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The Plan The Plan
by Katerina Charisi
2016-09-18 11:33:59
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Marianne watched their faces while they sat around the table for dinner, hiding her face behind her hair, pretending to stare at her plate, not touching the food. She turned a giggle to a sob, right before it escaped her mouth. Boy, they looked too funny. They said everything to comfort her, to convince her that what happened was nothing important, that she shouldn’t take it so hard on her. She really enjoyed it, being the center of their interest. Only Cornelia sat quiet on her chair, her hands on her lap, looking at her in a way she knew that she wasn’t convinced. Old witch, she murmured. She kept sobbing and sucking her nose, until Bradford sighed loud and announced what she was waiting for all this time: “I was planning a general repair, anyway”. That’s exactly what I wanted to listen.

emi0001_400Then Michael took part in the conversation, and the two brothers kept talking about all the things they would do with the car. Boys, she said to herself. Just give them a reason to play. Jacob was the first to leave the kitchen. As always, he ate his food in silence, then stood up and left without a word. The brothers finished their food and ran out to start working. The women stayed behind, Frances cleaning the table, Cornelia always silent in her corner, and Jenny with the same confused and unsure look in her eyes, staring at her. She went and sat next to her. Maybe she thought it was a good time for a truce. Maybe she thought they would eventually become friends, so cute! She told her something sweet and clever like always but Marianne replied again in despair, so she, too, left the kitchen.

Frances put the leftovers in a bowl, added a few dried slices of bread and pushed them in to soak. “I’m going to the coop, I’ll be right back”. When she heard the front door closing, Marianne sucked her nose hard, wiped her eyes and smiled. Cornelia kept looking at nothing, behind her. “I think I’ll go for a nap”, she told her. Grandma turned her eyes and for a moment their looks met. It was only for a moment, but enough to share all the things they never dared to speak. “Are you happy now?” She finally asked. Marianne smiled back widely. “Not yet”, she replied. “You know it”.

“I know what you’re trying to do”.

“Oh, really?” Marianne asked and stood up, went close to the old lady and stood before her, her large shape looking gigantic, compared to the wrinkled, crooked figure on the chair. If Cornelia was scared, she never showed, instead she nailed her wet eyes on her. “You can’t scare me”, she said with her broken voice.”Wanna bet?”

The front door creaked and slammed, and Frances got back, bringing a cold breeze with her. “My goodness, it’s cold out there”, she mumbled. “Those boys of mine won’t feel their fingers”.

Marianne left the kitchen without a word. Frances put the empty bowl in the sink and turned the faucet. “You could go get some wood for the fire!” she said, but Marianne replied with her heavy steps on the stairs. Frances took a deep breath and wiped her hands on her apron. “She is doing nothing! Like she is a little girl.” She grabbed a few apples from the basket and put them in a plate. She sat and started peeling one, shaking her head.

“You can keep only one rooster in the coop”, Cornelia said. “Now you are three of them.” Frances hit the peeled apple on the table so hard, that it broke. “They will find a way to co-exist! This is their house!”

“This is your house”, Cornelia insisted. “The children need a life of their own. You don’t let them breathe.”

Frances left with her mouth open. “I what? What did I do? What did I ever do?” She threw the knife in the sink, from where she was sitting. It clanked as it hit at the edge of the sink, then jumped and fell on the floor. “All these years I do nothing but what I have to do. I wake up first, I sleep last. I took care of you, of my husband, I fed you all out of nothing, I did nothing more or less than what I had to do. And you tell me I won’t let my children breathe? How do you dare? I only expect for them to be responsible and do their share in the chores! How am I supposed to take care of everything? How long am I supposed to stand on them feet and run all over the place to make sure everything is fine?”

Cornelia nodded. “It could be different, if you let it be. We could have sold the place while we still could, repair Jacob’s paternal house in Jacksonville and move to the town. Your children could have a life, their life, their homes, next to you. We would all be better. Now you just try to make them live the life you have in your mind.” She stopped and her bony hand reached Frances’. “You tried it before”. Frances looked elsewhere. “It never worked out. That sin will stay with this family and this house forever.”

“That sin, was what I had to do to save this family and this house!”

Cornelia pushed with her arms on the table to help stand up. She dragged her feet to the kitchen door. “That sin, keeps coming back. The girl saw her already.”


   
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