ODYSSEY OF THE MIND
"You're doing wonderful, Rose. Walking already..." Both Catherine and Rose lit up with bright smiles. Rose was only taking very small steps, but she was, indeed, able to walk on her own. The next step would be trying to walk down stairs. For now, Catherine had her pacing up and down the hallway. Just to get her leg muscles more used to it.
Rose would continue with her task for at least an hour every day. Sometimes Catherine had to literally talk her into stopping. Often after meal times, Rose would spend a few more moments on her labors. Which meant that by bedtime each evening, Rose would be truly exhausted. Her sleep was often peaceful, but it wasn't always.
Catherine could never predict when a night would be difficult for Rose, and she had at last returned to sleeping in her own room, only going to Rose when needed. Tonight, as Catherine still lay awake, she heard Rose begin to weep. There was no calling out, so Catherine knew Rose was not dreaming again. This had to be something else. But what?
Catherine got out of bed and went directly to Rose's room. "Rose, dear, whatever is the matter?" asked Catherine.
Rose looked up at Catherine with sad eyes and a weepy voice. "My legs...they...they hurt so much."
"I think you've been working yourself just a little too hard, dear. I'll be right back with something for the pain." Catherine went into the bathroom and searched her medicine chest for the aspirin she knew was there.
"Ah, here we go." Catherine picked up the small bottle and went to the kitchen to get a glass of water. She walked upstairs and gave Rose two aspirin with the water.
"Now, stick your heels out as far as you can," Catherine instructed Rose. Rose accidentally started pointing her toes outward and she screamed in pain.
"Heels, Rose, your heels!" Catherine screamed it, but she said it lovingly.
Rose stretched out her heels, and the pain started to ease a little.
"There now, you seem better already. But I do think you should not practice your walking tomorrow. Give your muscles a good rest. Just tomorrow. Then you can continue. You can spend a good bit of time talking to your mother tomorrow afternoon, if you'd like."
"Oh, yes, please!"
Catherine smiled. "Good. Now, would you like to try going back to sleep?"
"Yes, I think so. I am sorry I disturbed your sleep."
"No, I was awake. And either way, don't you worry about it. I'm here to take care of you. It's that simple. Now, sleep, my darling. I'll talk to you in the morning."
Just moments after Catherine left, Rose had relaxed enough to drift off to sleep again.
When Rose opened her eyes the next day, the first thing she thought of was speaking to her mother. Soon enough, the time came. Catherine had been insistent that Rose not walk that day, and she could not walk down the stairs anyway, so James had to carry Rose to the telephone. Rose asked if she could be left alone, so Catherine excused herself and went to the kitchen to make some breakfast.
Rose dialed the telephone and was a bit surprised to hear her mother herself answer the phone.
"Mama, it's Rose."
"Hello, dear! How are you doing today?"
"I feel wonderful," she said with a smile. "I've been walking so much that my legs started to hurt. But they're okay now...though Catherine told me I shouldn't walk for at least today."
"I think she's right. You just rest today. I'm so glad you called. I've been thinking about you all day."
"Mostly hoping you will be home soon. I've been talking about you so much, even the servants can't wait to meet you."
"You got new servants, Mama?"
"Yes, dear. I know what you're thinking, and don't worry. Things will be fine. And I know you'll just love everyone. They've all been so kind to me."
Rose could hear the sadness in Ruth's voice. "It's okay, Mama. I'll be home soon. You'll see."
"I know, dear. It just gets so lonely. I still haven't opened your bedroom door. And I won't...not until you're here; safe and sound."
"Thank you. You went in there when you went home?"
"Yes, just once. It just seemed wrong to disturb anything so I left it as you had. I'm hoping it will help you settle in when you return."
"I'm sure it will, and I can't wait to be there. But I've been wondering about something for a while. Why did you sound so unhappy when I brought up Daddy? I know you basically wanted me to forget him, but I can't."
"I don't expect you to forget him, Rose. I know you never will, either. Let's just say that it's hard for me, okay?"
"Yes, Mama," she said solemnly. Rose expected her mother to maybe explain, but she did not say anything.
"Have you been going out much lately?" Rose asked.
