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Saturday, 7 September 2013

When the Summer Ends Chapter 1

Chapter 1


July 1958

Despite feeling so, so disorientated about our sudden departure for the states, I suppose you could say I’m somewhat pleased. Now that I no longer live in Europe with my oddly cold-blooded mother, I have much more freedom than I would have ever had back in France. My mother is French, and my father American, you see. The way they met was rather unusual, but I can tell you now it was arranged. They were never really in love… How disgusting! You may find that weird; but their marriage was fixed and carefully manipulated by the press. Call me a conspiracy-freak, but don’t you find all celebrity romances to be a fix, completely, utterly made and broken by gossipy columnists and women’s weekly magazines? I know for a fact that my daddy, Mr Donald Rowland, and my mother (I refuse to call her anything but a nice and formal “mother”) Miss Celeste Fleuri, married based on what they thought the press would admire most of all. They had met not long after World War II when my father was a soldier liberating France from Germany’s control. When the French were freed, daddy became infatuated with my mother, whom he met whilst bar hopping in Paris. As he was already famous, my mother knew him and was a fan of his music - he was, in return, amazed by her looks and wealth. They might have fancied each other a little at first, but there was no way they’d get together without a little encouragement from those paparazzi creeps.
My father is quite the talented pianist - he is well known for his beautiful music all over America and a majority of Europe. Mother, she is a fashion model. She models for famous French style and beauty magazines. Daddy, being the one to wonder around aimlessly and travel in his free time, found Fleuri to be quite attractive. Yes, the press magazines thought, yes! How romantic it would be for a musician and a model from two different countries to get together in a forbidden affair! Mother already belonged to a man, you see. His name was something along the lines of Des-Jardin or whatever. I don’t particularly care for him… Des-Jardin used to beat my mother, to the point that someday she was fearful of losing her job as a spokes-woman of Parisian fashion. Bruised, tearful and heart broken, mother went crying to daddy for help; she was a fan of his classical music, and he in return was a great admirer of her beauty, buying all the magazines and tabloids she was featured in despite being ignorant of the language they were printed in (yes, he is such a stalker!). Many of those terrible magazines featured the two together out for dinner in Paris as a romantic date; my mother being completely in love with Rowland in an illicit affair. Truth be told, they were never anything but friends, pressured into a marriage by adoring fans and pushy journalists. To this day, I really can’t say they’re friends at all let alone lovers or husband and wife… They hate each other nowadays. The pressure was just too much and they ended up in court for a divorce twelve years after I was born. Put them in a room together and they’ll start screaming their heads off at one another.
Despite living with both daddy and mother for the first twelve years of my life, I couldn’t even shed a tear when they were separated. Being at such a tender age, I was still mature enough to realise it was for the best. Don’t you often hear of those children who are made to choose between mother and father, oh how they are dragged from the court screaming something awful with the tears streaming down their faces and the snot dribbling from out their nose… They make me laugh! Don’t say I’m cold-blooded! Please don’t! I refuse to be anything but the “sweet and innocent” Aika Rowland who hardly knows any English but still travels to school each day with a smile on her face and her hair in bunches, pink satchel swung over shoulder as she tackles the day ahead with sunshine and rosy cheeks. Well, that’s what my class mates say anyway… They call me cute and naive, sometimes even cheerful and bubbly - but don’t they know I’m just as cold as my mother? How silly they are. If I were cold-blooded… If I were such a heartless young lady, why did I feel such apprehension towards my mother who didn’t even care whether I lived in the same country as her or not? Well, even if I am as awful as my mother wants me to know I am, I refuse to acknowledge that and will do anything to fully become the princess-like character my class mates are so certain I am.
Born third in Boulogne-sur-mer, the sea-side town of France on the 26th May, 1945, I managed to survive over a decade in a loveless family. I was named “Aika” for a really strange reason - World War II had created a feud between Japan and America, yet my father was quite set on giving me a Japanese first-name. He had said to my mother it was “edgy” and “new”. I just thought it was plain dangerous and stupid. Why not give me a name people can pronounce, huh?! Two more babes were born before me. Don’t ask how my mother and father kept having children despite being little more than friends. I don’t really desire to know.
First came Buddy. He’s my eldest brother. Now, he is nineteen, a grown-up boy, I hardly even see him. Especially since we moved to Vermont, USA. Mother and father were thrilled when he was born. And hey, so weren’t the press! He was such a beautiful baby. All babies are sweet and lovely, but he was something special. Even mother warmed to him. Come 1958, nobody but Pierre and I will speak to him (but only in secret) - he was disowned.
