“Look at this nice playground, Jean.”
She can almost hear the well-intentioned desperation in her voice when she looks at her daughter who’s busy tracking a butterfly across the street outside their new home.
“Yeah, it’s nice,” she says, after a long while, as though she’s thought about it and landed on a verdict.
Cindy hadn’t known what to do apart from moving here when Jean’s father died. Not because she had been struck with grief – rather the opposite, he had been a horrible man and they had not been in touch save for the occasional holiday phone call and money transfer – but because he had been the only tie to Pleasantview. She’s never had a family. Not a proper one, anyway. Not a family that cares for each other and helps each other. Her parents had been too busy drinking to raise her, to notice that she fell into the wrong crowds and ended up pregnant as a scrawny teenager scared of her own reflection in the mirror. She isn’t sure they even noticed she had the baby at all. Jean’s father had wanted her to move to Pleasantview – or he had said so, anyway – so she had taken a bus there and stood on his doorstep, heavily pregnant. He hadn’t even opened the door but his mother – an old, angry woman – had shoved her inside and made her confess everything about her relationship with Jean’s father. He’s too good for a bad girl like you, she had hissed but every month since that day, Cindy had received money, enough money to pay the rent for a tiny flat and buy food to feed herself and the baby girl that arrived like a ray of sunshine, despite everything.
Despite everything, Cindy doesn’t regret Jean. Never, not for a second.
Even Barchester has begun to seem like a good idea these days, after a few months here. Jean likes her school and her teachers. For someone like Cindy who had loved school but not even finished high school because of how her life planned out, it seems extremely important that her daughter gets a good education. The last thing she wants is for Jean to become like her, like anyone in the cursed Cox family with their drinking and their violence and their inability to become better. This ugly house with its many urgent renovating needs is a damn palace compared to some of the places her family lives in. She had bought it with the money from Jean’s father’s inheritance and even if the wallpapers are dirty and so old they almost fall from the walls, Cindy is proud of it. It’s her home. Their home. She owns this tiny spot of land.
And they are making it their home in whatever ways they can.
Whatever ways they feel familiar with.
* Thom Hiller stopped by and they were ACR:ing it out on the sofa after a few hours together. We’ll see what happens, I have no immediate plans for anyone so far. 🙂