Today I'm going to continue writing out Becky's story, the first part of which I published last week. Thank you for expressing your interest in reading it.
I got several questions about why there aren't enough descriptions of setting and details. The answer is simple: what I'm publishing here is a sketch, and I'm thinking about details as I write. There are many parts about which I haven't decided yet. For example, I went back and forth trying to decide whether Becky should be Jewish. Making her non-Jewish would perhaps appeal to a larger audience, but would probably lack authenticity. I thought of getting away with a vague religious identity, but that would undoubtedly raise questions, and besides, it's difficult not to mention anything about such an integral part of people's lives. And if the family is Jewish, how much emphasis I should put on the religious aspect of their lives? And so on and so forth. I'm still doubtful about that last point.
Anyway, here goes the second part...
Aunt Anne is nicer than I expected, well, for an adult anyway. She has soft brown eyes which crinkle at the corners when she smiles, and she always looks relaxed and fresh as though she just stepped out of the shower. She met me at the airport and it was obvious she was fighting tears. I was grateful she didn't cry then and there. These days people cry buckets whenever they see me, and it doesn't make me feel any better.
Anyway, Aunt Anne hugged me and told me that she will do all it takes for me to feel "just like one of her own children." She was dressed in an ankle-length skirt and wore a hat, but at the moment neither this, nor the "like one of her children" comment arose my suspicions. Had I anticipated what was to come, I'd grab my suitcases, run to the nearest phone booth, call Grandma and beg her to send me a return ticket.
Uncle Ben was waiting for us in the car. He is a big strong man with a bushy mustache and booming voice, but he uses it (his voice, not his mustache) only when he really needs to. I've never met anyone who talks so little. But at least he didn't cry when he looked at me!
And off we went. "Not far," said Aunt Anne. I looked around. We were driving down a narrow country road, with farms here and there and not a sight of town. Oh no, I thought. Goodbye, movie theaters, malls, night clubs where I could get in with Ted even though I'm not 16 yet. The area is pretty, though. Especially to the taste of those who like Little House on the Prairie. I never fancied it.
It was then that I found out something that cheered me up a lot. I kept thinking - how will I go to school when it's so far? When I asked Aunt Anne, she told me that all her children - and me too - are signed up for a home education program. I could dance with joy! To study at home is nothing like going to school, I can always do nothing and get away with it. Goodbye, school uniform, boring lessons, and annoying teachers!
Finally, Uncle Ben's old minivan stopped and we got out. We were in front of a big old house with a red tiled roof, standing in the midst of a neatly kept garden. I didn't have much time to look around at the old trees and flowerbeds and the distant vegetable patches, because my cousins came out to meet us. Aunt Anne and Uncle Ben have five children - David, their eldest, turned 18 and recently started his first year in college to become a veterinarian. He will only be home for winter break and summer vacation. But the other four - Catherine (14), Samuel (10), Nathan (8) and Rachel (4) still live at home.
Catherine (otherwise known as Rina) is nearest to me in age. Her long braided hair and eyebrows are the color of straw, and she has big round blue eyes. She was smiling from ear to ear when she saw me, as if she has been waiting her entire life to meet me. She was wearing a long and loose cotton printed dress of an impossible style that fell to her ankles. I've never seen a more ridiculous dress in my life. If someone in my class came to school wearing something like that, I'd laugh and ask if she forgot to look in the mirror this morning. But because we just met I bit my tongue and tried to keep a straight face.
- Welcome, Becky. We'll be best friends, you'll see, - said Catherine.
Yeah, right, I thought.
Uncle Ben and the boys took hold of my suitcases, and together we all started walking towards the house.