Secondly, Pierre was born with a mop of fiery red hair. Nobody knew how he came to be a ginger and they all dismissed it as a rather funny in-joke. As he was the second babe, the magic was now gone. Fleuri didn’t particularly care for her second born son and daddy was hardly ever there for us with his career taking over his life.
Then came me! By then, nobody hardly even spoke to one another and it was a good thing we were rather wealthy; if it weren’t for our maid and my father’s old wet-nurse, Cissy, I could have possibly starved to death and nobody would have even known! Cissy used to be my father’s old wet nurse back in America. She’d raised and loved him as her own child despite being of different colours, and my father had wanted her for his own children. I Loved Cissy. I adored her. Besides from my two elder brothers, Cissy Jackson was one of the only people I learnt to love. Everybody else felt like another brick in an endless wall.
Social contact has always been hard for me… Eye contact, touching, speaking… pointless conversation and meaningless gestures, even making facial expressions have been quite a challenge for a good part of my life. Mother hates me for it. She wishes I could be a social butterfly like herself, that, or possess some kind of talent to be put to good use. I can shamelessly admit I cannot talk to people like a ‘normal’ person can - my brain just isn’t wired like that! Cissy, being such a kind and understanding lady, she always comforts me and says that I’ll grow into my wings, that I’ll make tons of new friends when they realise just how wonderful I am. If only that were true. We both know I’m just too shy. But still, those words were designed to comfort and compliment in one, so I’ll take it graciously with a smile.
For about twelve years, the six of us all lived together under one roof. We liked to travel, so sometimes we may reside in the French countryside, or in Britain if we fancied a break. Oddly, we had never strayed out of Europe. At the time I was born, there was a lot of tensions between nations. If I were to tell the complete, honest truth, I can say that I was never really happy in any of these places.
Not long after my thirteenth birthday, daddy figured he’d had enough of mother; there was just no spark. There had never been a spark. Not even just a tiny shadow of one. He asked me, ‘Aika, I’m sorry to ask you such a difficult question, but what’s it to be; your mother, or myself? We cannot go on living together in these conditions. I don’t think we love each other any more…’
Biting back my bitter response of ‘Well, you never loved each other, but that’s okay. I understand,’ I instead feigned some adequate amount of sadness and replied, ‘Oh, daddy… I wish to live with you. I would miss you too dearly, but I still love and miss momma.’
He had burst into shameful tears right in front of me and explained that we were to move to America. In class, we’d all heard plenty about America - apparently it was one of the biggest and power-fullest countries in the whole world. Dad had lived there as a child. He was an all-American kid all right. Ever since he left to liberate France during the war, he had always wanted to go back America - New England in particular. He was born in California, but always wanted to see Vermont. I told you he was an aimless traveller didn’t I? Well, yes, he packed our bags and left mother stranded with a country house all to herself, no family, no servant.
I have to admit, seeing my mother so pathetically useless and lonely, the blond Marylin Monroe hair do all greasy and rumpled, her blue eyes a nasty looking turquoise with all the tears she’d shed - it wasn’t a pleasant emotion I’d felt when waving goodbye. It had felt although I had betrayed her somehow by promising to live with dad instead. Still, I remembered how much she made me feel like a disappointment and smiled smugly as I boarded the ship. Buddy, Pierre and I sat together on the steam-liner and played card games for the first few hours to distract ourselves from feeling too guilty. Pierre had burst into tears within minutes. He was only fifteen then… But still, that was only a few months ago - May the 29th to be exact. He’s sixteen now, and still hasn’t stopped being a cry baby. Buddy is different. He’s nineteen and had grown up almost instantly the moment we set foot onto the American soil. It’s like he’s been hardened by the painful fact of how different we all are, being French-American. He hardly ever smiles nowadays; but that’s to be expected, he was disowned after all - but that’s a story I shall tell later. I don’t like thinking about it.
Dad sat a few seats away from Cissy, fiddling his thumbs and staring into space for almost the whole voyage. I think he was depressed, perhaps wondering if he had done the right thing by leaving mother. Being the kind of girl to not stand for seeing somebody so down in the dumps and lost, I went and sat between the two, grabbing my father’s hand in between my own as I whispered; ‘I think you’ve done the right thing, dad.’
