Friday, October 23, 2015


verb, transitive. To cause someone to believe something that is not true, typically in order to gain a personal advantage. As "deceive oneself," to fail to admit to oneself that something is true. To be sexually unfaithful to one's regular partner.
verb, intransitive. As "be deceived," to give a mistaken impression.

She gazed outside at the unrelieved gloom of a rainy winter afternoon and tried not to wonder how she would manage to get through the rest of the day and the evening. She had nearly finished her schoolwork. She could only stretch it so far. Faintly, she could hear the murmur of voices from the lower floor of the house as her parents and her brothers engaged in their ceaseless wrangling.

The fact that all of them still left her alone to study was a marvel. She could only guess at their motives. She was certain that they were founded upon greed. Ignorant themselves, they probably expected her to continue to further her education, then return to this house and take up a teaching position in the local school. That would ensure that the family could count on the steady income she would bring in, no matter how badly the fortunes of the rest of the family went, or the state of their farm.

She had kept silent about her ambitions. She had doggedly worked at her academic subjects, day in and day out, even during breaks and summer vacations, to keep alive the fiction of her intention to become a teacher. They would never guess her true intention, she thought. There were only a few more months to go.

Like clockwork, the sounds of a struggle rose from downstairs. She could hear the thud of a falling body, then the sound of a fist contacting a meaty abdomen. Cries rose and mounted.

Her eyes closed, and she wished her ears could, too. For the thousandth time, she hoped that she had deceived them so well that they would let her go to college the next autumn without argument. She had to maintain her act until then--long enough to get away from this lousy excuse for a family and find a different way of life. She did not plan to return to this farm, ever.

The sound level from below grew louder. It was only a matter of time before one of them would call her name and summon her to mediate--the family peacemaker. She was weary of the role. She thought briefly of Mary, the friend she had made some six years before, who had invited her to spend a few nights with her family. That was where she had learned what a wonderful thing a family could be--not like her own. That was when she had hatched her plan of escape. Mary had suggested that, with more learning, she could grow up to be something more than a drudge trapped by her family's own ill fortunes.

She fought the tears that rose to her eyes. Why had Mary's family had to move away? She missed her so. Her gaze fell to the history book open before her, but she had not had time to resume reading when she heard her mother call her name.

Definitions adapted from The New Oxford American Dictionary, Oxford University Press, Inc., 2005 (eBook Edition, copyright 2008), and from Webster's Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam Company, Publishers, Springfield, Massachusetts, USA, 1965, depending on which is more convenient to hand.

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