Some Things Never Change

December 17, 1896
Anna Cushing

Mom and Dad were waiting on the platform for me. I saw them as soon as I reached the steps to descend from the train, but Dad waved at me anyway. I approached them with my sack in tow, feeling lower class without the usual porter carrying my cases.

Mom nodded curtly as though she was indifferent to my return home. Dad, was not so callous. He wrapped his arms around me, lifted me a foot off the ground and spun me around in a circle while kissing my cheeks. I guess he missed me.

“How was your trip?” Dad asked.

The station was still spinning even though my feet were stationary, back on the ground.

“Dreadful.” I replied. “First class is not what it used to be.”

“Should I have a word with the conductor?” Dad asked.

“My toast was burnt, my hot tea was cold and can you believe they demanded money for a pillow? I feel like I’ve been robbed.” I said.

“How dreadful.” Mom said.

Her tone suggested anything but dread. I suspect she was laughing at me on the inside.

“Wait here, I will be back shortly.” Dad said.

He went off to find the conductor. I pity the man, knowing Dad’s wrath, it is likely someone will be going home without a job. On the other hand it is extortion to withhold pillows from first class passengers. If I had wanted to sleep on wood, I would have traveled in third class with the barmaids and peasants.

“You could have kept some of that to yourself.” Mom said.

She had a disapproving glint in her eye.

“What for?” I asked.

“It is Christmastime.”

“And because of that I should lower my standards?”

“No. You should have a heart.”

“I resent the implication that I do not.”

“I know you have one, dear. There are times, though, when it is blacker than coal.”

“I wonder where I get that from?” I asked.

Mom fell silent. I had not meant to argue with her on this trip home. In her letter, she sound as if she genuinely missed me and it had made me miss her as well. It left me with hope that maybe things could be different between us. I should have known better.

The ride home was quiet. Dad was smiling and clearly content to have me home again. Mom was frowning and I think she, like I, was wondering if there will ever come a time when we can spend five minutes together without falling into arguments. For my part, I doubt it, not because I want it to be this way, but because it always has been this way.

Going away to Primrose College did not change anything or at least not anything which really matters. Maybe in the years to come it will, but for now it is merely refuge from becoming too much like my Mom. I could do worse than marrying a man like Dad, but it is the only part of her life I think of as good. The look in her eyes makes me wonder if she might think so as well.

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