I smiled, and he smiled back in return. That was enough for me. If dad was happy, so was I. Can’t have him moping around for the rest of his days, now can we?
A couple of weeks later we arrived in Maine’s port. I’ve never so much as glanced in a text book about New England (most of the America segments were centred around California or Washington) but I could tell right away that it was beautiful. Just smelling the sea salt in the air had been refreshing. It made me think of new starts and happiness. The blue sky with not a single cloud promised warmth, and the comforting arm around my waist from Cissy backed up that exact promise. America was the place to be alright.
After having a little break in Maine - Cissy had prepared a picnic whilst we were still on the ship - we bought a new car and travelled to Vermont. That had taken a long time, and I had felt Buddy and Pierre squirm with discomfort either side of me for hours and hours. Yet still, Vermont offered the same palate of promises that Maine had shown me, and I happily leapt at the chance.
Back in early June, as the car winded up and down the hills and dirt paths that we weren’t entirely certain were official roads - and weaved it’s way down a few motorways, we arrived a few short hours later to our new home. Words cannot possibly begin to explain how excited I felt at that moment. Our home was like something out of a fairy tale! Covered and cloaked in fresh green woodland, our house is painted stark a white in contrast. Being in New England, the house is rather large of course and is made out of lots of different panels of wood. As you step onto the front porch, you can strongly smell the pine trees and watch the birds play in the garden from the comfort of a rocking chair. This is the largest, grandest house I have ever lived in. There are five bedrooms, three bathrooms, one downstairs toilet, two parlours, one large kitchen and a massive dining room. In the basement is where Cissy washes the clothes, and in the attic is where she sleeps all night long. I feel bad that she has to slum it in the attic whilst we have one bedroom spare, but daddy says it wouldn’t be proper to offer the spare bedroom to a maid. Anyway, I love our new home. Whilst I was sat on a deckchair in our garden, I began counting the windows: 18 in total, possibly more as I’m not that good at counting. Our garden is lush with lots of flowers. I won’t even bother counting them! I’d be there all week! Pansies, roses, violets, sunflowers, and these little fluffy purple, pink and white flowers grow all over for acres and acres. As we have no neighbours currently, we have as much land as we please. It’s quite pleasant to sit in the shade of a tree with a comic book and listen to the wildlife, iced tea in one hand, a lace fan in the other.
I’ve spent the past few weeks trying to get better at English. Having parents of two nationalities, I’m supposedly bi-lingual, but still, it never hurts to brush up on what you do know. As I lived in France all my life (and brief get-aways to Britain, never really speaking to anybody as I’m shy) I never had the chance to speak English unless I really had to. Pierre says my English is good, but I think he’s just trying to be sweet to me.
I don’t know about the rest of my family (I include Cissy in that statement) but I’m having the time of my life so far in Jubilee, Vermont. However, I can’t help but have a sinking feeling in my tummy as the days fly past faster and faster; school has to start sometime, right? At the moment, it’s still that time when American kids are on their summer vacation, but come September, I have to start middle school along with the rest of them… Best not think about it now. I’ll just end up crying otherwise… My tummy is in knots.
Right now it is the 22nd July and I am sat with both my arms and legs crossed on my bed, thinking about all the complicated things that have happened within the past two months. Why can’t life ever be simple?
Thinking back to the endless fields of lavender along with those beautiful, rococo-era chateaus, I suppose I miss France along with my mother. We were always at odds, but she’s my mother - I can’t always be bitter about her couldn’t-care-less attitude, can I now? Humans always want what they can’t have. That is true - I long to go back to France just to see that breath-taking countryside. How selfish of me! I better keep those thoughts inside… If I voice them, I think I’ll really hurt my dad’s feelings.
Biting a hang nail as I muse over what to say, what to do, I flinch slightly as I hear my bedroom door creak open slightly. That could only be one person - Cissy. I always know it is her as she has a special way of opening my door. Instead of just barging in like everybody else, she tiptoes around, quiet as a mouse and as stealthy as a fox. The way she creeps about has made me jump a great number of times. You can hardly even hear her come in, just feel her presence and the soft noise of her breathing.
