It Was Strange, Yet It Felt Familiar - Bonnie Smetts

Margaret was excited. It was a rare day that she felt excitement, she could probably go back and mark them on a calendar in the two years they’d been in India. But today she woke and was happy.

Their driver had the car running and ready when the three of them emerged from the house. How many days were they actually together as a family anymore. How many days did they spend with other families. Sasha had made them a picnic lunch, everyone would be competing for honors about whose contributions were more English. An English picnic.

Margaret shut her eyes to the sights as they passed out of the city. Today she would do what her husband must do every morning. She would not see the children with deformed feet and lips. She would not see the men begging. She would not see the girls with babies filling their tiny bellies. No, she would stare at Charlotte’s almost gold hair.

“Mommy, mommy. Look at the kites.” Charlotte saw them before Margaret or Ash, they were lost in adult thoughts, but not their little girl. “Look, can we get a kite too?”

The driver pulled up in to a spot between two other cars she recognized. The Watsons and Andrews were already setting up under a lovely tree. “Mommy, let’s go.” And with that Charlotte pushed open the car door.

“Charlotte, wait. Wait for us. We’ll get a kite. Just wait.” Ash came alive and was with them. Let the burden of their strange daughter fall in him, just for a moment, or an hour, thought Margaret. “We must say hello to everyone, then we’ll get a kite.”

Margaret saw that the kite flyers were the children of her friends. For a lovely moment, she felt comfortable. At the park on a lovely day with friends, or with people that she could at least pretend were her friends. Charlotte charged ahead, ignoring her father’s words.

“Ash, why don’t you go ahead with Charlotte, I’ll get us settled with the others.” Ash smiled and went after Charlotte. Go dear, you go see what your daughter sees.

“Margaret! Come, come see what our cook has made for the picnic.” Margaret turned to her friends, surprised she was excited to see what Annabelle had brought. She had not care if her basket was filled with the best chicken or tarts or who knows what Sasha had made. Margaret was simply happy to be here, out of the house, out of the nightmare of her mind, that of a stranger in a strange place. Margaret made the rounds of the other women, taking time to bask in the comfort of their soft cotton dresses and weak-scented perfumes.