The babies came quickly, one right after the other, until Cora forgot where she ended and they began. James treated her more like a mother, and less like a wife. At night, after the children were tucked in, and Cora slipped under the covers with James, she’d try to stay awake, until he was asleep too, so she could have a few minutes to daydream. As she waited for her time, she could feel him rubbing her long hair between his thumb and forefinger until he drifted off. Cora lay quietly, planning for changes she imagined would bring happiness to them all.
They’d lived with James’s family for six years. Six years was a long time to chafe under rules and restrictions that were foreign to her nature. It became apparent that he had planned, with his father instead of her, to build his own box addition to the crooked line of boxes that accommodated the family. Cora’s plans for happiness were threatened. She had to approach a challenge to male dominion very carefully. The knot in her stomach made her begin to realize how desperately she craved freedom to make decisions for her family, without interference.
She transferred her secret wish for independence to her in-laws right to peace and quiet as James’s younger siblings grew up and moved on. They found common ground in building a simple house down in the lower field. Her husband’s thoughts and hopes had remained privately his own. Cora was surprised at his subdued appreciation for her alternate plan. She imagined this small house, that joined them as partners, might be an opportunity for future confidences and shared dreams.