Sunday, May 18, 2008

Favorite Chapters

Chapter 7 from The Aimee Doll

It is a gloomy afternoon for the children of the orphanage to be burying their mother. The sky doesn’t make up its mind on whether it’s going to rain or not, sending some drops of rain now and then. The wind blows for a few minutes, making the air cold, then it stops, silencing everything into dead calmness and allowing humidity to set in. Sister Mary Helen rests her hand on Aimee’s shoulder but Aimee removes her coat, not caring about getting out of the way the tender hand on her shoulder. Aimee takes a step away from everyone. No one notices, except the little girl with tangled black hair who stares at her with hatred. She wonders if little Bianca can read her thoughts. She seems to know exactly what is going on through her mind.
"I want this to be over. I want to get out of here."
Everyone turns at the sound of an approaching carriage, except for Aimee. Everyone seems surprised at seeing the new guest, including Sister Mary Helen, but Aimee is not interested in looking. Her eyes focus on the wooden casket with the wild flowers the children had thrown on top.
"If I still worked at the hospital, I would have bought her a more decent casket. She would have sweet smelling roses on her coffin."
Aimee is so immersed in her own thoughts she barely feels the hand that reaches out to hold hers, until she hears a soft sounding voice whisper close to her ear,
“You are right, there is no way to repay the debt.”
This time Aimee turns and looks into Nely’s tearful eyes.
"But I thought I burnt the letter," she thinks to herself but doesn't speak. She begins to squeeze Nely’s hand, but instead she lets go of it and once again steps away.
Someone talks behind her and she turns around at the familiar voice. Alex. Aimee smiles at him, but when he reaches to embrace her she turns away from his open arms.
Justin stands next to Nely. He offers his condolences, but she doesn’t reply. She turns her back to the group and looks toward the ground again as the first shovel of soil is thrown onto the coffin. It’s over. Now I can go... Where? Home?
She walks.
Sister Mary Helen greets the newcomers. “She hasn’t been herself. She’s very sad, but trying to be strong for everybody else.” Sister Mary Helen gathers the children and they follow Aimee back to the house.

They sit in the dinning room, the only place in the house large enough to hold visitors. The children are in bed. They were sent to their rooms after a light supper. No reading this night, for they were very tired after the day’s events.
Aimee looks at the visitors and once again wonders how they found out about Miss Judy’s death. "I burnt the letter, didn’t I?"
Sister Mary Helen returns from the children’s dormitories and sits close to Nely. “Nely, it’s so nice to see you again. Tell me, what is it like to be back here after so many years?”
“It certainly is nice to be back, but I can not get over how small this place seems,” Nely says looking around. “I used to think this was a large house when I was a little girl growing up here.”
"You have grown used to a bigger house," Aimee wants to reply but doesn’t, mostly because she also was surprised to see how small the place seemed the first time she came back. The exception is, unlike Nely, she kept coming back and the smallness of the house doesn’t surprise her anymore.
“Aimee,” Alex says, “we want to know if we can help.”
“Yes, Aimee,” says Justin this time. “We had no idea of what was going on, or we would have come earlier.”
“Justin says I can come during the day, while him and Alexander go to work at the bank. I can help out with the children and the chores. It will be nice to spend time here again, Aimee.”
"You wouldn’t know how to do chores," Aimee wants to say. "Your lady hands would never be able to stand washing dishes or doing the laundry with ice-cold water."
“Aimee, isn’t it nice of them to offer their help?” Sister Mary Helen asks.
"Extremely." Aimee stands up and goes to the mirror on the wall, the only unbroken mirror in the house, and only because the children are not tall enough to reach it. She stands in front of the mirror but doesn’t see her reflection. She stares at her eyes and remembers Mrs. Braxton looking into them.
“Every time I look at you Aimee, I am reminded of my regrets,” Mrs. Braxton had said.
Aimee looks defiantly at her own eyes. Well, I won’t have any regrets.
Then she remembers Miss Judy’s words, “We all have to go on a journey in our lives.”
A journey, Aimee thinks.
She turns and looks at the crowd, who are waiting for her answer. “No, I don’t need help. I’m going on a... I am going away for a little while.”
“But Aimee,” Sister Mary Helen interrupts.
“Only for a week, Sister. I need to find something here first, then I’ll be gone for a week, and at the end of that week I’ll come back... here.”

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