“There’s something to be said for being an orphan.” Beryl stared into her cocoa mug; cocoa, by all that’s sacred, please, not tea. “Or being raised by wolves.”
“I hear you.” Evangaline stared at her own mug – coffee, for much the same reason the Beryl was drinking cocoa. The whole family to come to to complain, and her niece had come to the Aunt. “They can be a bit of a double-edged sword.”
“They have another edge?” She rubbed her knuckles with her thumbs; Eva found herself wincing in empathy.
“They do.” She reached across her kitchen table to brush her fingertips against Beryl’s hand. “It’s hard to tell sometimes. But they – they made us who we are, Beryl.” And that was its own sword, now wasn’t it?
“The ancestors made us. Great-great-great-great grandmothers and, more importantly, Aunts.”
“And uncles and grandfathers.” She stared at her coffee. “Don’t forget, they may have made us, but they made them, too.”
“What do you mean?” Bery’s shoulders shifted and her spine straightened a bit. One of her hands uncurled from around her mug. “The grannies?”
“All of us. Every woman who got married at seventeen to avoid being the Aunt, every one who stayed single until forty to be the Aunt, every choice they’ve made about who to marry and where to live and where to let their kids go to school. Every one of them was cut from the same cloth that we are.” She patted Beryl’s hand again. “And every one of them had the same hard decisions.”
“Then why are they making all of mine harder?” Beryl’s hands clenched again.
Eva had heard this before. She had said it before, although it hadn’t been Asta (it had been her uncle Kevin, actually) to whom she whined. “They’re trying to help. They aren’t always succeeding, but it’s good to remember that they’re actually trying to make the choices easier.”
Beryl looked up at her Aunt. “And what about you?”
It was a fair question, and Eva gave it the consideration it deserved. “I’m trying to give you space to figure out who you are. We do better – all of us, humans, family or not – with space to be ourselves.”
“And drink cocoa and not tea?”
“And drink cocoa and not tea.” The lessons about reading the grit at the bottom of a cocoa mug could be saved for another day.
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