Dear Diary, Matthieu and I fretted over what to do and couldn’t seem to find common ground no matter how hard we tried. It was difficult not to let this put a little rift between us. My old self would have dug in her heels and demanded her own way. But she also would have lost her husband.
Thank goodness, I’m not like that anymore! As selfish as I feel I need to be for Marty’s sake, when it comes right down to it, I understand that Matthew and the children have never known any other life. I think, for the most part, the children could adjust even if they were to drag their feet because they’ve been on trips with my parents.
They’ve seen microwaves and television sets. Most of them were so happy to use washing machines and dryers, too, and to have hot water whenever they pleased.
But dear, sweet Matthieu… he just would feel so out of place. Was it even fair to ask him to leave the island?
We sat on the couch together. Almost immediately, our hands linked and he tenderly touched my face.
At the same time, we both said:
Him: “We should move off the island.”
Me: “We’re going to stay on the island.”
We stared at each other for a moment, the gentleness and tears in our eyes conveying the love we had for one another.
I have a suspicion that we were thinking the same things. That we were both very fortunate to love someone who would give everything up for the other.
It was he who broke the silence. “Blue, I don’t know what to say. It’s not fair to you or Marty to stay here.”
Shaking my head, I said, “It’s not fair to you and the other children to make you leave either.”
“Are we back where we began then?”
For a moment, I chewed on my lower lip. There had to be a compromise somewhere. There just had to be!
“What if,” I began, “Marty can wear her new clothes as long as she is home? If she leaves to go somewhere, she follows the dress code?”
“Yeah, that might work,” he mumbled.
Narrowing my eyes at him, I said, “Do you have another idea?”
“A while back, I, uh, heard some advice given to someone else and I think it might be something we should do.”
“Oh? Well, spill it.”
“A trip – uh, a vacation.”
I couldn’t stop my eyes from lighting up. “A vacation?”
“Yes. Maybe it would be good to get away for a while. Harvesting is done and perhaps Leo Jr. could look after the place and take in our animals.”
“Where should we go?”
He winked at me and said, “I think that’s more your department.”
I took some deep breaths to keep my heart in my chest where it belonged. “I’ll arrange everything!”
As we stood up, he pulled me into his arms and our lips met in one of those delicious kisses we always shared. The kind where you forget everything around you and your lips tingle.
“I love you, darlin’,” he murmured into my ear.
“I love you, too,” I sighed.
The next day was Susan’s birthday. It was a bittersweet moment for me, seeing my youngest entering her teen years. Don’t tell anyone, but there are tears in the cake.
Susan was really into it, waving her party favor about and hopping from one foot to another like a little bird.
When the moment came, I was amazed at how much she looked like me. If she had green eyes, she would have been a dead ringer.
(On a side note, I kept wondering where her blue eyes came from. Daddy and I had green eyes. Later when I was alone before writing this entry, I flipped through Daddy’s diary. That’s when I remembered that my biological mom had blue eyes and so did daddy’s twin sister Jilly. I didn’t linger there long because I didn’t want to think about my mother Chrissy or the pain Daddy went through when his twin died.)
As I was clearing up after the party, Alice came outside to help me. But, as it turns out, she had something on her mind.
“Blue, I hate to ask you this, but may I stay here for a while?”
Stopping in my tracks, I stared at her, my mouth gaping for a moment. “Of course, but what is wrong?”
“I quit my job at the St. Cyrs. After the way you and your parents were treated the other day, I couldn’t stay.” Tears filled her eyes and dripped onto her cheeks, making zigzagged trails to her chin.
Putting the dirty dishes back onto the table, I took her in my arms and hugged her. “Oh, Alice, you shouldn’t have done that. We’ll be okay and we’re not the only ones in Winchester to have had a nasty moment being corrected by the St. Cyrs.”
Wiping her face with her apron, her mouth curved into a slight smile. “I know, but I really love your children. I’m never going to have any of my own, nor do I want to. I can’t stand being around that Laci and I will not stand by and condone how she spoke to you and your family.”
