Launch! Prince Arthur Hotel! Sept.5. Cake, beverages. Launch 7:15 pm. (NOWW AGM 6:30.)

Launch! Prince Arthur Hotel! Sept.5. Cake, beverages. Launch 7:15 pm. (NOWW AGM 6:30.)
Prize Winning Stories from NOWW

Thursday, March 18, 2010

More of I've Always Loved You by Ann Seymour

In this segment, Ann Seymour describes her life as a child in California during the war. Her father is overseas.

At home, Mom seemed gloomier than ever. As time went by, she missed Daddy more, not less. He was the powerful connection, and being without him again took its toll. Confusion burrowed in and marked a mood whose changing face kept her off balance.

She wrote in her diary: “I think of my childhood as if trying to recall a book I read or a movie I saw. But Frank – I remember him with such intensity it sometimes makes me nauseous. Lately I fight a need to be alone. The thought of seeing anyone besides my family feels like staring into an overhead light. I try to keep my hope, since without it, I’d be on the next train to
oblivion. I know that.”

She shut her diary, interrogated me, and then Aunt Lenore arrived in a beige sweater set and skirt, plus pearls. After Mom poured some coffee for her, she began whining (like she told me not to do). "Pooksie just came home from playing jacks with the Grim Preacher’s staggeringly spoiled Belinda, whom she now calls her best friend.”

Aunt Lenore stirred some cream into her coffee. “Is Belinda as bad as the mother?”

“Need you ask? She looks like Shirley Temple – all dimples – but bursts into floods of screaming tears if I ever say no to her. Pooksie gives me these ‘see what a nice child I am by comparison?’ stares and tenderly takes Belinda’s hand.”

It made me mad when Mom talked about me, especially right in front of me. Aunt Lenore laughed. “Little Miss Good Ship Lollipop. Pooksie will get tired of her, in my opinion.”

No, I wouldn’t. She had a pet parrot who could say, “Hi, there, Mama Kingfisher,” and, in her back yard, a pond as green as Lake Merrit. More than that, we had fun playing together. Mom needed to learn to have fun. It would be good for her.

A week later, Mom peeled a green apple in one continuous spiral while Jeep curled up in a circle and dozed for a few seconds, moved a few feet away and dozed a while longer, then repeated the procedure. They waited for me to come home from school. I was late, and Mom began to feel ill from stress, as she often displaced her anxiety about Daddy onto Frankie and me. Finally, I injudiciously came in clutching a kitten, gray with white paws.

Mom raised her paring knife. “What have you done?”

“Belinda’s mother gave it to me. Isn’t she nice?”

Mom eyed the kitten with loathing. “Belinda’s mother can take it right back. It has a sneaky expression on its face and will kill the birds in my garden if it has the chance. Cats are dreadful and the natural enemies of babies.”

I said crushingly, “My brother’s not a baby anymore.”

“The cat’s glaring at him. Besides, it will run away. They all do. Temporary shelter and food: that’s all they want.”

“It's just a kitten. And it likes me.”

“You don’t know what you’re talking about. It will soon grow into a cat, and the cat will gain the upper hand with you. It would be underfoot all day, pouncing on all of us, shredding the furniture. And adult cats have bad breath, you know.”

“I thought you said it would run away." Then, to negotiate, I added, "It can play outdoors with the two cats next door."

“It’s a kitten; they would kill it in no time. Besides, Jeep would resent the intruder.”

Jeep wagged his tail and began licking the kitten’s fur. I smiled at Mom.

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