9 The Nana Conspiriacy-Reaction with Aunt Rose from The Star Drive-in by Sherry Young

NOTE: Sorry to do this to ye again, but there will be a brief intermission in the family poker game so I can include these two scenes that need to go before the next installment of Saturday Night at the Delaneys. 

The Nana Conspiracy (650 words)

“When is Nana Ruane coming to collect Kathryn?”

Mama stopped pulling on her nylons. We were upstairs in our bedroom watching Mama get ready for work. She kept her clothes in our closet because there was no room for them in the dining room where she slept.

“Don’t be silly, Jayce,” said Mama. “Nana Ruane has enough on her plate without you three.”

“No, Mama, not all three of us. I heard Nana on the phone with Nana Ruane talking about Kathryn going to live with her.” Kathryn put down the book she was reading and sat straight up on the bed.

“What are you talking about Jayce? Stop making things up,” said Mama. “No one’s going anywhere. Wherever did you get that idea?” She looked hard at Jayce.

“Yeah,” said Kathryn. “Sister Agnesia is right. You talk too much.” Jayce whirled around to face Kathryn.

“It’s true!” Tears rolled down Jayce’s cheeks. Her face got red and her voice got louder. “I heard Nana say it. She and Nana Ruane were talking about her and Papa Ruane coming to get you this week.”

Mama stopped in the middle of fastening her second stocking to her garter belt. She looked at Jayce and shook her head just a little bit.

“I’ll get to the bottom of this. You girls stay up here. I’m going down to talk to Nana.” She turned in the doorway. “Jayce, stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry about.” Jayce wiped her cheeks and huffed in some air. Kathryn picked up her book as Mama went down the stairs. We heard the low hum of Mama and Nana talking, then suddenly Mama started shouting. We ran over to the head of the stairs.

“Be quiet,” said Kathryn as we assembled ourselves in the usual places. “We don’t want them to hear us.” It wasn’t hard to hear them.

“WHAT DO YOU MEAN, CALLING BESSIE RUANE, MA?” shouted Mama. Nana slammed a pot onto the stove.

“You can’t work and take care of all three of them, Eleanor. And Papa and I aren’t getting any younger. You know Kathryn’s a Ruane. She has been ever since she stayed with them as a baby. They ruined her, gave her everything she wanted, and now she’s spoiled rotten.”

“That’s exactly why you have no business going behind my back. Don’t you remember what I had to do to get her back when she stayed with them after Jayce was born? I never would have if Jack hadn’t decided to come back to give things another try.”

“Of course I remember. I’m the one who had to take care of Jayce while you were traipsing around down on the Cape to get him back,” said Nana. Papa’s voice floated up the stairway.

“Now Maeve, Eleanor has a point. If Jack doesn’t come back the Ruanes may never give Kathryn back.”

“And would that be a bad thing?” asked Nana? “It would be one less mouth to feed, one less child to worry about.”

“When is this kidnapping supposed to take place?” asked Mama. Her voice was high and tight.

“Oh don’t be so melodramatic, Eleanor. We’re talking about her going to stay with her grandparents for a while to ease the burden here.” We could hear Nana setting the table for tomorrow’s breakfast. “Tuesday afternoon, if you must know. They’re going to pick her up from school.”

“Does she know this?” asked Mama.

“Of course not. Don’t be silly. It would only upset her. I’ll pack a bag for her and Bessie and Tom will pick it up before they go get her.”

“Well, it’s not going to happen. I’m calling Jack.” The pantry door slammed. 

“Maeve, the girls are no trouble,” said Papa. “and Bessie has enough to deal with since Tom’s stroke. You can see how upset Eleanor is. For the love of God, let Kathryn stay with us.”


The Nana Conspiracy Reaction Scene

Mama took me upstairs to Aunt Rose’s the next morning. I settled in under the table with Caroline.

“You wouldn’t believe what Ma’s been up to, Rose,” said Mama.

“Oh, I’d believe anything of your mother, Eleanor.” I heard the scrape of the milk jug Aunt Rose pushed across the table to Mama. “I’ve known her since I was six years old and she hasn’t changed a bit over the years. What is it this time.” Mama started to cry. I was so amazed I snuck out from under the table to watch.

“She and Bessie hatched up a plan to send Kathryn to live with Bessie and Tom.” She could barely talk. Aunt Rose put down her teacup and went over to give Mama a hug. Mama buried her face in Aunt Rose’s apron and cried really hard.

“She’s my golden child.” I could barely understand her between the tears and the apron. “You remember when she was born? She was a gift from God.”

“Of course I remember,” said Aunt Rose. She patted Mama’s back. “I’m her godmother. She was a beautiful baby.”

“She was until the Ruanes got ahold of her. Strangers used to stop me on the street to say how beautiful she was. I felt so special. But I couldn’t take care of her once I was expecting Jayce. “

“And no wonder,” said Aunt Rose. “Jayce came only ten months after Kathryn. Your body was so depleted. Then Jack left.”

“I had no choice. I had to give her to them.” Mama’s shoulders shook and she sobbed louder into Aunt Rose’s apron. It must be pretty wet by now.

“They stuffed her silly,” said Mama. I could barely hear her. They think a fat baby is a pretty baby. She was so fat when I got her back her eyes were nothing but little slits in her face.”

“That’s because a lot of you Irish think a fat baby is a pretty baby,” said Aunt Rose. “I’ve known a lot of women like Bessie. I think it’s because of the Famine.”

“ And after Jayce was born they wanted to keep her. They said I couldn’t take care of both of them.” She looked up at Aunt Rose. “If that was true, why didn’t they take Jayce? She never stopped crying. And she’s the one who takes after Jack. She has his red hair and his eyes. They should have been happy to have a baby who takes after their precious Jack.”

“Well now that you know about this crazy plan I’m sure they won’t dare to go through with it,” said Aunt Rose. Mama straightened up and scrubbed the tears from her face with a napkin.

“You better believe they won’t,” she said. “I called Jack. He was furious with his mother. He’ll put a stop to this nonsense.” She reached into her blouse, pulled out the pack of Raleighs and a matchbook and lit up. “In fact, I think this is going to bring us closer, Rose. I really do.”


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