Mary Russell’s War (eighteen): the empty home
1 December 1914
Last week, O irony, was Thanksgiving. Yesterday, I returned home for the first time. Dr Ginsberg went with me, and I admit that I was grateful for her company in the car that drove me through the city streets and up the hill. I was braced for the emptiness of the house, for cold air and darkness—and so I was shocked when the kitchen door came open before my hand and warmth washed down across my face.
Our cook, Mah, had been to see me every few days, but invariably wearing Western style clothing and shoes that threatened to trip her at every incautious step. Here, she was in her usual trousers and tunic, and when she put her arms around me…
It was difficult.
A while later, I went upstairs with Dr Ginsberg. The bedrooms look very strange, with no flowers, cleaned to the walls, the beds stripped. Lifeless.
I was there not to stay, but to see the place. Next week I will come back and we will pack my possessions to leave here, perhaps forever.
Before then, perhaps I ought to have a conversation with Dr Ginsberg about how adults go about negotiating. It is a skill I imagine I am going to need, unless I am to find myself trapped in an impossible situation. BRITISH MERCHANT SHIPS IN FEAR OF RAIDERS, say today’s headlines. How much more must passenger liners to Britain feel in danger of attack?
Because I am going to Boston, to my grandparents, but I am not going to remain there. I am not.
The earlier episodes of Russell’s War are collected here.