"No, no. Not much. Every now and then I go for an afternoon walk, but other than that, I just stay home."
"I think you should go out. It would be good for you. I know that I would be out and around if I could."
"Yes, I'm sure. We can do those things together when you come home. I'd rather wait for you. And as far as those questions, you have asked me...just wait a little longer, darling. I will explain. I give you my word. It's just rather...complicated, and I don't think you need to hear it right now. Considering your condition."
Rose lost patience very quickly after hearing this. "Don't be so condescending, Mother. If that is really the only reason you won't explain, I want you to. Right now."
"Don't you take that tone with me, young lady," Ruth scolded. Immediately afterwards, she was sorry for what she said.
Rose became silent, but her heavy breathing indicated that she was angry.
"I'm sorry, Rose."
Rose still did not say anything for a while. "I want an explanation, Mother." Her voice held a harshness that Ruth had seldom heard.
"And in time, I'll explain."
"Oh, all right." Rose was still not at all happy, but decided it would be best to give in to her mother's wishes. But she also decided she was tired of talking.
"Mother, I should hang up, now. Catherine has made breakfast...it will get cold."
"Very well, dear. Will I talk to you tomorrow?"
"I don't know," Rose said honestly. "I'll try to call soon. I love you, bye." Rose's voice was flat, and Ruth could tell she was unhappy with her.
"All right. I love you, Rose. Good-bye." Rose hung up the phone and Ruth returned to what she was doing when Rose had called.
"May I at least walk to the kitchen, Catherine?" Rose called out.
"Breakfast is just about ready, so not until then." Catherine sounded cross, and Rose began to worry.
"Catherine...did I say something to upset you?"
Catherine joined Rose beside the telephone. "I understand you're sore and frustrated, but I really wish you hadn't spoken to your mother that way. She will tell you what you want to know, I'm sure. You just need patience. I have talked to her, remember. I could tell she loves you very much."
Rose shot Catherine an angry look. She knew that her mother loved her, but she was too involved in her frustration to bother to remember.
"I am just SO sick of having my mother talk ill mannered of my father." Rose's voice was very cross...a tone Catherine had never heard Rose speak in. "And I refuse to simply let this be."
"Well, you're just going to have to," Catherine scolded back. "Your mother has made no bad comment of your father. She has just refused to speak of him."
Rose mumbled underneath her breath, speaking to herself. "Young lady, if you're going to take that attitude, you can just forget about your breakfast. So do you want to eat or not?"
"Yes, I do. Please don't be so angry with me. I need you too much. And I am sorry for saying those things, but my mother is so stubborn."
"So are you. It makes you clash with your mother sometimes, that's all. You look like you're about to cry. Please don't. It's going to be all right. Breakfast will be done, now you can walk to the table, and then have a bit more of a walk after we eat, all right?"
Rose nodded her head. "I'd like that." For such a simple task, Rose really did seem to enjoy walking very much. She stood up and very carefully made her way to the kitchen table. It caused her no pain, just some discomfort.
"Are you all right, Rose?"
"Yes, my legs just need to get used to this."
"I know, but you really are doing wonderfully. I'm proud of you, my little Rose. Now, eat up. You look very hungry."
Quite soon, Rose had finished her meal and had her very short walk around the kitchen. Then, she said she wished to return to her room. Catherine called James into the kitchen and had him take Rose upstairs to her bedroom. After James had excused himself, Rose's eyes began to drift about the room. She did not know what to say, or even what to think. Frustration with herself and with her mother caused her to just want to go to sleep.
"Are you tired, Rose, dear?"
"Yes, I think so. Would you mind just leaving me alone so I can rest?" The gentleness had returned to Rose's voice and Catherine was pleasantly surprised.
"Of course I don't mind. I'll be right downstairs. Just call if you need me."
"I will. I haven't told you in a while, and I want you to know how grateful I am for everything."
"You're very welcome. I'm extremely pleased you are getting better. Perhaps you will be home sooner than you think."
"I certainly hope so. I got angry with her just now, but I miss my mother so much. All I want is to get well."
"Yes, and you will. You're well on your way, darling."