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Me against them
by Katerina Charisi
2016-09-04 11:24:16
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When we came back that day from Old Manon’s, I was a little cheered up. Michael and I chatted in the car while driving back to the manor, he promised that when spring comes Bradford and Marianne would be gone, and then he would turn their small room into a nursery. That’s where he would start the renovation from, first. I panicked as I pictured myself having a baby in that house, and I didn’t know why. Michael probably noticed my look, for he tried to assure me that everything would be fine.

“It’s the next step for two people who love each other, Jenny.”

“I know, but the two people first live their life for a while, before taking such a big step, don’t you think?”

mil01_400_05He looked at me sideways and turned to the dirt road for the house. “Aren’t we living our life? And what are we doing all this time?” he asked.  How could I explain? How could he understand? Even I didn’t understand. I only felt that everything was wrong, nothing was as it supposed to be. Michael turned to the right and got in the narrow road, driving in the mud to the swamp. He stopped the car a little further. “We shouldn’t go any closer with the car, but we can walk”. I shook my head.

“Ok, what’s wrong? Did something happen in the house? Is it Marianne again?”

I got out and my feet sank in the mud. I sat on the hood. He lit a smoke and sat next to me. “What’s wrong?” he asked softly. “Why did you say that earlier? Aren’t we living our life together, as we always wanted? Aren’t you happy that we don’t meet in a rush between your shifts? That I don’t wait for you to take off that apron and come out, always late and tired? Aren’t we having a peaceful life? Aren’t you happy for not having to waste your days making coffees and french toasts? Tell me, Jenny! Did you regret?”

I felt so bad for him. Still, I couldn’t think of a proper way to explain things without being misunderstood. I used to work hard and wouldn’t feel my feet when stepped out of the cafe. It wasn’t the career of a lifetime and most of the times I hated my job. I had so many times cried  out of anger for being so tired, for not having time to live, for spending holidays in that place instead of a warm house with people I love. What Michael said, was all true. He never pushed me to make any choices. I agreed more than happilly, to let everything behind and start a new life in his place. The prospect of living in the countryside as a part of a happy family, having a peaceful life in nature with the one I love was too good to turn it down. It was just that somehow our life got stuck in a point that there’s wasn’t getting anywhere.

“Michael”, I said eventually. “I’m sorry for making you feeling this way. I never regretted for a second for choosing to be with you. It’s just that all this is getting anywhere. You asked me if we are living our life. Well, we are not! We just wait. That’s how I see it and feel it. We are stuck in the middle of things to happen, things to have to happen first, before we do our step, and the problem is that all the things that should happen, they don’t. And time goes by, just like that. Day in, day out, without doing anything.”

He lowered his head and stared at his hands. I felt awful. But since he started this conversation, there was no point to hide anymore. “You see, when we first came in the manor, Bradford and Marianne were supposed to leave in a few weeks. You told me their house was almost ready. I am not saying that I have a problem with them, it’s their house as it is ours, but...” I sighed. “You said that your parents have their own rhythm of living, in their part of the house and we would just live our life the way we want, but we just became part of their life and follow their everyday routine ever since. I don’t know how to explain it to you without sounding harsh, I’m sorry. Parents are parents and their children are always kids for them. This, never changes. Especially when the children live with their parents. Age doesn’t make any difference, your parents will always treat us as kids.”

He threw his arms surrendered. I knew that moment that I said things the wrong way, for he took a defensive look. “They all try, Jenny. As you try to adapt with them and the new life, they try to do the same with you, too. They always wonder how you feel, they save their words for not making you feel bad, they even try to speak normal and without their accent, for you, so you don’t think they want to talk without you understanding what they say. They see you as a part of this family. We all do. I think you’ve been unfair. We all try our best”.

That was the problem. The “we” against me. Michael was still separating himself and his family from me. It was me and it was them. When we talked about “we” and “you”, how could we ever make things work out?

I had many things to say, but I didn’t want to go on with this conversation, as it obviously would turn to a fight. Thankfully, I didn’t even had to reply to his last comments. The sound of a car on its way to the house interrupted our thoughts. “It’s Marianne”, Michael said. I laughed. I knew it was Bradford’s car- after all this time I could recognize the cars of the house, but guessing who’s driving it? No way. “How can you tell?”

“I can hear it. She is burning it. Come, we should go. It’s rather cold down here. I still don’t understand why you love this place so much. It’s just ...swamp. Mist, mud, slippery rocks and rotten logs, still dirty water and creepy sounds. I hate it. I always did. It’s Cornelia’s fault. She made me hate it with her stories.”

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