‘Aika, I done making breakfast, but I ain’t done your Sunday best yet. I’m sorry,’ Cissy started, hanging onto the door handle although it was something that would protect her, ‘Hope ya don’t mind going down to the table in your nightgown…’
Cissy Jackson was short and plump with smooth and pure-complexioned dark brown skin. At first, when Dad had introduced us when I was three years old, I couldn’t help but stare at the colour of her skin. I couldn’t help it! Being young and ignorant I had never seen a black person before, or a ‘Negro’ as my father puts it. These days, I can’t help but admire how beautiful she looks. She’s old - in her fifties at least - I’ve never asked her how old she was before… That would be rude! - but still, I can’t help but admire how young-looking she seems. Especially when she offers me that lovely, kind and maternal smile each and every day. On one cheek is a pale pink rupture going down from her high cheekbone to curving around her chin and neck. She won’t ever tell me how she came to get the scar, but I know it can’t be anything good. Before she worked for my dad’s parents and eventually my dad, she had worked in her early teens for an old, crazy man; that’s all she’d let on. I’m guessing he hurt her in a sudden rage. It just makes me feel so sad whenever she turns to face the right… Her hair is a gorgeous shade of ebony and sits just above her shoulders in soft, tight waves and ringlets. She has big brown and deeply kind eyes.
‘That’s okay, Cissy,’ I turned towards the door and beamed, still curled up on my bedsheets. ‘I don’t mind at all.’ I could visibly see my maid relax, her shoulders slumping slightly. I know she is certain I won’t hurt her (never, ever) but I can also tell she’s so afraid of disappointing me.
‘Ah, that’s a relief, it sure is! I know how much you love that dress of yours, Ms Aika. Law! You wear it every weekend!’ She laughed all care-free and came over to help me fix my hair. She brushes my hair every morning and every evening. Don’t give me that funny look - if you had hair this long and un-manageable, you’d need help brushing it too.
‘Law, girl! Your hair getting so long! You tryin’ to be tha’ Rapunzel?’
I giggled in good-nature and tried to keep still despite how much it hurts when she attacks the tangles with my brush.
‘We gotta get your hair nice, we gonna go down in tha’ ol’ nightgown of yours. Hope master Rowland won’t mind you being under-dressed. It’s not like we got company folks round though. He’s very particular that father o’ yours.’
When she was done, I stood from my bed and padded downstairs to greet my family ‘good morning’. Father, Buddy and Pierre were already sat in the far too-large dining room, knives and forks already poised in their hands. Cissy’s cooking is always the best! Today, we were having waffles with honey dribbled elegantly over the top. Mine, was typically shaped like a heart as Cissy knows how much I adore cute things. Some days would be pancakes in the shape of my favourite cartoon bears’ head, with the face carefully crafted with chocolate sauce, others, I would take great delight in nibbling on those lovely French toast, cut to look exactly like hearts or flowers. Buddy always says it’s a waste of good food to keep slicing off parts, just to make his “silly little sister” happy each morning, but I think it looks great! Far more cute than their plain old waffles!
‘Morning,’ they all chorused at once, each taking on a slightly different tone; Buddy sounded like he’d much rather be in bed, Pierre sounded cheerful and father had the tone of voice which clearly said, ‘Why are you still in your bedclothes? It’s 10 in the morning.’ Ignoring that my dad was annoyed, I took my seat at the long dining room table, legs swinging happily under the table. Today was just too good a morning to get all upset over nothing. I had felt worried after waking up when I had time to think to myself, but it’s best just to forget about school for now. We’ve still got just over two weeks before I have to start.
‘Cissy, you make the best waffles!’ I grinned, for once showing all my teeth in my smile. I had my back to the window which looked out into the back garden. It was only ten in the morning, but it was already so warm and I could feel the sunlight flood down upon me, telling me it was going to be an intensely hot day. Jubilee had really hot weather in summer and apparently, in winter Vermont gets lots and lots of snow! Dad told me that sometimes school would shut down as they might get snowed in during a blizzard! How exciting. On the table was an equally as large table cloth in white lace. On top of that was a spotty blue jug containing some citron-yellow and fluffy white flowers from the garden. I kept my eyes trained on those flowers, immediately sensing an uncomfortable aura flood the room.
‘You so kind, Aika. Nah, my waffles are alright, I love to cook and I’m real happy you enjoy them, darling,’ Cissy replied, still hovering awkwardly around the doorway. I wish she’d just sit down or leave us to eat - she’s making me feel uncomfortable the way she looks so fearful herself…
‘You’re welcome - and you know you’re great! You’re just too modest and stubborn to admit it.’