“The children really love you, too. We all do very much. You’re my dearest friend. I just hate to think you’ve done this on my account.”
“I was thinking, actually, this could give me a chance to do my healing and midwiving full time.”
“There certainly is a need for it, that much is for sure.” Taking a napkin from the table, I helped her dry her eyes again. “You can stay here as long as you like. I’m sure Matthieu would say the same.”
“Thank you, Blue, it means a lot.”
I put some sheets and blankets on the cot in the front room for Alice while Matt rounded all the kids up before bed. We needed to tell them about our plan.
Briefly, we explained to them that because of the island’s dress code, we’d decided Marty could only wear her new clothing at home and nowhere else. We decided to leave out the unpleasantness about Laci and Agathe since it would do them no good to know about that.
Marty stared at us, a stricken look on her face. “My grandparents gave me these clothes, so how can that be wrong?”
“It isn’t wrong… in the world outside of this community.” I decided to address this because I didn’t want my husband to come off as the bad guy, since he wasn’t. The children knew I wasn’t from here originally, so they may expect me to be laxer in the rules. “But we live here right now and, as you know, we dress a certain way for a reason.”
“It’s the rules,” Charles said. “We live differently because we don’t like how the outside world conducts themselves.”
“It’s more that we want to preserve our way of life, son,” Matthieu said. “I know some of you will agree with me and some of you won’t. And that’s okay. We dress the same as everyone else because the clothing in the outside world can create problems we don’t want here.”
“But how?” Susan asked. “I think Marty’s clothes are beautiful.”
“I don’t,” Carrie said.
“I’ll tell you something that may help you understand,” I ventured. “When I was a young girl, we wore uniforms to school for much the same reason we all dress the same here. Where I grew up, if you didn’t wear the ‘right’ clothes, other children would make fun of you or exclude you from their activities.”
Lissie’s nose scrunched up and she said, “What are the ‘right’ clothes?”
“The clothing on the mainland is all produced by different companies. Some clothing, made by more prestigious companies, is more costly. So, children often want the more expensive clothing. Then it becomes a competition to see who has the best clothes and if you’re a child whose parents can’t afford what the other kids wear, you’re sometimes treated differently. Often times, a child’s parents can afford it, but don’t think they should spend that much money on the item. Which is perfectly reasonable.”
“That doesn’t seem very smart,” Laurent said.
“In a lot of ways, it’s not very smart at all,” I agreed. “But it’s a different life. I love the world I came from, but I love this world more.”
“Marty should get rid of her new clothes,” Charles said.
“What?” Marty yelled. “No!”
“No, no, no,” Matthieu smiled.
“Your father is right. It’s nice to get something new once in a while and there is nothing wrong with that. The point is, there is a time and a place for these things.”
“We’ve actually gone way off track, though,” Matt said. “Guess what? We are going on a vacation!”
During the next half hour, we ended up having to explain what a vacation was. Until then, I’d just assumed the kids knew this stuff already.
More than the others, Lissie seemed to ponder the thought of leaving the island for an extended amount of time. “Will we wear new clothes and meet new people?”
“Only if you’d like to,” I said in my best Leo Capra reassuring voice. (He was always so good at that!) “I’m sure we’ll all have a lot of adventures and it will be fun.”
Smiling a little, she said, “I think I like this idea!”
Her twin Carrie looked from her to us and back again. “I don’t want to go, but Lissie isn’t going without me.”
As is typical with Carrie, she doesn’t much cotton to change, but once she experiences something new, she usually warms to it.
Once everyone seemed to be on board with the idea of leaving the island for a while, I started right away in making plans. Over the next few days, I took the ferry to the mainland to call Daddy and Leela and make arrangements.
Barely able to contain my excitement, I also spoke with my brother. Matthieu had already talked to him about the farm and animals, so that was one thing I didn’t have to arrange.
“I think it will be good for Theo to have some extra responsibilities,” he agreed.
