Monday, August 17, 2009

The big surprise

To read the previous part, click here.

Today we washed the windows. I'm so tired!

Ever since Aunt Anne told me her story, I keep looking at Uncle Ben, trying to understand what is it about him that made her leave everything behind. She was only three years older than I am now. If, three years from now, I go to college and meet someone I really like – really, really like – someone I fall in love with – will I be able to renounce my
life and go live someplace like here, if he asks me to? I don't know.

I still had many questions to ask Aunt Anne after that conversation and I planned to corner her sometime today, but when I went down to breakfast I saw that Catherine is making eggs and toast, Samuel is sweeping the kitchen floor, Nathan is setting the table and Rachel, with an important-looking air, is handing him plates from the lowest drawer.

- Where is Aunt Anne? – I asked.

- Mom went to town, to see her doctor, - said Catherine. She sounded worried. – She isn't feeling well lately. Dad will probably take her home sometime around lunch.

I thought that if Aunt Anne isn't around, we could at least skip schoolwork, but there was no way Catherine would agree. So we went ahead and started working on our algebra assignments. It has been a while since I stopped being happy about not having to go to school. School would at least mean a change of air, seeing some new people, not being stuck in this house all the time. I could have new friends; who knows, I could even meet some nice-looking guys!

It was pouring since early morning, so I could even go out and paint my landscapes during the bleak hours between breakfast and lunch. I It was very quiet. Catherine was making a casserole in the kitchen, Sam and Nathan were still busy with schoolwork and Rachel was playing dolls on the living room floor.

Because I had nothing to do, I started drawing a sketch of Rachel's profile. At first I simply doodled absent-mindedly, and then I found myself paying more attention to the outline. I've never done any portraits before, but I think the result was not so bad after all. When Catherine emerged from the kitchen, wiping her hands on her apron, she took one look at my work and became ecstatic.

- This is wonderful, Becky! – she exclaimed.

- It's nothing, - I mumbled, covering the sketch with my hand. I still decided to keep it, though.

Aunt Anne and Uncle Ben did return right in time for lunch. I helped Catherine set the table, and it was then that Aunt Anne finally released their big news: it turns out she is expecting a baby.

- I'm already eight weeks along, imagine that! – she said, - And I didn't even start suspecting anything until last week.

Even Uncle Ben, unlike his usual custom, talked a lot and very excitedly while we ate lunch.

- Now you must help your mother even more, children, - he said. – She mustn't over-exert herself.

And Catherine was already going on about how Rachel's room must be cleared up to make space for the baby, and that the walls must be painted, and that she's going to sew new curtains, and take out Rachel's old crib out of the basement, and which things she plans to knit for the baby.

- Do you want a boy or a girl, Mom? – she asked.

- Anything will be welcome, my dear, - smiled Aunt Anne. – Well, I think I'll go and call David, and later I'll lie down and try to take a nap, I'm feeling tired again.

And it became quiet once more. The boys and Rachel went to play in the garden. Catherine went off to her room, no doubt to choose between different shades of pastel-colored yarns. Uncle Ben disappeared in his working room, and Aunt Anne went upstairs to their bedroom, holding the phone in her hand and dialing David's number as she went. I began to clean up the kitchen, and through the gentle clinking of dishes in the sink, I could hear Aunt Anne's animated voice from upstairs, talking excitedly to David. I was left alone with my thoughts.


Jana said...

I'll admit it. I'm addicted to this story! Help! I want to know more but I have to wait. Darn.

Fabulous, on the edge of my seat, can't wait to find out, story. Thank-you Anna!

Sarah Brodsky said...

I'm enjoying the story. Question about its location: You mentioned it doesn't take place in Israel, the characters are Jewish, and they live in an area with no Jewish community. But when she goes to town with Aunt Anne, they buy ice cream with whipped cream. At least in the U.S., that wouldn't be kosher unless they're in a city with a lot of other Jews, definitely not a rural area. (You might be able to buy kosher ice cream in a carton to take home, but nothing to sit down and eat.)
It sounds idyllic, but at least in places where I've been, maintaining a Jewish lifestyle is nearly impossible in rural areas--unless you're in Israel.

Maria said...

Great! The story gets better with each new installment. I was starting to get worried that Aunt Anne was going to die or something, but it will be interesting to see how an only child like the narrator changes as she sees Aunt Anne go through her pregnancy.

eliza said...

Aaaaah, just what I needed after a long boring Monday...

Thank you for the lovely story Anna!

Annajean D. said...

What a nice surprise! I wouldn't have expected that one.

Kim M. said...

I find myself wishing I had the whole book so I could scrap everything and finish it! Great story!

The Author said...

I don't mean this as critizism at all, but I think it's kind of comical how she announces the baby, they rave, and then move on as if nothing happened. But this certainly is a surprise, and will be a good experience for Becky. Thank you!!!

Susan B said...

Keep up the good work Anna...enjoying the story very much!

Crystal said...

Anna--that is, without a doubt in the world, the best yet. You said it so naturally the way Becky began doodling Rachel's portrait and nonchalantly cleaned up after lunch. But you still added a touch of Beckyishness--just enough--when you said "probably to choose between different colors of pastel yarn." Perfect. I love "I was left alone with my thoughts." What's up with the terrific endings lately? I love them!