Copyright © 2006 by Leah Kelley




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     “Girls, please!  That’s enough arguing!” Joseph’s wife yelled toward the back seat.  “Can’t we have any peace around here?”


     Joseph didn’t think so.  There hadn’t been peace in his home in years.  It was depressing.


     “Girls!” he barked.  “That’s enough!”


     The girls quieted but continued to whisper insults toward one another.  He really had to get that extra bedroom finished.  The girls were together entirely too much.


     “You don’t have to be so hateful with them,” his wife told him.


     Joseph sighed.  The girls were fifteen years old – fifteen and a half really.  Another two and a half years, and he’d be free.


     He looked at his wife.  At one time he’d thought her beautiful.  He supposed she would still be considered beautiful by modern standards, but she no longer appeared so to him.  Not that she cared.  He’d asked her not to cut her hair in one of those new fangled short hair-dos, but she hadn’t listened.  She’d taken to wearing pants, too, something to which he’d been adamantly opposed.  She’d even allowed his daughters to purchase a pair of pants against his will.


     Women nowadays thought they could do whatever they wanted, and basically they could.  He sighed as he thought back to the good old days.  Yes, there’d been the depression and the war, but women and men had known their place.  Here in the sixties, females thought they ruled the world.


 Well, no more.  Not for him.  When the girls grew up, he was leaving his wife.  As a Christian, he didn’t believe in divorce, but he’d rather live alone than stay with this woman one day past the girls’ 18th birthday.  Oh, he’d continue to support her as was his duty, but she’d have to make due with an apartment rather than the nice home he now provided her.  He’d see that she had enough to eat and clothes on her back, but that was all.  Of course, he’d have to sell his home to afford to keep up two households.  His own standard of living would go down as well, but he didn’t mind.  He’d had enough.


     The girls could choose to stay with whomever they pleased.  He sighed.  He and Bonnie had been so excited to have twin girls five years after their marriage as they’d began to think they were unable to have children.  The girls had been a joy, so much so that he and his wife wrapped their lives around them and forgot how to enjoy each other without them.  Now the girls seemed to be turning out just like their mother…sharp tongued and rebellious.  If they were younger, he’d paddle their behinds.


     “I don’t see why we have to go to your brother’s anyway,” his wife said, resurrecting an argument they’d had off and on for a week.


     “Bonnie, I told you why.  This is Mom and Dad’s 50th wedding anniversary.  All they ask is that we come to one dinner with them.  That’s not too much to do to celebrate 50 years of marriage.”


     “But why do we have to stay with your brother and Sheila?  Why can’t we stay with your parents?”


     “We’ve been over this too.  My parents’ apartment is too small for all of us, and Pete invited us to stay with them.  I’d like to spend some time with my brother.  Is that okay with you?”


     “Why can’t we get a hotel, Dad?” Candy asked from the back seat.


     “I don’t want to put the money into a hotel room.  Not when we can stay for free at my brother’s.  Besides, it’s only for a couple of days.”


     “I don’t wanna stay there,” Cassie piped up.  “Lynn gets on my nerves.  She follows us around all the time.”


     “Cassie, your cousin loves you.  You were the same way when you were twelve.”


     “We didn’t have anyone to follow around,” Candy said, “and we wouldn’t have anyway.”  Joseph bit his lip and didn’t reply.


     “Joseph, you know I love Pete, but Sheila just drives me crazy,” Bonnie told him.


     “I don’t see why you don’t like Sheila,” Joseph said, “she seems nice enough to me.”


     “She’s too nice.  That’s just it.  She’s perfect.  She makes me sick.  No one could really be that perfect.  She’s just trying to make everyone else look bad.”


  “She seems genuinely nice to me, Bonnie.  I think it’s all in your head.”


     Bonnie stared out the window and didn’t answer.  Well that was fine.  He’d rather have her silent anyway than spouting her nonsense.



     When Joseph and his family arrived at Pete’s house, they all put on a smile.  It made him sick at his stomach.  None of it was real.  Their home life was miserable.


     Pete’s family met them at the door.  Sheila’s smile seemed genuine as she welcomed him and hugged Bonnie and the kids.  She looked as a woman ought to look.  Her long hair was neatly put up in a thing on the back of her head.  She wore a pretty feminine dress.  None of that women’s liberation junk here.  Pete’s daughter looked as a girl ought.  Pete’s house, though smaller than his own, was neat and clean and smelled of something delicious that was baking in the oven.   His little brother had done okay for himself.  His stomach soured with envy.

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