Monday, August 3, 2009

Conversation with Aunt Anne - part 1

To know what happened earlier, click here.

Uncle Ben is down with a nasty stomach virus – and today was supposed to be shopping day, because the refrigerator is nearly empty. So Aunt Anne decided to take the car and go to town, leaving Uncle Ben to Catherine's care. I was surprised when Aunt Anne told me to take the day off schoolwork and come along with her.

Aunt Anne and I visited many different shops and bought plenty of food and other home and school supplies. After we loaded all our shopping into the car, Aunt Anne stopped by a small café and ordered two large ice-creams with whipped cream for both of us.

I was sitting and looking out of the window, enjoying myself. This was the first time I've been to a… a
populated place since I came to live with Aunt Anne. Of course, eating ice-cream with Aunt Anne is not the same as tearing down the mall with Jane and Ashley, or going to the movies with Ted. But still, it's a place full of people and cars, of delightful noise. How I missed that!

Unexpectedly, Aunt Anne leaned forward and looked at me intently.

- Listen, Becky, - she said, sounding as though she's whispering a secret. – I want you to know that I understand perfectly well what you are going through.

I choked on my whipped cream, but remained silent.

- You know I didn't grow up here, right? – Aunt Anne continued, - I moved here when I got married.

I knew that.

- While I was growing up, my life was a lot like yours. Both my parents spent most of their waking hours at work. We lived in a small apartment close to the center of the city. After school, my time was mostly at my own disposal, and I wasted it, just like I wasted my parents' money – shopping with my girlfriends and just "hanging out." Still, I was a smart girl and did pretty well at school. When I was eighteen, I started studying for a degree in literature. I cannot say I was particularly interested by the lectures, but I loved the campus. I had a new, fun life! And then, quite randomly, I met Ben.

There was something about him that attracted me – something quiet, strong and real, that I didn't see in any of the young men I met before. He was stable, more mature, and this was more than just the fact he was a few years older. He was a man of action. Only a month passed since we first met when he asked me to marry him. I was confused. We barely knew each other, and I knew that my life with him would be nothing like I planned. Ben's idea of a life in a quiet, rural place clashed with the glamour I imagined and planned for my own future. I was only eighteen years old, I barely started my degree, all my friends told me how much I will miss out on if I get married so young. My parents begged me not to rush. But I didn't have much time for consideration. Ben was finishing his degree and was about to move away. I had to choose: go with him as his wife, or never see him again.

And imagine this, Becky, Ben won! I quit college and married him. We had a modest wedding, because we were in such a hurry. By the way, my wedding dress was sewn by your grandmother. She did a wonderful job, even though she had to work at top speed – I will show you the dress later. By looking at my friends' faces at my wedding, you'd think they were attending a funeral, crying over my ruined life. We didn't have any money to spare for a real honeymoon, but I supposed that our trip here, to the house in the country we bought, would be a honeymoon of sorts.

I couldn't be more wrong.

Our home, where we moved in nearly twenty years ago, badly needed repair, hardly had any furniture, the yard was neglected, the pathways barely seen through the overgrown weeds. There were no fruit trees, no vegetable patch. Everywhere I looked, chaos reigned. We hardly had any neighbors, not to mention any Jewish community – something I always took for granted, despite not being very religious as I was growing up. In the mornings, Ben would get into his car and go to work; keen to establish his reputation in his first job, he worked long hours and got a very small salary in return. I spent my entire days in an empty house, alone…

What happened next? How did Aunt Anne adjust to her new life - and came to love it? Stay tuned for the next part!


elena rulli said...

Oh, gosh, you left us with a cliffhanger!
How could Aunt manage to survive?! Please, Anna, do not let us hang too long for the rest of Aunt's story!

Rachel said...

OOOooooooo! I'm looking forward to the next part already!

Please, keep it coming!! (I know you are busy, but oh, it is good!)

Thank you!

The Author said...

Very interesting. Just so you know, in the first paragraph you have "Aunt Ben". ;) I really look forward to reading the next part!

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad to see the story continuing - and even more glad that you've decided on including Judaism in the story. I know you were struggling with that decision earlier on, but I was really hoping you'd decide to include it, and now you did! :)

Anonymous said...

Wow! A cliffhanger! I really like it, Anna. Keep up the good work. -Leah

eliza said...

mooooooooooooooooooooooore! I feel an addiction coming on.

But indeed, as one reader said, a bit more internal conflict in people like Catherine would make it slightly more realistic.

You write very well!

Sharon said...

I love it!!!

Sharon said...

I love it!!!

Susan B said...

Hi Anna,
I just wanted to tell you how much I am enjoying your story!

Mrs. Parunak said...

This is such a lovely story. I'm enjoying every installment. I think you made a wise choice to make the family Jewish. It will be much more nuanced that way.

Persuaded said...

Ooooh, it's getting really interesting!! Can't wait for the next installment☺

Anonymous said...

two things:

a) I think this is the most well-written of your segments so far. It doesn't feel fake or strained at all, and the feelings conveyed in the words fit the characters perfectly.

b) What you have been portraying so far sounds very American Christian to me. The farm, the homeschooling, the long hand-sewn modest clothing, etc. Is this complete picture something that is actually found in Jewish communities or are you hoping to start a movement of sorts with this work? I have never seen a rural Jewish community that does these things and was curious.
Do keep up the story, it is fun to read!

Rachel said...

"We didn't have any money to spare for a real honeymoon, but I suppose that our trip here, to the house in the country we bought, will be a honeymoon of sorts."

This paragraph switches from past to present tense.

I love reading these stories, they are really encouraging.

Anonymous said...

This was surely my favorite part of the story so far! I have really enjoyed it! You are quite a good writer. Keep it coming!

Crystal said...

Aaaaah! This is fantastic! It is definitely--DEFINITELY the best piece yet. I had thought vaguely about Aunt Anne's background, wondering if you would include it . . . and now this perfect twist! I love it! I love it! I LOOOOVE it!!! Aunt Anne sounds perfectly natural, and I really feel like this is going to be a huge step in Becky's maturity!

WRITE MORE!!!!!!!!!!!!