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The Jacksons

Jennifer Jackson shuffled into the kitchen early on Sunday morning, casting a bleary eye at her parents Andrew and Rose who sat at the dining table, each with a cup of coffee and a section of the newspaper in front of them. She opened the cupboard, took out a mug and poured herself a cup of the no-longer-fresh beverage, then shuffled over to the table where she sat down and placed the coffee cup on the table in front of her, and then she heaved a heavy and pointed sigh.

Andrew raised an eyebrow and Rose glanced up momentarily from her newspaper but neither of them took the bait.

Jennifer sighed again. “I’m depressed,” she announced.

Andrew folded his paper and leaned back in his chair. “So it would appear,” he said.

Rose went on reading.

Andrew took a sip of his coffee. “Depression,” he said, “is caused by an incompatibility in the way you believe things should be and the way they actually are.”

Jennifer stared at the table. “That makes me feel sooo much better,” she said.

“I like to give an encouraging word whenever it seems called for,” he said. “It’s the least I can do.”

Rose looked up at her husband. “And you always try to do the least you can don’t you dear?” she said.

“That goes without saying,” said Andrew, then turned his attention back to Jennifer. “Seriously sweetie,” he said, “what is it about the way things are that doesn’t jive with the way you think they should be?” He paused. “I’m guessing this has something to do with Antonio,” he added.

“His name is Fernando,” said Jennifer, “as I have told you a hundred times.” She heaved another sigh. “Not that it matters now,” she said. “You might as well call him Guillermo Jones. Two weeks from now no matter what you call him, he won’t answer, because he’ll be back in Argentina. And I’ll probably never see him again.”

“Ah, yes,” said Andrew. “Well, we knew this day was coming didn’t we?”

“We knew it was coming,” said Jennifer, “but we were living in denial.”

Andrew looked over at Rose. “You see?” he said. “I told you they were very mature for their age. They’re handling it just like grownups!”

“But then yesterday Fernando got his airline ticket in the mail,” said Jennifer. “Apparently my denial isn’t strong enough to deal with that.”

“I really feel bad for you,” said Andrew. “But don’t worry. By the time you’re my age, it will be.”

“Thank you for being so sympathetic,” said Jennifer. “But anyway, I’ve decided my only option is to use my education savings plan money to go visit him in Argentina in August.”

There was a brief pause.

“Atta girl,” said Andrew. “When denial no longer works, you can always replace it with ungrounded, hopeless, impossible plans for the future.”

“On the other hand,” said Rose, “a trip to Argentina would certainly be educational. You can’t argue that.”

Andrew looked at her, askance. “Did you really just say that?” he said.

“Yes I did,” said Rose.

Andrew crossed his arms. “Geez,” he said. “Don’t go getting her hopes up. We are not sending our teenage daughter to some foreign country to visit a boyfriend she’s only had for six months and we’ve barely even met.”

“I could bring him over for lunch,” said Jennifer.

“That’s not the point,” said Andrew.

“Of course we wouldn’t send her to Argentina,” said Rose. “But who’s to say we couldn’t take her?”

Andrew opened his mouth, then closed it, then opened it again. “We can’t go away in August,” he said. “Brady’s getting married. And we have to harvest. Maybe. If it ever stops raining.”

“Of course we wouldn’t go in August,” said Rose. “That would be silly. We’ll go in January. January is summertime in Argentina, isn’t it Jennifer? Much warmer than here, right.”

“Everywhere is warmer than here in January,” said Andrew, getting up and putting his empty coffee cup in the sink. “That doesn’t mean we’re going there. And I have work to do, so we can continue this conversation when I finish which should be in about…” he paused to look at his watch… “15 years.”

Jennifer waited till the door closed behind her father before she turned her suddenly bright eyes towards her mother. “Could we?” she said.

“If we wanted to,” said Rose with a smile. “You know that man could never say no to us. But we don’t know yet if we want to.”

“We don’t? When will we?” asked Jennifer.

“When Pedro’s been gone for a few months,” said Rose. “Then we’ll know. And one other thing, in the interests of your future happiness…” and here she paused.

“What?” said Jennifer.

“Don’t get your hopes up,” said Rose.

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