Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Postcards (08/29/05)
- TITLE: Genoa
By Lauren Bombardier
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You'd think with a sensible name like Mary Jane Jones, my sister would follow suit. Ha! There is not a sensible bone in her body. I can't tell you how many times, after one of Mary Jane's escapades, Mama said, "Mary Jane, why can't you use the sense God gave you? Do you think Genoa would ever do something like that?" And she'd point her finger at me as I sat in the corner of our settee reading a book.
That's my name – Genoa Jones. I was named by my father after the city where the greatest explorer who ever lived had been born. No, plain, sensible Genoa with her nose stuck in a book would never be caught dead chasing a cow from the Nelson dairy down Main Street, whooping and hollering. No, I would never do that.
We graduated from high school the same year, though Mary Jane was two years older. She was held back because she never seemed to find the time to do her schoolwork. I always had mine done before suppertime so I could help Mama and Aunt Helen in the kitchen. Mama complained about Mary Jane to Aunt Helen, who said, "Give her time. She'll grow out of it." They always forgot I was there, hearing every word. When they'd remember me, they never clammed up like grown-ups do around children. They knew they didn't have to worry about me.
After high school, I went to college to become a secretary. Mary Jane went to Hollywood to become an actress. "I'll write!" she promised as she hung out the window of the bus, blowing us kisses.
Her first letter was newsy, full of hope and a young girl's dreams. It was also her last letter. She got so busy she could only pen a few lines on a postcard. "Having a grand time! Tell Aunt Helen I met Sean Connery!" And I would. Each postcard was from a new place and I put them in my scrapbook.
I would go to see her movies. Aunt Helen would come too when she could. Mama never came. She didn't approve of the movies.
Mary Jane came home once, to pick up the rest of her stuff, she said. Aunt Helen and I helped her pack and we carried everything to the taxi. Mama didn't say a word to any of us, especially not to Mary Jane. Even when Mary Jane stood at the door begging Mama to say something, Mama was firm. She even turned her back. My sister stood there, as if rooted, shock written on her face. For Mama to be stubborn was one thing, but to turn her back – ! Tears slid down my sister's face as she ran to the taxi. She never came back.
Afterwards, Mama was in the kitchen and I saw her swipe at her cheek. She turned to me when I asked if I could help and refused to acknowledge she was crying even as the tears spilled from her eyes. We didn't speak of it again.
It's been ten years. My sister still sends me postcards and I still put them in my scrapbook. One spring day six years ago, Aunt Helen came into the kitchen and announced that she was getting married and moving to California. She'd had it with small town life and wanted to see the big city. I think she missed my sister too much. I'm still a secretary, though there are times I wish I could follow Aunt Helen to California.
Mama's still here. She's not as strong as she used to be. She lost something the day Mary Jane left. She prefers to sit in a rocking chair while I cook our supper. She quilts to pass the time. Just last evening, as I was putting her to bed, she asked me why I didn't marry and have a family of my own. I asked her who would take care of her if I was gone? She patted my arm, "That's my Genoa. Always the sensible one." Then she closed her eyes and fell asleep, leaving me to sit beside her and wonder if I really had been the sensible one.
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