Worthy Sisters: Rosalind & the Star Childe

Rosalind Worthy graduated high school in 1968 and had no doubt where she wanted to attend college. Growing up, she admired computer pioneer Grace Hopper, and, in high school, was one of only two women in Math and Science club. Her mother, who professionally retained her family’s name, had always provided the example of a woman in the workplace and her father encouraged the girls to pursue their passions. Rosalind’s was computing. As she neared graduation, she applied and was accepted for studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

As her departure date approached, she was wary of the effect her absence would have on their family. Rosalind was concerned with how her sister Regan and their mother always clashed and frequently intervened in their squabbles as her father had done. Having her baby sister Rhiannon around only exacerbated the tension. Regan’s trip to Paris several years earlier had a profound effect on her, which she’d been reluctant to discuss with her Little Sis. The sisters have not been separated again since her return.

“Are you two going to be okay while I’m gone?” Rosalind asked Regan the night before she left for school.

“I suspect we’ll get along as well as we always do.”

“Take your medicine. You’ll be fine.”

“You sound like Father, now. The medicine only lowers the volume a bit. I’m still restless and jittery. Still constantly up and down.”

“I can’t imagine what that’s like.”

“Of course not, Little Sis. You’re the rational side of our collective conscience. The medicine doesn’t make me more creative. Or any less crazy, as Mother is fond of saying.”

With or without the pills, Regan was a talented artist and attended classes at the Seattle Art Academy, where they were teaching her to become a commercial illustrator. Though she had a talent for it and was learning a lot, she always complained to Rosalind she hated it.

“They have me drawing ads to go in magazines. Where’s the value in that?”

“You could make an awful lot of money,” Rosalind reminds her.

“There’s more to life than money, Little Sis.”

After reading a book called The Hidden Persuaders, Regan told Rosalind she’d started sneaking hidden erotic images into her artwork.

“No one’s the wiser, Little Sis. I may start enjoying advertising after all.”

Moving to the East Coast gave Rosalind the opportunity to connect with her mother’s family, the Padgetts. Her first free weekend, she visited her grandparents and her aunt Evangeline, whose youngest daughter, Barbara, was Rhiannon’s age. The family is Catholic and invited Rosalind to join them at Mass. Regan had mentioned the possibility to Rosalind, and she assured her Big Sis she had no interest in taking on the religious trappings of her extended family.

“I doubt they’d let me take Communion anyway, since Mother left the fold and never raised us in the faith.”

“One of the few things Dear Mother got right,” Regan said.

At some point, late in Rosalind’s freshman year at MIT, Regan decided to forego treatment, and this lead to her spending many hours locked in the loft her mother was leasing for her near the waterfront in Seattle. She stopped taking classes, but never formally dropped out of the Academy. Reports from their mother about Regan’s behavior prompted an unscheduled visit by Rosalind during a break from classes. She headed to the warehouse where Regan’s loft was located where she found her Big Sis looking thinner than what was considered healthy, and jittery, with a determined look in her eyes.

“I’m afraid they might be coming for me, Little Sis. They want to take her away from me.”

“Who?” Rosalind said. “Who’s coming? Who are they trying to take away?” She goes to the cupboard and finds it empty. “Have you eaten anything?”

“No time,” Regan said. “I — I’ve got to work.”

“What the hells’ gotten into you? Mother said you’re not taking your medication.”

“I’m never taking it again. It keeps me from hearing her.”

“Who? Who’s this mysterious person?”

In response, Regan grasped Rosalind’s hands. “See for yourself.”

Regan guided her into the gallery where Rosalind was stunned into silence by what she saw there. The walls were covered with canvases, maybe a hundred or more, all depicting the same subject, a woman, with long, fiery hair, her facial features obscured. A blue glow emanated from her empty eye sockets. In some paintings, a bow and quiver were over her shoulder and her poses were active and exuded confidence and strength.

The drawings and canvases were mounted in a rough chronological order, showing the progression from crude pencil sketches to the largest canvas, which was very elaborate, incorporating the alchemic elements of earth, air, fire, and water. Surrounding the central figure were thirteen six-pointed stars.

“She’s beautiful,” Rosalind managed.

“She’s the Star Childe, Genevieve.” She released Rosalind’s hands and returned to her easel. “She sings to me in my dreams. I can’t show her face, because she lives after my time.”

Rosalind pulled her gaze away from the paintings and returned to her sister.

“You need to be careful, Big Sis. Mother’s talking about sending you away again.”

“You have to stop her. Tell her whatever she needs to hear. You can’t let her take Genevieve from me. I’m not losing her again.”

“Again? When did it happen before?”

“Never mind.”

She continued painting.

“Listen. I’m going to go down to the corner and get you something to eat.”

“Do what you have to do. I can’t leave her. Not now. This is what I was meant to do, Little Sis. Don’t you understand?”

Rosalind went to a deli a block away and bought Regan a hoagie and a soda. It took a massive effort on her part to convince Regan to stop painting long enough to eat, but she finally succeeded.

“I’m going to pick up some supplies at the grocery,” she told Regan. “Stuff like chips and cookies that you can eat on the go.

“Sure,” Regan said, concentrating on the canvas.

“I want you to eat them. Okay?”

Regan turned to her. “I will, Little Sis. I promise.”

After stocking up the kitchen, Rosalind returned home and assured her mother that Regan was doing okay. Abigail was skeptical but agreed to hold off any further action. A few days later, Rosalind returned to school.

Some months afterward, Abigail, fed up with Regan’s unpredictable behavior, had her declared incompetent and hospitalized. The story relayed to Rosalind was that Regan needed art supplies, but Abigail cut off her allowance, so Regan tried to steal them. She became so belligerent when police arrived that she was taken for a psychiatric evaluation. When Abigail was informed, she contacted her attorney to look into a more permanent solution.

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