Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: The Family Home (05/29/08)
TITLE: Lost Connection
By Glynis Becker
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Eavesdropping (or ‘observing’ as I’d been wont to call it) was not a skill of which I was particularly proud, but it had served me well of late. Because of the information I had gleaned from this semi-nefarious act, I was especially determined to enjoy this party, more than usual. I knew from hushed conversations that this would be the last such occasion in this home. Father had decided we would try our luck out West and he and Mother were already making the necessary plans, though neither had bothered to tell me or my siblings.
The idea of living in a different home was unimaginable to me. I had been born in the upstairs bedroom on the south side and with the exception of a few weeks’ time in Boston with my mother’s parents, I had spent the entirety of my twelve years sleeping in this house, playing in these gardens, hiding in these chambers, skulking on these stairs.
My family (at least on Father’s side) consists of generation after generation of proud Virginians, ever since a grandfather of mine (several ‘greats’ back, though I’d forgotten now just how many) had settled in Roanoke and no one had ever left. My ancestors had made friends with the Indians and fought against the British. We’d survived storm, famine, flood and drought all on this piece of land. Our family’s fortune, such as it was, was tied to this dirt and without a moment’s hesitation, so it seemed to me, my Father had severed the connection.
And the rest of us were expected to pull up roots and go along, like it was some grand adventure. I had overheard my mother talking about how dangerous it was going to be and it frightened me. I didn’t want to leave. I wanted everything to stay like it was now. How long had I sat on these stairs waiting for my turn to sit at the table? And now I would never have the chance. Hadn’t there been stories of families torn apart by the natives, forcing the women to become slaves in their tribes? People freezing to death in the winter? Starvation? My father had been quick to point out to Mother that these things did not happen to everyone. Since she had no say in the matter, she made sure that her protest was noted, so later she could flaunt an ‘I told you so’ if things didn’t turn out.
A change in the volume level in the dining room prompted my return to observing the dinner at present. I heard a spoon striking crystal in a purposeful rhythm and scooted myself down the staircase, all the way to the bottom. I didn’t want to miss this announcement.
My father spoke to his friends and neighbors at length of the grandeur of the West and his need for adventure. He spoke of fortune and even threw in a comment about Providence, though I’m pretty sure that was just to satisfy the Reverend, whom I’d seen walk through the doors a few hours earlier.
I couldn’t see anything from the staircase, but I was sure that my mother was smiling adoringly at her handsome husband, putting on a cover of solidarity, so that no one would suspect how scared she was or how much she hated the plan. But I knew.
I knew much more than I should have from those hours of listening to other people’s conversations and I knew what this change meant for our family’s life. The connection to a land and a history was being exchanged for an unknown and I was wary of the effect it would most certainly have on my future.
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