? What secrets? "She said you crashed your car with a gallon of whiskey in your lap?" They sit and Tara admits it was vodka: "Really cheap vodka." She looks away and down, and he swears he isn't judging her story. "Believe me, all right, when Maryann found me I was..." He stares into the distance, caught in memory and the night that made him. Once there was a little boy.