One Day

One night, Lucille wanted to go out and insisted to the point she made a fuss about it, telling Mr. Otto she will leave without him. It took a bit of convincing among other things, but Mr. Otto agreed. He visited his daughter, kissed her goodnight and made sure Cecilia called him immediately at the restaurant if anything were to change. When Mr. Otto was out of ear shot, Lucille instructed Cecilia to call the doctor instead.

When they were gone, Marigold begged Cecilia to let her call Mona. Marigold knew the number by heart, and instantly cried when she heard Mona’s voice.

“There, there you are simply not use to the different sounds,” Mona said, “sounds can come off differently in different situations. We can become accustomed to them or not. They are just sounds in the background like a constant buzz. We can write them off and forget they are there or command them unwanted attention and bring them to the forefront… Remember when we lived by the ocean in Greece. The ocean was so loud we had to shout above the noise just to hear each other. Our ears ached constantly and when we were away, we welcomed the calmness. But then other noises got us to forget about the roaring ocean. I can tell you living that close to the ocean, I surely don’t miss it. It was just a moment that came and went, but it surely didn’t affect us. We forgot about it. This is just a moment you can let it pass by, and take advantage of the moments you have with your father. Let the ocean be, it can divide and conquer and you must be prepared to choose how you handle it… As for you tummy troubles, drink some water and let it settle with some ice cream, as I always say.”

Marigold, spoke a little longer and soon her tummy aches began to ease and asked Cecilia if she could have some ice cream. Soon enough, the sweet, frozen treat made her forget what she was supposed to remember, and remember what she was supposed to forget and all was well. Marigold had a lovely time with Cecilia. The talk was idle, but it wasn’t about what was said but how the mood was quickly transformed into a wonderful moment, each enjoying each others company.

Mr. Otto had been worried about his daughter he barely was able to enjoy his night out with Lucille. They had returned earlier than expected and he found the girl in the kitchen laughing and smiling. He was at peace and didn’t even seem uncomfortable when Lucille went to her room in a huff. Normally he would have chased after her, but it wasn’t all about her. That night, Mr. Otto put his daughter to bed and they spoke of many things. Though, she rarely asked for much, he promised her a doll. Her response surprised him very much.

“Why, daddy,” Marigold said. “I didn’t do anything to deserve a doll.”

“Well, you have been a patient child,” Mr. Otto said, “you do as you are told, you never whimper, never cry, never even complain. You have been a good little girl.”

“But I’m always supposed to be good,” Marigold said, “it’s what it’s expected of me. Children should be seen not heard. Anyways, daddy, I don’t play with dolls anymore.”

“Don’t you play with any toys,” he said, “what about your toys at home. I sent plenty of them on Christmas and your birthday.”

“I know, daddy,” Marigold said, “and they are lovely, but I’m not a child anymore. I’ve outgrown them. I don’t do childish things anymore.”

“Why didn’t you say anything before?” Mr. Otto was new to this.

“Because, daddy,” Marigold said as a matter-of-fact, “it’s impolite to refuse gifts from others. But, I cherish them, I keep them in my room, I don’t play with them. I am far too busy.”

“Busy doing what?” Mr. Otto was curious.

“Learning how to sow,” Marigold said, “it’s more important to learn something that will be most beneficial for me when I grow up.”

“I must have done something right to be so lucky,” Mr. Otto smiled at his daughter.

“Then I must be lucky too,” Marigold hugged her father.

The next day, Marigold made little fuss about her stomach ache, eventually as she got busy helping Cecilia she simply forgot what caused them in the first place.

“Sometimes, all you need is to keep your mind busy on other things,” Marigold said when Cecilia mentioned the absence of her tummy aches. They were both on their knees cleaning Lucille’s bathroom when Cecilia noticed Marigold feeling better.

“Is that so,” Cecilia said. “Is that what your mother says?”

“That’s what Mrs. McNamara says,” Marigold told her.