Daddy cleared his throat, signalling that this conversation between Cissy and myself was over. Never mind… We’ll continue it later when he’s not around… Cissy flushed and scrambled from the room, her white and pressed uniform flying out behind her in her haste. I hate to see her feel so intimidated by us. I wish there was something we could do…
‘You didn’t have to be so rude, daddy. We were talking, that’s all.’
‘I’m sorry, young lady, but Cissy is a maid and we have to treat her as one. End of story.’
It seems to me that whenever I want to talk to my dad, he always finishes with a stern and formal, ‘End of story’. I don’t know whether to feel annoyed or slightly put-out. He’s hardly even about, anyways. Yet when he is, he’s always the one calling the shots. Why is everybody in this family so cold?
Surprisingly, daddy’s face softened somewhat. The lines in his face relaxed a little and his blue eyes widened as if mildly taken aback. ‘I’m sorry, darling, it’s just the way I was raised as a boy. It’s a good thing I’m more relaxed than my old man used to be about the servants. He used to beat me when he found I’d been talking with the Negro boys.’
I didn’t quite know what to say in reply, so simply kept my head down and said nothing in return. I was happy daddy admitted he was wrong for snapping at me, but at the same time, I wish things could be different. Ever since we moved to Jubilee, it feels although he’s mad at me no matter what I do.
‘I’m going to go to my room to read, thank you for breakfast,’ I muttered, head bowed as I escaped from the long, narrow dining room. My food was hardly touched despite being so delicious. I felt bad for Cissy who had spent her time making them for me to only nibble on the edges.
Whenever I feel down, I go to sit cross-legged on my bedroom floor facing my wardrobe. A piece of furniture bought when we left France, it stands with its back to my pastel pink wall opposite the windows; painted in a worn and weathered fashion in teal and cream, it makes my room look almost like something you’d see in a fashion magazine. Collecting adorable and elegant clothes is my hobby. My elder brothers sometimes laugh and tease at my fashions, telling me I look ‘too much like a dolly’, but similar to the waffles, I don’t care what they think - I love cute things. Simple as that.
I like to call this fashion, ‘Lolita fashion’. Few girls wear it, but when you pull it off, it looks simply breathtaking. If it were down to me, I’d wear Lolita fashion each and everyday until the day I die. Even when I grow old and wrinkly, I shall still remain dainty and feminine in my lace and frills.
My wardrobe contains nothing but rows and draws filled to the brim with Lolita; this makes me so, so happy. Whenever I need a boost, I go to my wardrobe to feel happy again. It’s like a kind of clothes magic if you understand me. Hanging on the rail to the left is where I keep my petticoats and underskirts to breathe. Petticoats is a necessity, even for trips to the grocery store and going to school. I suppose it’s not unusual to wear petticoats at all - nowadays, all the magazines are filled with petticoat-wearing women, so in that aspect, I’m being fashion-conscious. Next to the undergarments hangs my blouses. I have long-sleeved blouses for Winter and short-sleeved ones for Spring, Summer and Fall, each as frilly and lacy as the next. Next come the skirts - on average they are knee-length, but some may come down to your mid-calf or even your ankles! My skirts are either in solid colours (typically pink, red, white, pastel blue or navy blue) or come with beautiful, fairytale prints. A skirt in pale blue and white stripes accompanied by various pack-of-cards-shaped cookies scattered prettily along the hem is my favourite skirt of all time. Whenever I wore it, I’d get rare complements from mother, so I suppose she approved of Lolita fashion in her own way. I have many dresses I adore and no trousers or shorts to call my own. Wrinkling my nose, I reassure myself that they are boys clothes and not to be touched let alone purchased! Browsing through all my dresses fills me with a certain kind of pride only an avid collector would feel. Each dress is special and unique to me. Some are like pinafores, but much, much more adorable - we call these JSKs, short for jumper-skirts. These kinds of dresses are designed to be worn over blouses. Jumper-skirts can also feature prints or solid colours, but also come adorned with ribbons, pretend corset-like lacing along the back, shirring, pin-tucks and lace of all kinds. You name it; chantilly, broiderie, cotton, chemical… It will be there, on one of them at least! Another kind of dress is what we call OP, short for one-pieces. Now with these dresses, you wear them alone with only accessories to compliment. One pieces can have either long princess sleeves or short, capped sleeves like something you’d see Minnie Mouse wearing. Similar to skirts and JSKs, (you guessed it!) they come in a variety of styles and prints to keep the discerning eye busy.
