Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Profiles in String 2

More NaNoWriMo. The title doesn't mean anything, yet -- I asked Darwin what I should call my novel, and he suggested a name of a novel from a book he'd been reading, a novel which was destroyed in draft form before it could be published.


My own room was no more refuge for me. I sat on the bed twisting my hands nervously, surveying the fine sprinkling of laundry all over the floor and the empty suitcase perched at the foot of my bed.
“I hope Aunt Emma doesn’t need much organizing,” I told it glumly. “I don’t seem to have many qualifications in that department.”
But in what was I qualified? I surveyed the walls of my room. Photos were tacked up here and there, pixelated reminders of field trips or cast parties or team retreats, but there were no awards, no accolades, nothing to certify that Emma Frances Trapnel had excelled in anything. The bulky envelope I was sitting on certainly held my official college diploma. I didn’t even have the integrity to be in debt for my education; my parents had covered that, as they had covered any expense I might have incurred in my life. I am the opposite of a kept woman. I am a kept child.
And now, I was going to keep Aunt Emma because it was convenient to all concerned, to the useful ones in the family who had careers and incomes and responsibilities. Surely it was a matter of no great import to me to stay with Aunt Emma until the inevitable journey to the nursing home had to be made. Even I could see, through my immediate irritation, that the idea made sense.
“That’s my reasonable girl,” my father had crooned, kissing my forehead.
Father’s reasonable girl reached out to hurl the nearest item in the suitcase, and then reflexively grabbed after the fluttering gilt-edged pages and leather spine. The effort sent me sprawling across the bed as I tripped over the combined height of a backpack, two pairs of shoes, and my bedspread, but as I pulled my bruised elbow out of the suitcase, I was grimly triumphant. There in my hand was my old and treasured copy of Jane Eyre, glowing as the lamp light reflected off the worn and burnished edges of the pages. Here was my first great commission for Great-Aunt Emma: the care and reading of her own volume of Jane Eyre, a present on my fourteenth birthday. How I had pored over that book, huddled under the blanket, devouring the story with weary eagerness, the surfeit of reading for hours in a row kept at bay by the pure thrill of the plot! Sudden angry tears welled up and threatened to spill over onto the cover of the book. In real life there was no mad wife lurking in the cold attic of the manor house, only a mad aunt descending into mundane and brutal grip of disease and old age. She didn’t deserve to be locked away to slip into darkness alone, even if the tall and carefree woman who gave a teenager a too-valuable book had already disappeared.
“I kept the faith, Aunt Emma,” I whispered, carefully moving the book out of range of teardrops. “At least I’ve managed to keep your book safe and clean. I hope I can do the same for you.”

1 comment:

cliff said...

Lovin' it. Miss Emma may realize someday that caring for her aunt can be a kind of "payback" to her family. It's good to have family.