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TRUST JESUS TODAY
James sat quietly in the back seat as the car bounced over the rough country road. The memory of his father’s funeral was still fresh in his mind. The one lane gravel road was narrow hardly room enough for two cars to pass. It wound like a mountain stream through the countryside. Up ahead was a field of golden daisies. Each year they grew like a carpet spreading out further and further along the road side.
“Mother how long will I have to stay here?” His voice quivered with emotion. “I don’t like it here everybody is mean to me everybody but Grandma.”
“I don’t know son but right now I don’t have any other choice. I have to work and there is no one to care for you.” The tone of her voice said the subject was closed.
Fighting hard to hold back his tears James clutched his suitcase tightly and leaned back against the ragged vinyl of the seat. Soon the old grey weather boarded house came into view. Ethel eased the car up under a huge oak tree and turned off the engine. James set quietly praying that he was dreaming and soon would wake up back in his bed.
“We are here son time to show Grandma and Papa how grown up you are.” She opened the car door and motioned for him to get out. James stepped from the vehicle as a tear escaped down his cheek. With his little ragged suitcase in one hand he held tightly to his mother’s skirt with the other.
“Hi honey,” it was Grandma’s voice; she was sitting on the porch in her rocking chair. “Come here to Grandma everything’s going to be alright.” James dropped his suitcase and ran into her arms as hot tears escaped down his cheeks.
“Now son you need to stop that crying.” His mother’s voice was sharp. “It’s bad enough I have to leave you here for Mama to care for she doesn’t need to deal with your blubbering.”
James was only five when he lost his father and now he felt abandoned by his mother.
Mrs. Cole pulled the little boy up into her lap and he buried his face in her blouse.
“I know you are sad honey losing your Dad and then having to leave home. But don’t you fret Grandma will take care of you.” She hugged him tightly and whispered in his ear, “We might even go wading in the creek before supper.”
“I have to go,” Ethel called over her shoulder. “I have to meet John at the boarding house to see if I can get a room there near the mill. Now you mind Mama son I will see you soon.” It would be a long time before James would see his mother again.
James rested in the safety of his grandmother’s embrace as she rocked him gently. A soft breeze was blowing through the trees. The distant sound of a Whippoorwill rose above the rustling of the leaves. He felt so lonely and alone, nobody wants me he thought as he drifted off to sleep.
There wasn’t money for clothes so James wore hand-me-downs which never fit. There were times he put cardboard in his shoes to cover the holes. The house was over a hundred years old without any form of insulation and the only heat was from two fireplaces and a wood stove in the kitchen.
“Don’t touch that!” The screech came from Keffie she was his uncle’s new wife. “You know better than to bother my stuff.” Stomping across the room she snatched the bowl of fruit off the table.
“I didn’t know it was yours,” replied James, looking longingly at the plump grapes and oranges. He had never eaten either in his short life and he so wanted to sink his teeth into a juicy orange.
“Keffie, if you can’t share with the children leave your stuff in your room.” It was grandma’s voice; she had entered the room with a platter of golden brown fried chicken. “It’s Okay son supper will be ready in a jiffy. You don’t need her fruit.”
James perked up at the sight of fried chicken and grandma’s hot buttermilk biscuits. “Man that smells good can I have a leg this time please?”
“I don’t know son we have a lot of people to feed. We will see after the adults get finished.”
James dropped his head and crawled up on the beat up wooden bench behind the table. “They always get the best pieces,” he mumbled under his breath. “I’ll be lucky to get the neck.” Nobody seems to care if I eat or not. I wish Mama was here.”
“Where do you think you are going?” Mr. Cole had finished his supper and was in the process of having his after supper smoke. “You have to fill the wood box and bring in some water before you go anywhere.”
“I know Papa,” replied James. “I’m just going in the back room for a minute.” The dresser drawer squeaked when he pulled it out. There she was looking up at him with a big smile. He picked up the picture and held it close. “I miss you Mother, I really miss you.”
Several years passed and the visits from his mother grew less and less. He didn’t miss her as much anymore but there was a deep sadness inside him. He didn’t understand it but the feeling was similar to how he felt when his father died.
On his ninth birthday James’ uncle Harold took him hunting; he even let him use the old 22 rifle. Hunting would help fill the emptiness he felt inside for he loved being in the woods. It was quiet and peaceful. From that time forward he went as often as he could and learned to be a very good marksman.
There was one thing he wanted a good hunting dog a beagle to flush out the rabbits and squirrels. Mr. Downs up the road had a good one Molly he loved to hear her bark when she was on a rabbit trail. One day James asked if he would sell Molly.
“Sure," he said, "for the right price.”
When he returned home that day Mr. Cole was out by the barn. The sow had just delivered a gang of piglets. Suddenly James got an idea. “Hey Papa would you let me have one of the little pigs to raise and sell? I promise to take care of it and do extra chores on the farm, please Papa?”
“You’re too busy roaming the woods to raise a pig” he growled as he shuffled off toward the barn.
“I will Papa I promise and I will get up early every morning to feed the rest of the pigs. Can I please? Mr. Downs said he would sell me Molly. I’m sure I could sell the pig for enough to buy her please Papa?”
“All right,” replied Mr. Cole, “you take care of all the pigs and when they are older I’ll let you see if you can sell one.” He mumbled something under his breath as he entered the barn.
James worked faithfully to keep up his regular chores and the extra work he promised to do. The pigs grew and soon they would be old enough to sell. One day on his way back from the spring he heard the pigs squealing. He recognized Mr. Oakley’s old beat up pickup parked behind the barn.
“Hey, what are you doing?” he yelled. He ran as fast as he could down the dirt road arriving just in time to see Mr. Oakley’s truck disappear around the bend. The pig lot was empty.
“Where is my pig Papa” asked James his voice choked with emotion. “Papa did you sell my pig?”
“My pigs I can do what I want with ‘em. I need the money for a new plow.”
“But you said I could sell one to buy Molly. I did what you asked; I took care of all the pigs.”
“Get on in the house boy, you don’t need no dog.” He stuffed the money into his bibed overalls and reached to pick up his shovel, “Just something else for me to feed.”
James could feel the tears welling up, “I will not cry, I will not cry,” he said through clenched teeth. He turned his back and started back up the road, but something happened to him that day. Mentally he started building a wall of protection around his heart, a wall that would keep others out but would eventually become his own prison.
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