“As for the house, chickens and cows, Alice will be staying here and has said she can manage that.”
“So, what are the big plans?”
Grinning from ear to ear, I laid it on him. “We’re going to the villa in Monte Vista!”
Our parents owned the villa which was situated near a vineyard which they also owned. They weren’t much for wine making, but they rented the land out to a local resident who had a wine business. An elderly couple had a small apartment in the house off of the exercise room. They took care of the house and grounds since my parents were rarely there these days. Daddy had arranged to give them some time off so they wouldn’t be there when we were. It was a bright and sprawling place that I knew the family would enjoy.
After whistling, Leo Jr. said, “That’s going to be a blast!”
“I think so, too,” I gushed. “I figured it was the best choice since life is slower paced there and there’s a lot of country, too. Laurent and Susan will love the architecture and history.”
“There’s a nice garden there for Matthieu,” Leo smiled. “But try to get him to do something else besides that.”
Laughing, I could imagine it now. I would want to do something fun and Matt would be working in the garden. His idea of fun was about to change, I told myself.
“Do you think this is what you guys need then? I mean, once you get back, the same problem will be here.”
My brother… always grounded in reality. “I think it will give us the break we need to see things from a new perspective when we get back.”
“Yeah, that seems likely. I guess what I really wondered is if you were hoping the family would like it so much, they’d want to stay?”
“I can’t ever seem to hide anything from you,” I sighed. “I’ll admit, the thought did cross my mind. But when it comes down to it, if that doesn’t happen, it’s okay.”
“No really! I chose to make my life here because I wanted to. I could just as easily have gone back to where I came from and made a life there, too. But I didn’t because this is where I belong. This is home.”
Smiling at me, he said, “I know what you mean.”
Susan joined me as I began to walk back to the house. Since her birthday, she’d been rather mopey and quiet. When I tried to find out what the trouble was, she shrugged and told me ‘nothing.’ Perhaps now, she was ready to tell me.
Greeting her with an easy smile, I said, “Your chores are done bright and early!”
When she didn’t say anything else, I said, “What do you say we make some apple pies today? Doesn’t that sound good?”
“I’d rather not.”
“But you love to bake. Won’t you tell me what’s bothering you?”
Tears welled up in her crystal blue eyes, making them look even bluer than they were. “I’m fat, Momma.”
“What?” I gasped, touching her arm. “Why would you say such a thing?”
“Look at me!” she sobbed. “Everyone says so! I can hear them whispering when I’m around.”
My heart breaking in two, I embraced her, patting her on the back. “Who is everyone?”
After her sobbing subsided some, she said, “All the kids. I’m just going to stay home and never go anywhere again.”
“Do your brothers and sisters tease you about this?”
She shook her head. “No. Momma, why are they so skinny and beautiful and I’m so ugly and fat?”
Gripping her arms tightly, I looked into her eyes and firmly said, “You are not ugly and fat. Did you know that every one of your sisters has had something they’ve needed reassurances about?”
Shaking her head again, I could tell she was listening. I didn’t think it was right to tell her what her siblings were self-conscious about, so I skirted around that part.
“Well, they have. Being a teenager is not easy for anyone. Even if someone seems perfect on the outside, they are far from it and have things they don’t like or wish was different. Do you know what I’ve told every one of your sisters?”
“You are exactly the person you are supposed to be and I love you.”
“I love you, too, but that won’t make me skinny,” she laughed.
This was a perfect example of what I loved about Susan. Even when she felt like she was in the depths of despair, she could laugh and put a smile on her face. She was a trooper if ever there was one.
Laughing also, I said, “I think it’s too hot today for pies.”
“We could slice some fruit.”
“Perfect!” I said.
Author’s Note: I would like to thank my good friend Bee (Poses by Bee) for making the pose I used with Matt and Blue in the first few pictures. Her poses are so detailed and just perfect! If you haven’t checked out or downloaded her poses, you should. 😀