But the warm rembrances faded and the siblings returned to the dark and stormy night. Blue flashes occasionally lit the kitchen, but otherwise Paul and Jeanie sat in a stunned silence.
“So what are you doing?” Paul ventured.
“What am I doing?” Jeanie repeated, with a hint of annoyance in her voice. She wasn’t sure what Paul meant by the question, but for her there was only one place the question could go.
“I don’t know, Paul. I honestly don’t know. I feel like I’m at the end of my rope, and maybe I am.” Lightning lit up the room again. “You don’t willfully move back into your parents’ house. It’s not something I wanted to do, believe me. But I have no other option.” She finally stopped, feeling like she could ramble on about the inevitable all night, like a dripping faucet that just won’t stop.
Paul merely nodded and sat there in the quiet. What was he supposed to say? Little brothers aren’t supposed to counsel older sisters.
Jeanie sat across the old kitchen table, her face buried in her hands, her heart longing to cry but her mind not allowing it. She wouldn’t stoop to that.
“Sometimes you need a fresh start,” Paul said before he could stop himself. He was the student who was never afraid to speak in class, but usually waited for a worthwhile moment.
“I’m sorry, that sounds kind of trite.” He faltered for a moment. There was something in her face that told him it was his place to be quiet and commiserate. He was also the kind of person who wanted to fix problems, not just listen to them.
“It’s okay. I’m not in a position to reject much of anything.”
The two sat there for a few minutes longer, the thunder echoing and the rain strumming on the window pane.
“I’ll take what grace I can,” Jeanie said.