And then Margaret’s mother became the child, and Margaret had to grow up quickly in order to take care of her. She didn’t have time to go out and join in on the plans of her friends; she sat at home in a chair beside her mother, next to the window so she could watch the day pass, and they talked together. Margaret’s mother talked a great deal of nonsense, and Margaret quietly assented to what she said, not wanting to disturb her little world. And sometimes, just sometimes, Margaret wished she could escape into her own world, too, where life was always happy and there was always the expectation of it becoming even happier.
“Your father will be home soon from his business, won’t he?”
Margaret’s mother pushed the war out of her mind; it didn’t exist for her, and she believed her husband was in Berlin on a business trip.
“Yes, it will be very soon.”
“And he will bring lovely things back to us: chocolates and silks and lace…” and she would go on all day, dreaming of a better life that would never come.
But Margaret wasn’t patient all the time.
“You don’t want Papa to come home, do you?” her mother said one day, in an accusing voice. “You don’t want him to come back because he’ll make you stop seeing that boy from the village. I suppose you hope he’ll be killed on the way home or something dreadful will happen to stop him.”
“Mother! What are you talking about?”
“That boy, Ernest, you’re always sneaking out to see, and you know Papa doesn’t approve. It would be just like you to secretly hope Papa never returns. And then you’ll probably sit around and wait for me to die, and then go off and marry Ernest.”
“I will not let you sit and say those lies!”
“It isn’t a lie—it is the truth; I know it! You go off every morning to see him…”
And Margaret rushed out of the house, slamming the door behind her. She ran, not knowing where, just running away.”
“Margie! What’s wrong?” She heard a familiar voice.
She stumbled and fell on Nikolaus, nearly knocking him over.
“Nikolaus?” she asked, as if in a daze.
“Yes, it is me. Are you alright? What’s going on?”
He held her steady while she wiped the tears from her face.
“Come, sit down; this log will do. Tell me what happened.”
“Oh, Nikki, I am so tired of everything—this isn’t what life is supposed to be. I am young, I want to live, I want to do so much, but I can’t.”
– From Part One, Chapter 13