I am posting a bit more about (Ani) moving back to southern Ontario and starting up a new store - and the internal conflict it caused. This is followed by a trip home for Christmas during that same year which comes much later in the chapter.
(an excerpt from The Wailings - my book in progress)
By the end of the week they had sold two coats a day; a record for the business. After a number of phone calls, Jerome claimed he had to get back to the store in Timmins, and he hurried Margaret off early on Sunday morning. Ani stood at the edge of the driveway that exited onto Waterloo Avenue and waved at the van until it turned the corner and was gone. She stood staring at the corner for a few minutes before heading back inside to clean up after the hectic week they had all put in.
Standing in front of her kitchen sink, she turned the hot water tap on full and poured a drop of dishwashing liquid into the gushing water. Automatically she piled the breakfast dishes they had all used that morning on the counter as she waited for the sink to fill, and then put the utensils and glasses into the bubbles as her mother had taught her. The blank wall behind the sink wavered as she stared at it before it dissolved into a blur, and she rested her head on her arms and burst into sobs. The crying came from the bottom of her stomach, shaking her body with each shattered breath she took. A long line of drool stretched from her open wailing mouth towards the floor and she swiped at it with a sudsy hand, astonished at her own grief. When the tears slowed to an occasional hiccup, Ani finished the dishes and turned her attention to rearranging the apartment. She didn’t want to think about her loneliness or how much she missed her parents. She couldn’t balance those feelings with the permanent mental scars she carried from the beating they had given her almost four years earlier and she shoved it all away, wrestling with the furniture instead.
And another little excerpt from the same chapter -
Later that evening, while John held court in the livingroom, Pet suggested to Ani that they go for a walk. Bundled against the cold they had ventured out on Ani’s familiar running route, their breath pluming around their heads like little thought clouds in the cartoons. Having walked three blocks in complete silence, Ani finally turned to her sister and asked her to spill whatever it was that was on her mind.
“It’s not easy telling anyone this Ani,” Pet replied. “But you’ve got to promise you won’t tell Mom – Ever.”
“Geez Pet. How bad can it be,” she asked as she studied her younger sister’s face.
“I’ll let you be the judge once you hear.”
A hundred ideas flashed through Ani’s mind in the ensuing silence but she kept her silence and let Pet find her own way to tell her news.
“This news comes from Neil’s mother who heard it from her friend.”
“We’re off to a good start I see,” Ani said.
“Do you want to hear it or not? You know I can’t vouch for the friend but we both know Mrs. Belshaw and she’s not one to gossip.”
“Sorry, Pet. It just seems all so mysterious.”
“You know Mrs. Belshaw works at the taxation centre over on Notre Dame Avenue?” Ani nodded and kept silent. “She heard this from a friend who works at the same place. This woman’s best friend lives in Timmins.” Pet noticed the questioning frown that crossed Ani’s face and hurried on. “This ‘best friend’ is supposed to be having an affair with Dad.”
Ani’s mouth fell open and worked like a fish out of water but no sound came out.
Mental images of her father, from as early as she could remember until the present, flashed through her mind and were replaced with snatches of conversation. She thought about his attitude when they had set up the store in Guelph and how he had suddenly needed to go to Timmins. She thought of her mother and how many years she had put up with him and his anger. She knew that he sometimes never talked to Margaret for months on end if he was mad about something. And she also knew that Margaret always carried on in her happy manner no matter how he treated her. She knew this would kill her.
“Mom can’t know – ever.”
“That’s what I said before I told you.”
“Are you sure Pet? I mean – who would want him really?”
“Of course I’m not positive. I haven’t actually seen him in the act. But Mrs. Belshaw says this woman is always bragging to her friend about Mr. Black this, and Mr. Black that, and how he’s such a big man with all these fur stores. And then she tells her about what they do and where he takes her when he comes up to Timmins – and well – you know.”
Ani didn’t want to think about the ‘you know’ part. She didn’t want to think about any of it.
”Well now. This is an ugly little secret we have to keep. Isn’t it?”
“I had to tell someone. It was killing me having to look at his face and knowing no-one in the family knew. You’re not mad at me for telling you are you?”
Ani’s laugh was bitter as she shook her head and reassured her little sister. The walk home was almost as silent as the first few blocks had been, but both girls were lost in thought and didn’t even notice.