I have many accessories and head-gear to wear with my precious Lolita and I wear them with confidence, not caring what a silly boy passing by might have to say about them. For hats, call me old-fashioned and dowdy, but I love to wear bonnets, rectangular head-dresses and massive, head eating hair bows to accompany my frilly dresses. I have many ribbons to tie up in my hair whenever Cissy has the time. Not only that, but I have quite a collection of bags in the wardrobe too. All in colours to compliment my clothes (the most common colour being either pink or white) the bags are made out of non-genuine leather but are still of excellent quality, all adorned with the most beautifully crafted bows, beads and frills. Parasols hang on the inside of my wardrobe’s doors for particularly sunny days. You may think me as odd, but think about it - parasols are like a portable shade for a day when it’s too hot to carry on! The parasols are edged with (you guessed it! Yet again.) lace of all kinds to keep the everyday Lolita both cool and beautiful.
What Lolita would be complete without jewellery? I love pearls and white gold with diamonds. My mother gave me a pearl choker with a diamond in centre not long before I left. It goes with my outfits perfectly and whenever I wear it I feel like a Hollywood movie star - perhaps Marylin Monroe or Audrey Hepburn. For shoes, I like to wear Mary Janes with a tiny bit of a heel and leather boots in Winter.
After all, the aim of Lolita is to always dress cutely and elegantly like a little doll - and to always remain youthful and feminine. Lolita is the fashion for those who never want to grow up. That is the reason I fell in love with clothes. These garments represent the person I want to be and always remain; the princess-like, innocent and kindly Aika Rowland who dresses like a bisque doll and acts all cute and defenceless.
‘Aika, I got your dress,’ came a voice from out in the hall. I beamed cheerfully as I realised Cissy was here to give me my favourite clothes. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love all my clothes, but this particular dress is the dress of my dreams. I had to travel quite a bit and do a little begging towards my father to posses this particular one-piece. Bought in Paris in a small, hard-to-find boutique, this dress caught my eye right away. It is a pale, pretty pink like the colour of strawberry milkshake on a hot day or the exact shade of candy floss at the circus. Being such a fancy dress, it would remind anybody of Alice in Wonderland turned pink. On the front is a rounded collar in white trimmed with lace and a little pin-tucked bib complete with ribbons and pearl buttons. The skirt flares out in a full, poof-y, cupcake-shaped way because of my petticoat and when I turn around, you can see a huge white bow tied around my waist and keeping my dress in perfect shape.
Cissy came hurriedly into the room and laid out my dress on the bed nearby. A mighty good thing too, because I was getting rather self conscious hanging about in my nightgown that way for so long. As fast as she had entered, Cissy exited the exact same way leaving me to gaze lovingly at my garments. After staring a while at how beautiful the clothes were, I shoved my door closed for privacy and shrugged off my nightgown onto the floor. I stood in my camisole and panties for a moment, still basking in the clothes and remembering the day I bought them. Padding quietly over on the soft, white carpet over to my wardrobe, I pulled a tiered, fluffy petticoat off its hanger and climbed into it. With the petticoat sat around my waist like the wrapper of a cupcake, I skipped and twirled over to my dress, pretending to be a ballerina as I watched the flouncy, light-weighted fabric float around my body like one of those dresses that belong to the Disney Princesses. I unzipped the back of my one-piece and untied the bow at the back in preparation. Then, I finally slipped it over my head and pulled it down over my petticoat to get the perfect Lolita silhouette. Cissy came running back into my room with a face filled with alarm - I thought her face was peculiar and wondered if she was upset with me somehow, but it turned out she simply wanted to fasten my dress and tie the bow at the back.
‘Your father says that you go to big school soon. This true, baby girl?’ Cissy asked, her face still displaying that same shock from before. I took a deep breath, preparing myself to answer without bursting into tears.
‘Yes, Cissy. I’ll be going to middle school with the big kids come September…’
‘But why? Why can’t ya just be taught the math and English with the Nanny like before?’
‘I don’t know, Cissy,’ I sighed, feeling melancholy at the mention of school, ‘Daddy says I have to go, but I really don’t want to.’
Cissy’s face seemed sympathetic but I could tell deep down she wished she was the one attending middle school. I may sound ungrateful as Cissy never got the opportunity to attend school before she was forced to become a maid for some rich white family. To be brutally and completely honest, I wish we could swap places. I’d much rather cook, clean and babysit for the rest of my days than go to that zoo full of wild animals!

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