September 5, 1896
Anna Cushing

“You don’t seriously want to go away to that drab school do you?” Mom asked.

“It’s not drab. Brown University is one of the best traditional colleges in the country if not the world.”

“But you won’t be going to Brown, dear.”

“Primrose is part of it, whether anyone admits it or not.”

“I still don’t understand what you think you will gain there.”

“I know you don’t. You can’t.”

“Don’t go acting all superior, young lady. You aren’t too big to go over my knee and don’t you forget it.”

“I’m not being superior, mom. It’s just you can’t understand what this means to me because it will never have that meaning to you. Maybe someday I’ll know how to explain it better but I don’t think it matters.”

“Your grandmother was like that too. Always so much better than the rest of us. We could never do right by her and we could never understand things as she did. She was so misunderstood that no one even visits her grave. Is that what you want for yourself?”

“No, mom. I want to matter. I want to be something more than a wife and a mother.”

“So, now I don’t matter? Have I been such a huge disappointment to you?”

“No. Please, mom can we just agree that we don’t agree?”

“If this is what you really want, Anna. I don’t pretend to understand it, but if it makes you happy then I can accept it.”

“Thank you.”

She shook her head at me. There was a soft smile on her face but her cheeks were damp with tears. She was afraid of losing me, but I do not know why. We have never been close like mother and daughter should be. There have always been subtle disagreements, disapprovals in everything I have done from the day I was born to the first day I attended school to the day I left for Primrose College.

Maybe it is guilt that causes me to dream of that conversation almost nightly. Maybe it is because for the first time in my life I believed my mom actually cared about me. It is done with now though, so why does it matter to me?

Primrose College is everything I expected and nothing like what I expected. Contradictory as that may sound it remains true. I had known I would share a room with other girls. I had known there would be rules and discipline and schedules. These things I expected and accepted without remorse. I had however, expected the room to be at least as large as my bedroom at home. The fact that I am sharing a room with three other girls which is scarcely larger than my closet is an annoyance.

Then there is the matter of chores. At home we have servants to do the menial work and with the amount of money my dad sent the Carrington’s I would expect them to hire a few servants as well. Instead they opt for indentured servitude of the girls in their care. I had perfect nails when I arrived and now only one is not shattered to the quick. It is intolerable.

Even more so, when one of my roommates is nothing more than a servant herself. It is humiliating to be seen in her company. She wears rags and smells of dirt and sweat. If her hair has ever met a comb it is probably still lost in the tangled mess of it. And if all that was not enough, she knows not her place. In time that will change though, I will see to it.

Of course such things take careful planning and time. Mom always said you can catch more flies with honey and in this case she is doubly right. Helping the girl out will gain her trust and make living with her more tolerable in the meantime. By the time I am finished she will thank me for allowing her to do my chores and anything else I want.

1 comment:

Paul said...

Ashley, this one's a bitch, she might find Sarah a little more than she can handle.
Warm hugs,