Things are difficult. My mother has been arguing with a small round man, by the name of Eggfeld, who publishes her books. And as always after these rows, she stays in her room sulking. This happens every time she has a book ready to publish: she gives the finished work to this man Eggfeld, he tells her which parts need to be changed, and she sulks for a week or more.
And we all bear the brunt of her misery.
Eventually, she relents, realizing that Eggfeld is not as stupid as she hoped, and begins to make small changes, eventually becoming obsessed. She locks herself in her room all day until we worry she will starve. After a week or more, she emerges with glowing face and gives the changed text to Eggfeld, who goes away for a day or so and then comes back all smiles, with a bottle of wine for her. She makes a special meal and we all celebrate; Eggfeld merrily tells us stories of his travels in the East, his dealings with writers, and all types of gossip. We all go happily to bed with our heads buzzing, relieved to be done with the whole thing.
For awhile my mother is a changed woman, smiling and helpful and everywhere about the house and town (perhaps too much) for about a month. We all hold our breaths, and try to remain patient with her meddling, as we have come to depend on our freedoms and her inattention, and when she begins to get a look about her eyes - I cannot describe this look, except to say it is not the look of someone listening to what you say - we try not to fidget, while my mother becomes increasingly irritable. One day she goes up to her room, leaving the bread to burn or the laundry to cook dry, and does not come down until dinnertime. At which we all sigh, close our eyes, and thank our Gods, for things are normal once again.
My father laughs and says her Creating is hampered by her leaping and twisting mind, which climbs ideas like ladders and will not be still enough to settle properly into her hands and her movements. We can not all naturally be easy in our bodies, my father says, and he is grateful my mother puts her (very capable) hands to the world at all.
So here we are in the sulking phase, trooping dolefully around and wishing she would make up with Mr. Eggfeld. We miss her beautiful cakes and soups and the wonderful way she doctors the animals. My father, too, misses speaking to her of his work, for she is very perceptive, and can offer him great insight sometimes.
All this, and the Spring Festival preparations have begun. I try to fill my mind with thoughts of my new work, my mother's mood infects me and I move through the days curled around a strange ache. Ennis must be far along the way to Wurzen by now, I think. Later, I think: now he has arrived at the university. I imagine him making new friends, listening to his masters' explanations, watching the some of the best Gear Tourniers in the Greater Lands at work.
I want to be there, with him, learning what he is learning, talking to him about what we are seeing and hearing. I feel left behind, too young, useless. Father says -