When Jenny came home that day the family was all a twitter about something. Mom, who was usually in an old house dress, was wearing her Sunday best. It was a black rayon dress with big pink flowers splashed all over it. It was one of Jenny’s favorites. It was one of the two dresses that Mom had for special occasions like going to church or to weddings. Her Mother was a good looking woman and she had just started dating recently.
“Jenny, go upstairs and make the beds, we are having company.” Her Mother’s voice was shrill.
“What’s all the commotion about Mom,” she asked?
“It’s a surprise, will you please do what I asked?”
“Okay, okay, but I don’t know what the big deal is? We have had company before and the beds did not have to be made. And what’s with the mystery? Is the Pope coming or what?”
With that Jenny ran upstairs before her Mother would get mad and give her a slap. Her two younger sisters were in the bathroom giggling. She hoped maybe they could shed a little light on what was going on. But when she asked them, they just ignored her and kept giggling. ‘What can you expect from kids,’ she thought? Jenny was all of fourteen and as second oldest in the family was very much in control of things. She was blonde and blue eyed and rather scrawny looking yet the boys were beginning to notice her. Her Mother encouraged her in her independence because she needed Jenny to help at home while she was working. Since Dad left, she needed every penny she could get to raise her four girls. He never willingly sent any money home from his allotment while in the Army. But the Army took money out of his allotment and sent it to us in spite of him. He was a real winner!
Jenny finished making the beds and as she entered her own room, the smells of Summer drifted in through the open window. The watering of lawns and the wet grass smell, coupled with the aroma of the lilac bushes outside made Jenny feel lazy and she flopped on the bed and soon was snoozing. Only a few moments later, the noise of the front door slamming jolted her awake.
She still daydreamed not wanting to leave the bed, which was happening more and more lately. It was a way to close out the real world. Her Dad had deserted them when she was seven and Mom said that fate had caught up with him when he was drafted into the Army. It was 1943 and they were taking anybody and everybody. As long as you were a warm body and male of course. He never expected that to happen and he finally had to get off his duff and do something. At least that’s what Mom said.
Whenever Mom spoke of him, her voice was bitter so Jenny learned to despise his memory even though she didn’t remember all that much about him. Mom filled in the blanks of her memory with all the rotten things he had done. As if just refusing to send money home to his family wasn’t enough.
Jenny often wondered if her father would come back and how she would feel if he ever did. She knew however, with her Mom’s attitude there was slim chance of that happening. As she stubbed out the cigarette she had stolen from Mom’s purse, a train whistle blew in the distance and she wondered what it would be like to be on that train going to New York and maybe studying to be an artist or a dancer.
She was drawn out of her daydream by her Mother’s voice, “Are you finished yet, if so I want you to come down here.”
“I am all done and I will be right down.” She wondered what all the fuss was about.
To be continued.