1968

"Will this rain ever stop?"

Karen withdrew her hand from the window before sliding down from the chair to find a more engaging activity than drawing faces in condensation. She headed downstairs to where her brother Edwin was practicing piano and refrained from interrupting his efforts.

It puzzled her that any fourteen-year-old boy could be as disciplined and poised as he was, especially when some grown men were known to still behave like juveniles.

"No wonder he wants to become a priest. He doesn't know how to have fun..."

She scurried right on past so as to not risk bothering him, before entering the kitchen where her mother was busy cooking one of the family favorites, lamb and potato stew. A Judy Collins album spun on the record player and Karen settled for merely leaning forward against the bench while watching Gertrude work.

"Bored, darling?" The woman asked sympathetically with a brogue that was almost as strong as the one Karen's father Seamus possessed.

"Yes, Ma..." Karen replied with a restrained nod.

"Well, occupy yourself by helping me. I'll read a new book with you after dinner."

Karen reluctantly complied in the hope that Gertrude would make good of such a statement. Her mother tended to be quite lively when reading stories aloud and she found the voices that the woman put on to be quite entertaining.

As promised, she was able to sit beside Gertrude at around eight o'clock and felt a jolt of excitement upon seeing the book on the table.

"Gone with the Wind?" She said in awe while barely able to stay composed. The dark-haired and mustached man on the book's cover was in her opinion, quite handsome and she anticipated thrilling scenes of romance about to unfold.

"Scarlett O'Hara was not beautiful..." Gertrude began to read first, before pausing and waiting for Karen to calm down.


"After all...tomorrow is another day." Gertrude finished as she slammed the book shut in relief that a month of regular readings was finally over.

Karen had been drawn to the story in a way that she felt foolish for failing to anticipate. Of course, a girl on the cusp of adolescence would care more about the romance than any recounted hardship of war.

She decided to humor the eleven-year-old so as not to discourage her from reading similar books in the future.

"Ma, it said that Scarlett was Irish, didn't it?"

"You could say that. Her mother may have been French, but in spirit, she was certainly one of us..."

"Ma, what do you mean?"

"Every time she is beaten down, she always gets back up and does whatever she can to survive, regardless of what others say."

A look of pride formed on Karen's face and she asked Gertrude the real question that was on her mind.

"Who was the better man, Rhett or Ashley?"

"Neither. They're both different ideals."

"Ideals?"

"You'll find when you grow up that most men are a cross between the two. Don't settle for one until he's proven that he still loves you at your worst..."

Karen nodded while remembering all of the times Edwin used to calmly tolerate her tantrums. If her mother's words were true, then she had to find a man with at least the same level of patience as her brother.

She only hoped that such a man would also be handsome, so that staying attracted to him wouldn't require too much willpower.


Karen stood in front of the bathroom mirror with an apple in one hand and her hair comb in the other. She inhaled nervously before beginning to run the comb through her thick brown hair and taking a bite out of the apple.

She chewed and hoped that the ritual would work, while continuing to steadily comb her hair.

"Come on, future husband. I want to see what you look like..."

She swallowed and raised her hand to bite the apple again. A faint glow appeared just above her shoulder and her heart started to beat faster.

"Is it you? Please hurry up, I need to get back to bed before-"

The bathroom door swung open and Karen immediately flew into a panic at the sight of Edwin's face appearing right behind her. She spun around and almost crashed into the mirror as a result of her trying to evade his sight.

He turned on the light and didn't seem the least bit surprised by the fact that she was holding a partially eaten apple.

"Get out now. I need to piss..."

Karen did precisely that and scurried her way back to the stairs, before stopping and finding herself at a loss over what to do with the fruit in her hand.