The Enemy Within

July, 28, 1896
Sarah Waters

The news of Deb’s pregnancy had clearly lifted what I can only describe as a mood of depression from mother. I am happy about that. She deserves to be happy and I hope somehow the birth of a grandchild will help fill the emptiness my father’s passing has left within her. For myself, I do not know what will fill that emptiness, but a little nephew or niece will not hurt.

Mother and I have become rather good at avoiding each other. Sam and Deb have pretended not to notice. I suppose it is out of politeness, but sometimes I feel it is because they all would rather I was not here at all. It is not like mother and I having completely opposite opinions is anything new. In fact, it has been many years since our relationship was an easy one. Father was always good at keeping the peace between, but now he is not here to do so.

Avoidance has seemed the best policy, for what we will never see the events surrounding his death in the same light. Father often, told me it was my responsibility as a daughter to try to place myself in the shoes of my mother and see things as they are for her. I have done so in the past, but this time, I feel it is she who needs to widen her perspective and not I. It not that I do not understand her views, it is that I cannot accept them.

It was therefore by accident I discovered her meeting with Mr. Parker. I was to be out running errands for Sam and Deb. Unfortunately, I was too efficient at it and home nearly an hour before I was expected.

My blood boiled when I entered the door and heard his voice. I stalked into the living room and discovered them sitting there. They were closer than strictly appropriate and as my eyes focused in on them I realized they were holding hands as well. Barely controlled raged started at my toes and worked its way through my until the tops of my ears were burning. It was all I could do to stand my ground and not attack the man.

Mr. Parker dropped my mother’s hand and jumped to his feet as he became aware of my presence. He cleared his throat uncomfortably in the silence that fell on the room. He must have felt guilty under my cold stare.

“I believe you know my daughter, Sarah.” Mother stood and motioned toward me with a forced smile.

“Yes, of course. It has been some time. How are you?” He said.

Briefly, I considered leaving the room and forgetting what I had seen. It might have been better for all of us if I had, but my demons held my feet fast.

“My father is dead. How do you think I am?” I replied.

Mr. Parker nodded his head.

“You have my condolences. Your father was a good man and he will be missed.”

“I want nothing from you, least of all your false sympathy. You are right though, my father will be missed, you will not be.” I replied.

“Sarah! Mind your manners.” Mother said.

“Not with this man. Never, with him.” I replied to her.

“Get out.” I said to him and pointed toward the door.

I felt like I was trembling with rage but my arm was steady as a rock. Mr. Parker looked uncomfortably between me and my mother. Clearly, he was trying to ascertain which of us he should cater toward.

“If you think, I wanted any of this to happen, you are mistaken. This was a simple labor dispute and I would have negotiated with your father, as I always had in the past, and we would have come to an agreement. The times are not what they were though, and all manners of resolution were stripped from me by the Government. It was their doing that caused this, not mine.”

“If those lies help you sleep at night it matters not to me.” I replied.

“Sarah, please be--” He started to say.

“Do not address me so informally, Mr. Parker. You have not the right.”

“Miss Waters, I can see we will not part as friends and I am sorry whether you believe me or not. I have business with your mother, if you will excuse us.”

“Your business with my mother is over. Get out.” I said, again pointing at the door.

It was at that moment, Deborah entered the room. She had no doubt heard my raised voice. She entered from behind me and grabbed a firm hold of my arm.

“Come on Sarah.” Deborah said, pulling at my arm.

“Not until he leaves.” I said.

Deborah pulled again, harder.

“Let go of me Deborah.” I said turning for an instant to glare at her.

“Sarah, this is not any of your business.” Deborah said.

She pulled again. I turned toward her again twisted my arm until she was forced to let go. I turned back to Mr. Parker, but Deborah was not giving up. She started to grab me again and I turned and slapped her hands away. She came at me again and I pushed her back. She lost her balance and fell to the floor on her back.

Mother ran toward Deborah in concern. I should have tried to help her, but I was too angry to think straight. I glared at Mr. Parker.

Mother got Deborah back to her feet and helped her to sit down.

“Mr. Parker, as you can see now is obviously not going to be a good time. Can we reschedule?” Mother said.

“Of course. I will be in town for a few more days. I am at your convenience during that time.” He said.

I said nothing but followed him to the door and locked it behind him as he left. Only then did I return to the living room with concern for Deborah.

“Are you all right?” I asked her.

She nodded.

“This was none of your business.” She said.

“It was none of yours but it was definitely mine.” I replied.

“Your behavior is inexcusable.” Mother said to me.

“As was yours.” I replied.

Our eyes met in a stare and for the first time mother must have realized when it comes to a battle of wills she will never win with me. She looked away and tended to Deborah as though I did not exist. I am sure she wished that was case. Certain that, Deborah was only stunned I retired to the privacy of my room and paced the floor in a futile attempt to calm myself.

1 comment:

Paul said...

Melanie, in this I agree with Sarah.
Warm hugs,