Previous part here.
While David was here, the atmosphere in the house was festive, even when the Hanukkah lights no loner burned As soon as he left, there was a definite drop in the levels of cheerfulness of everybody in the family. Even the boys seemed less raucous that before, and Aunt Anne sighed each time she mentioned what a long time there is still to go until the summer holidays, when David is supposed to come home again.
"I wish he didn't have to be so far away from home," she sighed, "but I do hope he will be here in time for the birth of his baby brother or sister."
Personally, I thought that if anything can bring David rushing home as soon as possible, it would be this. He wouldn't miss it for the world. It seemed a bit strange to me at first, to think that one brother is in diapers while the other had already left home, but I suppose such age gaps between brothers are inevitable in a family as large as Aunt Anne's.
To my vast surprise, David mentioned me in his very first note, which was emailed to Aunt Anne almost as soon as he was back in the dorms. After a brief update on his studies and questions about the well-being of everyone back home, in particular his mother, David wrote:
"Dear Mom and Dad, I remember that Becky is turning sixteen next week. Here, not far from the campus, we have an opening course for talented young artists, ages sixteen to twenty-one. Some of my friends are participating, and people are coming from all over the country. Why don't you arrange for Becky to attend? She draws and paints so beautifully. The course will only last two weeks, and it's supposed to be a real marathon, she'll learn so much. Living arrangements are provided on the campus, and it's supposed to be very closely supervised so you shouldn't worry. And I'm around as well, I can keep an eye on Becky. Send me a reply as soon as you can, so I can reserve a place for her."
I waited with baited breath. Could I really be so lucky? If anyone had asked me for whatever I might wish as my birthday present, I couldn't come up with anything half as wonderful as this!
"It's a great idea, isn't it?" said Catherine enthusiastically to no one in particular. It was one of those few times she and I were completely in agreement about something.
Uncle Ben and Aunt Anne exchanged glances, and my heart fluttered somewhere within my belly. I could see right away that Aunt Anne was not like to stand up and cheer and tell me to run off and pack my bags.
"I don't know," she finally said, "what do you think, Ben?"
Uncle Ben "humphed" something incomprehensible and it was obvious to me that Aunt Anne counted on him to be the one who says no. Luckily for me, Uncle Ben clearly had no idea what part he is supposed to play, and Aunt Anne gave him a look that could be described as nothing short form murderous.
"I must ask for your Grandmother's permission, anyway, Becky," she said. And she swept off to talk to Grandma on the phone. And Grandma, bless her heart, thought the art course was the most terrific idea she ever heard.
At the end of Aunt Anne's conversation with Grandma, I went off to my room to pack, hardly believing my luck. I took some clothes, my diary and painting supplies, even though I was told those are supposed to be provided for us. I was made to solemnly promise that I will call every single day, or Uncle Ben will be sent to pick me up and bring me straight back home.
And then I was off.