Home is Where the Heart is"

Chapter 5 TIME TO TALK

When Carrie and Charles got back home it was afternoon and the whole family was home. Ma was so happy to see Carrie again that she was actually crying!
“Oh Carrie! Thank God you’re ok. I was so worried!”, she said as she hugged Carrie.
“Yeah, we were all worried”, Albert said, “We’ve been looking for you all day”.
James looked happy to see her too. Even though he hadn’t admitted it, he had been very worried about her. And Grace refused to leave her side. She had been heartbroken when she realized Carrie had really left them, and now she was terrified she’d leave again. Even Cassandra seemed relieved that Carrie was ok. Everybody was talking at once, until Pa finally made all the other kids go upstairs, so he and Ma could talk to Carrie alone.

“Ok, Carrie. Now tells us exactly why you ran away. We know you and Cassandra have been fighting a lot lately, but that’s really not an excuse for running away”, Pa said.
“Well…everything is just so horrible now. It doesn’t feel like we’re a real family anymore. You and Ma are always working, and I always have to do all the chores. Cassandra is always off with her friends, and I hardly ever see Albert and James. It feels like the only one I ever spend any time with is Grace, and that’s just cause I always have to baby-sit her. You never make Cassandra do any chores, and she can do whatever she likes without being punished. It doesn’t matter how mean she is to me, you never care! It’s not fair! And I miss Laura and Mary. I want to go home to Walnut Grove! I don’t want to live in Burr Oak. It would be so much easier for everyone if I just left. Can’t I please leave?!” Carrie felt tears running down her cheeks, and tried to wash them away. Seemed like she was always crying these days.
“Oh, Carrie!”, Ma said, “Surely things can’t be all that bad! I’m sorry if you feel that we haven’t been fair to you, but you know we always try to treat all of you the same. We can’t let you leave, you’re part of this family, and we love you”.
“That’s right”, Pa said with a smile. “Things have changed for all of us since we came here, but now is the time we all have to try to work together as a family, to make this work for all of us, ok?”.
“I don’t know”, Carrie said, “I just don’t think I can ever be happy here. And no matter what you said, I don’t think me and Cassandra can ever be friends again…maybe not even sisters. I just want to go home. I haven’t seen Laura in more than a year, and it was even longer since I last saw Mary. THEY are my real sisters, and I want to see them! Why can’t I live with Laura in Walnut Grove instead of here?”
“You’re only 13 Carrie, we can’t let you leave. And even if I’m sure Laura would love to see you, I’m not sure you would be able to live there for good. After all she and Almanzo already have Rose and Jenny to take care of”, Ma said.
Carrie had forgotten about Jenny. She was Almanzo’s niece, and had moved in with him and Laura, and their little girl Rose after her father had died.
“Carrie, why don’t you go upstairs and let your Ma and me talk about all this?” Pa said. “Don’t worry Carrie, we’ll work this all out somehow”.

Carrie slowly walked up the stairs. She felt a little bit better now that Ma and Pa finally seemed to take her seriously. She found all the other kids gathered in the boys’ room. Albert smiled when she walked in.
“Hi Carrie!”, he said, “sit down”.
Carrie took a seat between him and Grace.
“We were all really worried when you ran away, Carrie”, Albert said. “Why did you do it?”
“I just didn’t know what else to do…you were all angry with me, and it felt like I always had to do all the chores. I just wanted to go home to Walnut Grove I guess….” Carrie said quietly.
“We know how you feel Carrie, we all miss Walnut Grove”, James said, “but we have to stick together as a family”.
“No, you don’t know how I feel. You and Cassandra only lived there a short time, I lived there almost all my life. It’s my home. Besides this hasn’t been much of a family lately. All we ever do these days are fight. No one cares anymore, it’s like we’ve all changed to the worse since we moved here”, Carrie said.
“Carrie! That’s not fair”, Albert said, “we all do miss Walnut Grove. Maybe you miss it more than we do, I don’t know, but it was our home too. You know that it was the first real home I ever had. It’s special to me too. I guess we’ll all just have to try a little harder, to make Burr Oak our home. Ok?”.
“I don’t think Burr Oak can ever feel like home, but I’ll try”, Carrie said.
“Ok”, Albert said with a smile. “Just promise me one thing”.
“Don’t ever run away again.”
“Ok, I promise”, Carrie said with a smile.

“Carrie?”, Cassandra whispered. It was late and the girls were lying in their beds. Grace was already asleep. “Are you awake?”.
“Yeah, I’m awake”, Carrie replied.
Cassandra got up, and walked over to Carrie’s bed. She sat down on the chair next to it. Thanks to the full moon outside, the room wasn’t completely dark.
“Did you run away because of me?” Cassandra asked.
“Sort of”, Carrie replied. “I was just angry with the way you were treating me. And the way Ma and Pa were treating me. I just wanted to go home to Walnut Grove”.
“To be with your real sister?”
“I’m sorry about my essay. I really didn’t think it would matter to you. It didn’t feel like you wanted to be my sister, so it didn’t feel like I should write about you in my essay. Besides you didn’t write about Laura and Mary in your essay”, Carrie said.
“That’s different. It’s not that I don’t like Laura and Mary, it’s just that I don’t know them like you do. We’ve never lived in the same house or anything. But I never thought you’d say I wasn’t your sister. You really hurt my feelings”, Cassandra said.
“I’m sorry, but you hurt my feelings too. We were so close when we lived in Walnut Grove, Cassandra. We weren’t just sisters – we were best friends! But now that we live in Burr Oak all you ever want to do is be with your new friends. They’re not even nice!”
“They are to nice! But I’m sorry about the way I treated you. You know, it wasn’t always fun for me in Walnut Grove. Nancy Oleson and her friends would always say mean things to me and call me names because I was an orphan. And now all of sudden girls who are both prettier and richer than Nancy wants to be friends with me. I guess I figured you’d always be my friend no matter what. But I wanted to be friends with Sarah, Jane and Louisa too. I’m sorry about the way I acted sometimes, though. I tried to apologize, but for each day things just got more and more out of hand somehow”.

Carrie looked at Cassandra. She really sounded like she meant what she was saying. Maybe it was time to forgive and forget?
“That’s ok, I know what you mean”, Carrie said. “Look, I don’t know if we’ll ever be best-friends, or even friends again. But lets try to be at least sisters, ok?”
“Deal!” Cassandra said with a big smile.

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