The rest of the day had passed by uneventfully, but, in the school paper meeting, Mark had liked her article. She was the only girl, but that didn’t matter to her.
She came home that evening with a smile on her face. To her surprise, her mother was sitting on the couch, knitting a scarf.
“Hi, Mom,” she said.
“Hello,” Alison responded. She seemed to be in a good mood, and Rosalie remembered what had slipped her mind earlier that day, that Alison had suddenly quit her job. Rosalie did not know what to say, so she said nothing about it. She trusted that her mother would find another one before things got too difficult for the two of them again. Rosalie found herself wishing that she was old enough to work. Of course, she was still far too young to be a real journalist, but she wanted any sort of job. Something where she could get out of the house and earn money of her own.
Then, Rosalie saw the cookies before her mother pointed them out. Alison smiled. “I made chocolate chip cookies.” Rosalie smiled and walked over to the kitchen counter. She got herself a plate and a glass of milk, and went to sit by her mother. Because her mother was rarely in her a good mood, and she wanted to make the most of it while she could.
Her mother smiled as she bit into the chocolate chip cookie. It was still warm, and she didn’t know if there was another sensation that was quite as comforting. Not since the cinnamon rolls her mother used to make on Christmas morning, anyway. She hadn’t made them in at least a few years, and maybe, one day, she would again.
“Mom?” Rosalie asked.
“Why don’t we go to a movie?”
“I’d like that,” Alison said. “Why don’t you check the paper?”
Rosalie obliged. Her mother often used to take her and Sean to the movies. And her father loved the movies too. It was one of their favorite pastimes as a family, but they hadn’t gone since Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers’ The Barkleys of Broadway the year before. Her favorite movie was The Best Years of our Lives. It always made her a little sad, because she knew her father hadn’t returned home from the war, but she liked it nonetheless. She didn’t talk about often because the day after they’d gone to see it, her mother had seemed especially depressed for the rest of the week. But maybe one day she’d have the patience and discipline to do her hair like Teresa Wright.
They were relatively silent on the train over, and Rosalie found herself racking her brain for something to say. Why was she so bad at talking to people? Sean wasn’t like that. He always had friends. And Laura wasn’t like that either. And she didn’t think her mother was, that is, whenever it was she did feel like being sociable with people. She then thought about why she was upset when had moved out and gotten married. He was her only friend. Maybe she needed to make more. Because she couldn’t think of anything to say, for the rest of the train ride over she decided to people watch. The train was less crowded than she thought it ought to be for a weekday evening, but it was peaceful. Everyone minding their own business. Most were reading the paper.
They got to the theater and Rosalie was hungry for some candy, but Alison declined to buy either of them snacks. Before the movie began, still relatively crowded for a film that had been out for a while now, there was a newsreel about the ongoing conflict in Korea, and a Donald Duck cartoon. Then, the film began, and Rosalie was swept up in it the way she always had been as a child.
The film was better than Snow White, better than Bambi. It was probably Disney’s best one yet. Rosalie thought herself to be like Cinderella in a way. Maybe one day, things would be really different for Rosalie, just like they changed for Cinderella. And all because she was a good person no matter what.
Alison didn’t have much to say about the film on the ride home, only “I’m never going to remarry.” Rosalie said nothing. As far as she knew, there had been no one other than Jim. She hadn’t so much as dated in the past six years. Sometimes people said things to her, and Alison always responded vaguely. Rosalie wondered if another man would help her mother not feel as lonely. But as far as she seemed to be concerned, there was no one on earth that could ever compare to Jim.
They got home, and Rosalie retreated into her room to read. She still had the energy to do more, although there was nowhere to go and nothing to do. So she sat on her bed and read, letting the hours pass until she was finally tired enough to go to sleep.
She awoke at two o’clock in the morning after a vague but intense dream. She was walking knee deep in snow in some sort of forest. Her brother was there, but he was so far ahead he was almost out of her eye line. She was trying to get him to turn around, but he wouldn’t. Then, she woke up.
She wasn’t sure what to make of the dream, but eventually, her thoughts turned to her father, and one of the last nights they had spent together. The night before he was deployed, they’d celebrated Christmas early. It was a perfect day. They’d made cinnamon rolls in the morning, they listened to Christmas music on the radio, and they even went sledding again. Shortly after Sean and Rosalie laid down in bed that night, there was a knock at the door.