Showing how Roxana is bullied out of her misery.

"Roxana, you need a little distraction," Lyssa said. "Why don't you get involved in some of the activities again?" They were sitting in Roxana's living room with its black and white decor to match her photographs. Hanging on the wall behind Roxana's head was an enlargement of the curves between hip and breast which demonstrated an uncanny resemblance to the Oregon dunes, and on the opposite wall behind Lyssa was a barn door.

"I don't like mass movements," Roxana said.

"It's not only mass, it's individual as well. You of all people should know that." Roxana remained stubbornly silent. "Besides, it's exhilarating," Lyssa added.

"Then go and exhilarate yourself and leave me out of it."

"Well, at least you could get out there and take some pictures for me," Lyssa coaxed, adopting a tone of mock complaint.

"I'm taking sick leave," Roxana replied. She certainly did look sick, and every year her age--at least. She had abandoned her usual layer of dramatic makeup, and she was getting skinnier by the day. When Roxana was having problems it went straight to her stomach. It went straight to Lyssa's too, but in the form of culinary compensation. During her rare bouts of depression, Lyssa had expanded like a blimp. Roxana looked like a scarecrow.

"Roxy, you've got to do something," Lyssa pleaded.

"Like what?" Roxana asked in a tone of unflinching apathy, moving nothing more than one skeptical eyebrow.

"Get a new lover?" To her credit, Lyssa proposed this universal remedy with something less than conviction.

"My standards are too high," Roxana said witheringly.

"Now, really, Roxana, there are a lot of fantastic women in this city."

"And they're all hetero."

"Surely not all," Lyssa said, leaning forward encouragingly.

"Then the ones that aren't are in hiding." The way she said it, Roxana didn't care if they all came out of hiding tomorrow.

"Are your sexual preferences so fixed?"

"You'd better not try to convince me there are a lot of fantastic men in this city," Roxana objected mildly.

"Well, there certainly are some," Lyssa insisted.

"Not in my age bracket. And even if there are, they're taken." Roxana sighed and shook her head, but not at the thought of all the desirable men who were unavailable. Her friend was starting to get on her nerves. Lyssa was being terribly sweet, visiting her regularly between engagements, and Roxana was grateful for the show of affection, but she didn't want a pep talk. "Look, Lyssa, I don't need any lectures on the power of love or the physical relief of mere sexual fulfillment or any of that garbage. I just want to wallow in my misery."

"Okay, Roxy, have it your way," Lyssa said, getting up and looking at her watch. "I have to get down to the office for a meeting with Carrie anyway. She's giving a talk at another rally on the weekend."

"See? You have enough to do without me."

Lyssa looked at her seriously. "But I would like to have you with me."

"Well, I'm not against you, you can be assured of that," Roxana said with more enthusiasm than she had been able to muster all afternoon. She seemed about to say more when the doorbell rang.

"I'll get it. I'm already up," Lyssa said.

She opened the door to a whirlwind as blond as her mother was black, and just as artificially. The letter had achieved something, but as Lyssa watched Daphne storm by she wasn't sure whether that was good or bad.

"Where's my mom?" Daphne asked shortly as she swept past Lyssa into the apartment. Lyssa pointed to the overstuffed black couch beneath the female curves where Roxana was sprawled apathetically.

"What the hell have you been up to, mother?" Daphne raged, descending on her parent, who sat up straighter at the furious approach.

"What do you care anyway, daughter mine?" Roxana replied aggressively as Daphne stopped before her, dropping a travelling bag at her feet.

"Enough to come down 170 miles as soon as anyone saw fit to tell me what kind of idiotic stunts you've been up to!" Daphne stormed, standing above her mother like an avenging fury. "And what if you'd pulled it off? Did you want me to suffer from a guilty conscience for the rest of my life?"

"Your father maybe, but not you," Roxana objected, the light returning to her dull eyes. Lyssa watched in amazement as Roxana came back to life within mere seconds. Lyssa had been using the wrong strategy entirely. But even if she had known the right strategy to take, she doubted if she would have been able to hurl abuse the way these two did.

"Come on, Roxy, you're well rid of that nerd, and you know it. He's not even worth getting revenge on," Daphne said.

"See you at the office tomorrow?" Lyssa said hopefully.

"Lyssa, I told you..."

"Hey, that would be great!" Daphne said, irony forgotten. "You guys are famous now, you know."

"Two against one is not fair," Roxana complained. As far a Lyssa could tell, Roxana loved every minute of it. Lyssa slipped out of the door with a smile, leaving mother and daughter to their own harsh devices.

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