Hudson School – Chapter 2
by SK Figler
(Copyright SK Figler 2020)
The door at the end of the long room closed and Mother was gone. To the bathroom, maybe. The man at the big brown desk didn’t say anything. Jacob, either, but he slid out of the chair they were sharing and ran to the door and went out. He pulled open the big white door to the outside. Henry couldn’t see him anymore. The man stared down the room where Jacob ran. He looked like he wanted to say something but didn’t know what.
Mother’s car went past the three tall windows. The top was down, so Henry could see her staring straight ahead with a cigarette poking out of her mouth. Then Jacob ran past two of the windows and stopped in front of the third one. He turned and looked in at Henry. Henry waved, but Jacob didn’t wave back, just stuck his hands in his pockets.
The man behind the big desk stared at Henry now like he wanted Henry to say or do something, but Henry didn’t know what. The man opened his mouth a couple of more times, but he shut it and turned and looked out the window at Jacob, who was still standing there looking in.
“What’s h-h-happening?” Henry said.
The man leaned forward and put his elbows on his desk and held the sides of his face. The telephone rang. He grabbed it and listened and then mumbled something and listened and said, “Yes, please, right now” and hung up the phone.
Henry couldn’t see Jacob outside anymore, so now Mother and Jacob were gone. Only the man was there. Henry’s heart pounded so loud he thought the man had to hear it. Henry’s face burned and sweat came out and slid down. He wiped it with his sleeves, but more came. He wanted to ask again what was happening, but it got stuck inside. He couldn’t feel anything, the chair under him or his clothes or his hands anymore. Just the sweat.
The man let go of his own face and sat up and said, “Good, good, Jacob. You’re back. Come in, come on in, sit with your little brother. We’ll talk about all this.”
Henry turned and looked at Jacob standing in the doorway of the long room. His hands were still in his pockets.
“You know what’s happening, what just, umm, occurred, don’t you, son? Jacob? Come in. Sit with your brother. Umm, Henry. I’ll try to explain.” Jacob walked slowly toward them, past the tall windows and gold and red drapes and more fancy chairs like Henry was in, but he didn’t sit again. He stood by it and held onto the chair arm. He didn’t look at Henry.
“You do know what’s happening, happened, don’t you, Jacob?” Jacob shrugged. “I mean, you just heard what your mother and I talked about, what she said.” Jacob shrugged again.
“Where’s M-m-mother?” Henry said. “”Where did she go? I want to go home.”
“I’m really shocked that she didn’t explain all this to you boys, her boys. That, I should say, would be her duty. As a mother.”
“She said stuff,” said Jacob.
Henry looked up at Jacob. He didn’t hear her say anything about what was happening.
“Oh, good. I’m relieved. What did she say?”
“She said we would like Hudson School with all the other boys from good families. She said it’s very expensive and we should make the most of our time here. She has to go away for awhile, to Florida, and I should take care of Henry.”
“Good. Very good. Anything else?”
“What’s happening? Where is Mother?” Henry said. “When is she coming back? Can we go home now?”
“No, nothing else,” Jacob said. “She said it driving here from the city. Henry was in the back seat. I don’t think he heard.”
“Heard what? What’s happening?” He slid out of the chair.
Someone knocked on the door. It was a skinny old lady with gray hair and round glasses. The man looked up and stood. “Oh, Miss Cole, thank God you’re here.”