“Why was your mother crying? What happened?” Kassandra asks, held rapt by Jeeves’ storytelling.
“My Da had passed, quite suddenly,” Jeeves answers.
Kassandra sees a flicker of a shadow pass over her friend’s face, or perhaps it is an image of her ten-year-old face superimposed, for a moment, on her middle-aged countenance.
“And that was the end of that chapter. Mother and I had to move, I assume because she could not afford the mortgage on that house. We moved in with one of her nieces and her family, five kids of their own, all of us crowded into a place not much bigger than the little house we moved from.”
“Wow. Sounds like it must have been tough.” Kassandra holds an image in her mind of a neglected Jeeves, ten years old, fighting for any attention or space in a crowded house, competing with children who have the edge of being “our own.”
“Tough? Oh my goodness, dear heart, it was fantastic!” Jeeves chuckles. “Suddenly I had companions of around my own age, and they were a riot. We all got along swimmingly. I shared a room with Anna, nearest to my age, and Ella, the oldest. But Ella was almost never home – she was off at college – and being the company was a complete luxury for me. Anna liked being able to boss me around a little, which she’d never been able to do with Ella.
“And finally my life seemed normal in a way, compared with my friends. We were close enough that I could still meet up with them, but mostly I spent time with these newfound cousins. We ate cold cereal, watched cartoons, had TV dinners. I loved it.”
But the shadow is still there in her friend’s face, and Kassandra wonders what sadness is just under the surface of this happy chapter.