We're taking another glimpse into the life of Becky, an urban teenager who finds herself living in a traditional family out in the middle of nowhere. Click here to read the previous part.
Everything about Catherine annoys me: her ridiculous dresses, her braids, her knitting and her piano practice. But more than anything, it drives me crazy how she always looks happy about everything. And remember that she spent all her life in this miserable place, with no entertainment but books and needlework! Maybe she's just pretending? I decided to check this.
It was late in the evening, and we were already in our beds. The room was dark, and only Catherine's bedside lamp was still on. As always, she was praying before bedtime. That was when I decided to drop my bomb.
- Catherine, - I started, - Have you ever had a boyfriend?
You'd think I asked her whether she wanted to pose for "Playboy". She got beetroot-red, and only shook her head silently.
- Well, I had a boyfriend back home. - I said, - His name was Ted, and he was really handsome. I met him through Jane, my best friend. I knew right away he liked me. I was wearing a miniskirt and knee-high boots, and Jane spent nearly an hour doing my hair and make-up that evening. He was looking at me all evening, but he had to have a few drinks before he was bold enough to ask me to dance. Later he invited me for a ride in his car. He had his own car, you see, - I added.
- He drank and then drove?! - Catherine was staring at me with horror. I decided to to tease her.
- Yes, but you know, he wasn't very drunk, - actually he wasn't drunk at all, Ted is always sober no matter how much alcohol he has in him, - we went for a ride, later he stopped at a quiet spot and kissed me. That was my first French kiss. - I decided not to tell what he immediately tried to do next. Catherine was close to fainting anyway.
- Later we went steady. We were seeing each other often, riding around in his car, we went to movies and parties. Naturally, we broke up when I moved here. But it's nothing, I already started getting tired of him anyway. And you, Catherine, would you like to have a boyfriend?
As if it matters, I thought, whether she wants to have a boyfriend or not! First, there aren't any guys remotely close to our age around here, and second, who would want to go out with her anyway?
- I will never have a boyfriend. - she said.
- Never? But you do want to get married someday, don't you? - Even ugly women get married, and she's not ugly, just really... plain.
- Of course, Becky. I want to get married someday and have many children. But I don't need to have a boyfriend for that. Mother says that she and Dad will be involved in finding the right young man for me. If they approve, we will start getting to know each other, and if everything goes well, we will get married. And we will not kiss or hold hands or remain alone until we are married, it's not supposed to be done, you know.
Oh well, I thought, I knew it's only a matter of time before what I do is subtly criticized. I had nothing more to say. I closed my eyes and pretended I'm falling asleep. But then I heard Catherine's voice again.
- This is the first time you talked about your life before you came here, Becky.
I turned my head towards her. I told myself that if I see pity, I will not say another word, but she just looked interested. Of course, living here and being homeschooled, how many new people does she meet every year? Two or three?
- There's not much to tell, really. I had a normal life, just like everybody else. School, friends, shopping, going out on weekends. My parents were lawyers and both worked long hours, so when I was little, my Grandma often came to watch over me, and later I was left mostly to myself. You never knew them, right?
Catherine shook her head.
- Well, both my parents were pretty ambitious and wanted me to succeed, they could afford to send me to a good private school and I had good grades, so we didn't have too many confrontations. Even in the evenings, when we sat in the living room together, they would often pull out their laptops and browse emails from clients, or some legal documents.
- And when they didn't work? Did you, for example, do anything together as a family?
- My Dad loved photography. That is, theoretically, because he never actually had time for it, but he liked to look at expensive cameras when we were out at the mall. I would then go to look at clothes with Mom. Mom usually bought herself a new business suit every week or two, had a different shade of lipstick to go with each, and always looked very sharp when she was ready to go to the office. Other than that... well, my parents never used all their allotted vacation time. It's not like they never wanted to get away from work for a while, we often talked about the big family trip we planned to take in the future, but somehow when Dad could take a few weeks off, things would get really hectic at my Mom's office, and when it would all calm down, Dad would be busy again, and so it just never happened.
I paused for a few moments, then added:
- I'm sure they would put more of an effort into it if they knew how little time they had left. But they couldn't possibly know, could they?
All of a sudden I realized how miserable I sound. I didn't want to go on. I faked a yawn and pulled the blanket up.
- Well, just look at the time. I'm so tired, aren't you? Good night, Catherine.