Harriet Eastbrook was just my age, born about a month earlier, on 1 August.[i] I was thin with dark hair and eyes; she was also thin—but blonde and blue-eyed. Still, from the moment I saw her come through that door with that jelly doughnut in her hand, I knew she was my twin, in every way that mattered.
That day—the day she fainted—I didn’t learn anything else from her about her dreams. I could tell that she didn’t want to talk about it in front of her mother and father, so I changed the subject. So when her mother came over to join us again, I was telling Harriet about our neighborhood.
And it was not until two weeks later—on Thanksgiving—that we got to talk to each other again.
“What do you think, Vickie?” my father was asking me a few days after Harriet fainted. “Do you think we should invite the new neighbors over for Thanksgiving?”
“Oh, yes!” I cried. “That would be wonderful!”
We never had company for Thanksgiving, never went anywhere special for holidays, especially that one. After all, Father was from England, where the day isn’t even a holiday. But Aunt Claire wanted to make sure I learned American ways, so last year she and I made the dinner earlier in the week, and then on Thanksgiving Day, all we really had to do was sort of heat things up. After we ate, Father started reading a book and fell asleep on the couch after about three pages. I helped Aunt Claire clean up—then went upstairs to read until I heard Father moving around again. Later, in the evening, we made a huge kettle of turkey and rice soup. It took us weeks to eat it all.
Father picked up the phone and called the Eastbrooks while I listened on an extension.
“We would love to come,” said Mrs. Eastbrook. “I mean, I think it will be okay. We don’t really have any other plans, not that I know of.” I thought she was sounding nervous. “But I’ll need to check with John when he gets home.”
“Certainly,” said Father. “We hope everything works out. We’d love to see you again.”
“Mr. Stone? Would you mind if I asked you a question?”
“Of course not.”
“Your accent … you’re not from around here?”
Father laughed. People asked him that question all the time—and he had a ready answer for them. “I was born and brought up in England,” he said. “Emigrated here some years ago. So, really, it’s you folks—you colonists—who have an accent, isn’t it?”
And we all laughed and hung up.
“Do you think they’ll come, Father?” I asked eagerly. “Do you really think they’ll come?”
“I don’t know,” he said. “John Eastbrook is not easy to predict.”
“What do you mean?”
“About Mr. Eastbrook?”
“Oh, nothing, Vickie. I didn’t mean anything, really.”
Late that afternoon Mrs. Eastbrook called back. Father was still at work, and Aunt Claire was doing the wash. So I answered.
“This is Harriet’s mother.”
“Yes! Can you come for Thanksgiving?”
“Yes,” she said in a tight voice.
In the background—faintly—I heard Mr. Eastbrook’s voice, too. “I can’t believe you accepted an invitation without asking me first!” he was shouting. “I just can’t believe it!”
She covered the mouthpiece—but I could still hear her: “John, I’m talking to the little girl!”
“I don’t care!” I heard him, even louder now.
“What time would you like us?” she asked me.
“I don’t know,” I said. “I’ll ask Father. He should be home pretty soon.”
“Okay,” she said. “We’ll talk to you later, Vickie. Harriet is really looking forward to seeing you again.”
“That’s great!” Father said when I told him. “It’ll be fun, having company for Thanksgiving, won’t it, Vickie?”
“Yes.” I waited a moment. “Father?”
“I don’t think Mr. Eastbrook wants to come.”
“Why do you say that?”
“I could hear him, when Mrs. Eastbrook called. I could hear him say so. And Father?”
“He sounded angry, too. He sounded very angry.”
“Well, Vickie, they’re new in town. Maybe he just feels uncomfortable going to a stranger’s house on a big holiday like Thanksgiving.”
“Maybe,” I said. But I wasn’t convinced.