Chapter 4

It had been nearly a whole week since Henry’s arrival. Life had been peaceful and pleasant, my father was less harsh on Henry, which was a thank goodness, and our mother was actually acknowledging and speaking to Henry, which was a footstep closer to a normal life though she still ignored me.

I began going to school again, I had taken it off from my studies for a little bit, to spend time with Henry, but now I needed to focus. School was alright, ever since America had joined the war effort, school had become a place of patriotism, which was wonderful! But I wanted to advance in academics so I decided to study on my own, especially during the dark time after Ralph’s death.

I had friends at school, which was pleasant and sweet, but I had become distant to them, especially when I attended school less. I was going to graduate soon anyways, and I was advanced in my class, so I just needed to finish school, then go to College next year. But friendship was important, and something I needed. 

So school was a place of social life, a place where I could talk to my friends, without tainting the interaction with my family struggles. I had used to attend social events with my family, especially my mother’s side, who are very wealthy. But now my parents had become somewhat like an outcast to their families, after Ralph’s death, and mother was not well enough, so we were never invited anymore. Like we were forgotten.

After school, and socializing I would spend time with Henry, which was nice and wonderful, yet worrying. Henry looked like he wasn’t sleeping. I noticed his shadows under his eyes, and his usually full of life face, now seemed pale and tired, yet he managed to smile and laugh. Which made me worry further. 

Today I could not take my worry any further, I needed to ask him or confront him. So nervously after a brief day of school, and some small talk with Henry, I finally had the courage to ask him about his lack of sleep, and tired appearance.

“Henry, you seem tired. Are you sleeping poorly?” I asked as kindly as I could, without arousing suspicion.

“I am rather tired. But I am sleeping, winter days always make me tired, remember..” he replied taking it very lightly as he sipped his third cup of coffee that day.

I knew he would answer like that and decided to go a little more aggressive. “I saw you a few nights ago, pacing in the middle of night. I don’t know, but are you sure?” I asked quietly, as I sipped my coffee.

“I am sleeping fine, that night it was rather difficult to fall asleep because I was not used to it. Don’t worry, Shirley, I am perfectly alright.” he replied laughing it off, which made me worry further, but I decided to try to believe him.

After some more talking, Henry quietly excused himself, to visit one of his friend’s who had also just returned. I slowly finished my coffee, thinking about what to do next. I liked to know everything, I also liked having everything incontrol, which was not the case in my family for the last year. 

I concluded to seek advice from Bertha, who happened to be the most understanding and “good” person I knew. I also knew that she was not afraid of stating the truth which I needed at the moment.

I stood up and looked for Bertha, who was in her small bedroom, looking at a photograph, which she quickly tucked away when she saw me. Usually I would have been completely suspicious of that sort of action, but today I needed to focus on Henry.

“What is it Miss. Shirley?” she asked kindly, as she stood up.

“It’s Henry. I know this will sound pathetic and foolish, but I just need to tell you. He’s not sleeping at night, I know of this because I’ve seen him, it also seems that he’s having bad dreams, though that’s not official.” I rushed on. “I don’t know what to do?” I said with a sigh.

“Well, is he telling you anything?” she asked me kindly.

“No, not at all, he actually laughs everything off.” I replied, with an even bigger sigh.

“Don’t sigh. You are probably right, but if he does not need your help or asks for it, then let it go, put your mind at rest until he needs your aid, until then enjoy your time with him without worry.” Bertha suggested as she patted my arm.

“I am not sure…” I said before Bertha interrupted me. “Sorry to interrupt you but, he needs time, like we all do.” she said with a kind smile.

I had to agree with that, I was rather controlling and I was also far too hasty. Henry had been through who knows what, I just needed to back off, be his little sister, not his mother. But I was still myself, and I knew I could never fully let things be, but I would at least try.

I thanked Bertha for her insight warmly, and decided to move forward. That night I promised myself to be less curious, and have less of an urge to know everything. That night I went to sleep peacefully, and I believe that Henry mostly did also.

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