If you liked someone, thought Helen, the polite thing to do was not to lure them far away with you, then hint that you want to have sex. Ideally, you should spend time talking with them and find out if they like you also. Then, you may choose to pursue a relationship with them.
In fact, thought Helen, luring someone that you barely knew to going alone in the woods with you seemed like a scary and asshole-like thing to do.
So what was Raymond doing here? Had he slipped past the commune's 'asshole detector' and now could not be sent away? Or was this a . . . Helen tried to think of what word she wanted to put there, and settled on two . . . momentary lapse, and he was usually a wonderful and considerate human being? Or had the people at Shangri-La been desperate for volunteers to join them in their boycott of main stream society, and willing to take everyone that showed up?
That set off Helen to wonder on another point. How had they all gotten here? It was possible that they had bused, and then walked, but there were many materials and animals that needed to be brought here. She and Mary had found it hard enough to sneak a cat on a bus. Helen smirked at the idea of someone trying to smuggle a cow on the Greyhound bus.
So they could not have all taken the bus. But there were no cars out here. That left getting a ride with a friend who was not going to be staying out here. Helen tried to imagine how one could ask one's friend for that ride, and not insult them. "Listen, no offence, but I'm sick of interacting with people here, so I want to go join a farming commune and reject all this technology and this idleness that has corrupted and stupified everyone. So, will you give me a ride out there?" Helen decided that there probably was not a polite way to ask that, unless the friend of yours wanted to go themselves, but couldn't, for some reason. And in that case, leaving them behind, all alone, all surrounded by assholes, with no one for company, would be unbelievably cruel. It would be better to stay with them, live it out together.
It's not like the world didn't contain joy for me, thought Helen, it's more that, well . . . Mary and I needed to get away. Helen corrected this thought almost as soon as it entered her head. No, she realized, Mary needed to get away. I was never in any real danger, like Mary was. Helen was the one who chose the location, who got Mary to agree that this would be a good place to go, and she did not even need to leave.
I got her to come here, thought Helen. Why? I got her to let me tag along. Why didn't we just move to another city? Or even to the other side of town? Why didn't I let Mary decide for herself, instead of influencing greatly?
I know, whispered a shamed voice of Helen. I know why. Because she looks like she needs help. She looks like she needs someone to decide for her. She looks like she needs a guardian, someone to take care of her, to comfort her.
She's a human being, not a doll! Helen screamed at herself, ashamed and disgusted at the way she had unconsciously been treating Mary. She had been through a traumatic experience, so maybe Mary needed a bit of help, to find out what her options were. But Mary had not needed to be told where to go. Sure, Mary had been enthusiastic about going to Shangri-La, but what other options had Helen presented her with? None. None at all.
But thoughout all this, had Mary complained? Had she commented or objected? No. It's probably what she is used to, thought Helen, guessing at how Sophia had treated Mary. I've been treating her like Sophia did.
How can I stop, wondered Helen. How can I treated her with the respect she deserves?
Well, commented a wry thought of Helen's, you can stop telling the story of Mary's life like it's some kind of soap opera.