Tuesday, June 24


AFTER DINNER WAS over and we were reclining in the plump laziness of two courses, my parents thanked me from the underneath of their hearts. *(A deal had been struck earlier: if I would ask for a pay-rise from my employer to lift me out of my money worries, they would furnish me with new shoes and a few new white shirts; it was a deal I felt ashamed to take but I was in desperate need of both and could certainly not afford them on my own.) Why should they thank me? Me, a drain upon them still! I felt ignominy. They talked sadly of my youngest brother, who still lives with them, yet spends no time in their company, refusing childishly, and whose absence upsets them immeasurably. ‘He’ll grow out of it,’ my father assures my mother. ‘But you,’ my mother’s eyes—‘you’ve always been willing to spend time with us.’ I told her, them, every-one in earshot—‘I’ve always liked spending time with you.’ It was true but then all that truth brought through me a rip in the tenderness of my disposition. I was sad for them and never wanted to leave them whenever I had to. The dejection I always suffered at leaving them was exacted upon me tenfold at that moment. The restaurant was mostly unoccupied despite it being a blissfully summer Sunday afternoon. Out past the weighed awning the sun was playing an adagio of shirtless pedestrians. I smiled and thanked them for the lovely meal and the lovelier weekend. My father ordered a dessert, my mother and I coffees.

* Context that cannot be unread.

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