“That was her,” she said when she had finished. “She woke your dad up and he had to go and make her quit.” This seemed unlikely. Yesterday Sara had left her bed only to go to the bathroom. “He told me,” said Irene. “She wakes up in the middle of the night and thinks she’s going to do something and then he has to get up and make her quit.” “She must have a spurt of energy then,” said Juliet. “Yeah.” Irene was getting to work on another label. When that was done, she faced Juliet. “Wants to wake your dad up and get attention, that’s it. Him dead tired and he’s got to get out of bed and tend to her.” Juliet turned away. Not wanting to set Penelope down—as if the child wasn’t safe here—she juggled her on one hip while she fished the egg out with a spoon, tapped and shelled and mashed it with one hand. While she fed Penelope she was afraid to speak, lest the tone of her voice alarm the baby and set her wailing. Something communicated itself to Irene, however. She said in a more subdued voice—but with an undertone of defiance—“That’s just the way they get. When they’re sick like that, they can’t
help it. They can’t think about nobody but themselves.” Sara’s eyes were closed, but she opened them immediately. “Oh, my dear ones,” she said, as if laughing at herself. “My Juliet. My Penelope.” Penelope seemed to be getting used to her. At least she did not cry, this morning, or turn her face away. “Here,” said Sara, reaching for one of her magazines. “Set her down and let her work at this.” Penelope looked dubious for a moment, then grabbed a page and tore it vigorously. “There you go,” said Sara. “All babies love to tear up magazines. I remember.” On the bedside chair there was a bowl of Cream of Wheat, barely touched. “You didn’t eat your breakfast?” Juliet said. “Is that not what you wanted?” Sara looked at the bowl as if serious consideration was called for, but couldn’t be managed. “I don’t remember. No, I guess I didn’t want it.” She had a little fit of giggling and gasping. “Who knows? Crossed my mind—she could be poisoning me. “I’m just kidding,” she said when she recovered. “But she’s very fierce. Irene. We mustn’t underestimate—Irene. Did you see the hairs on her arms?” “Like cats’ hairs,” said Juliet. “Like skunks’.” “We must hope none of them get into the jam.” “Don’t make me—laugh any more—” Penelope became so absorbed in tearing up magazines that in a while Juliet was able to leave her in Sara’s room and carry the Cream of Wheat out to the kitchen. Without saying anything, she began to make an eggnog. Irene was in and out, carrying boxes of jam jars to the car. On the back steps, Sam was hosing off the earth that clung to the newly dug potatoes. He had begun to sing—too softly at first for his words to be heard. Then, as Irene came up the steps, more loudly.
You've reached the end of your free preview.
Want to read all 230 pages?
- Spring '15
- Debut albums, 2005 singles, Carla, Alice Munro