Mrs. McNamara was a military wife married to Mr. McNamara a Lieutenant Colonel serving the Army Air Forces as this transpired. The couple were dear friends of Mona and often took the child in when Mona had a sudden itch for wayfaring, leaving Marigold under their care. It was known that Mona had a habit of disappearing. The McNamaras’ were childless and didn’t mind Marigold. Lucky for Mona she had many understanding friends. Mona always promised to return, and true to her word she would reappear a few days later. The longest she left Marigold with a stranger was two weeks with Mona’s grandmother. The grandmother didn’t agree with Mona’s lifestyle and believed the child was better off in a stable home and called child services and she was taken away.

I believe that’s when Mona contacted Mr. Otto and he began to be part of the big picture. Marigold was returned safe and sound into Mona’s arms, making it the last time Mona ever saw her grandmother. She never forgave the old woman, and though, grandchild and granddaughter never saw eye to eye, the old woman left a small inheritance to Mona, which is how she and the child were able to travel so much.

As I was saying before, Mr. and Mrs. McNamara were a middle age couple who lived the military life. They occupied a small house decorated with all of Mr. McNamara’s medals and awards, photographs of important people they met, trophies and other beautiful stuff Marigold marveled at. So, while Mr. McNamara was away at work, Mrs. McNamara would spend her days cleaning the house from top to bottom, left to right.

“Spit spot, everything must be in order, everything must be spotless and clean before Mr. McNamara comes home,” Mrs. McNamara would say. “That’s how he likes it and that’s how we keep house.”

From morning after breakfast was over and Mr. McNamara would leave for work, Mrs. McNamara would be on her hands and knees scrubbing the kitchen floor. Marigold had to dust and polish the furniture, followed by wiping the mirrors, washing the windows, vacuuming, some more dusting and straightening the rooms as they went along. Lunch was then prepared and soon back to cleaning and scrubbing.

“Everyday?” Cecilia couldn’t believe her ears.

Marigold had to explain that somethings had to be done everyday while certain tasks were done once a week. For instance, bathrooms were cleaned everyday, beds were made before coming to breakfast, laundry was sorted and washed. Blinds and curtains, ceiling fixtures, base boards, rugs were done once a week. While Marigold continued the job at hand, Mrs. McNamara would prepare dinner before Mr. McNamara would come home.

“Didn’t she let you play?” Cecilia had to ask.

“She made it a game,” Marigold said, “we would sing songs as we did every task. There was always something to do. She made it fun. My favorite task was polishing the silver. Mrs. McNamara would make it a race to see who can polish the most and the best. She always won.”

Indeed, Mrs. McNamara taught Marigold to enjoy everything she did and to stop letting it be a chore. It became pleasant like dancing to a song. Marigold even told the story of how McNamara was clutching her chest in awe when she mentioned that Mona was a bit messy. You could tell which rooms Mona had been in as she would leave a trail of her dresses, shoes, unmentionables, and other clothing scattered about. Mona never put anything in its place, shoes came off as she walked in the door, coat thrown on the sofa, purse on the kitchen table, even money was displaced and found in different parts of the apartment. Strangely enough, Mona was neat about her hygiene and that of the apartment, she just had an affinity for being disorganized, nothing was ever in its place.

“And you said, Mrs. McNamara enjoyed it?” Cecilia would ask.

“Oh yes,” Marigold would say, “She was neat and tidy. Mr. McNamara was the same way. I often found him cleaning his shoes, guns, and his medals he polished. They both like order and were not happy when I told them Mona was anything but organized.”

Yes, Marigold had brought the subject up when she was having dinner with the McNamaras’. They were not happy at all and even had a talk with Mona when she returned. Mona appeased them and promised to make mends with her lack of order. Of course, Mona would listen but rarely follow through.

“It is only their opinion,” Mona would say, “whether I agree or not, in the end it is my choice, no need to make a fuss about it. They just want to be heard and so I listen.”

“Don’t you think they might be right?” Marigold would say.

“Perhaps,” Mona said, “but if I would have disagreed it would have been very much unprofitable for me.”

Hands and knees in Lucille’s bathroom is where Lucille found Cecilia and Marigold, interrupting them both. Lucille needed Cecilia to get the dinner table ready for company, barely noticed Marigold and mistook the child to be that of Cecilia, and instructed Cecilia to keep the child out of her sight.

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