Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Mothers (05/02/05)
“Ah, maw,” he kicked the edge of the old oaken table, pieces of manure and mud fell from his shoes. “I gotta go clean over to Rachael Smiths before dinner. Cain’t Lucy do them chickens.”
“I swan David,” she wiped her hands on her apron, “ask you to do two things around the house and you act like I’m cuttin’ into your bank account.”
David swallowed the last of the carton contents and threw the container toward a waiting trash bin. A trail of milk remnants sailed with the box but instead landed on the swept linoleum. “I jes wanna get my homework done for a change, and Rachel says she can help me, canna I go Ma?”
“Be back before dark?”
“Promise, hope to die.”
“Git go’in, and if that storm comes up you come right home, hear. I’ll get them eggs, cause we don’t want that snake in the hen house again, but you git home fore them folks eat, cause I don’t want Smiths thinkn’ we cain’t feed our own.” She dropped down on one knee and began wiping the milk droplets from the floor with her apron.
“Okay maw, storm comes up I’m outa there, but no matter what I be home before dark.”
She pulled herself up to the table with one hand. “Long as yer goin’ drop this letter off in da mail box.”
“Sure thang, I’m outa here.” He grabbed the letter from her outstretched fingers and in one movement left the table and pushed open the screen door. Yard chickens scattered with his hurried approach.
Mercy Hoggins stood at the screen and watched her only son and only male in her life hop into his waiting jeep. The letter, stuck in his pocket, popped out when he sat down.
The big engine roared and David Hoggins flew out her yard and headed for the gravel road that connected her farm with the rest of the world.
As soon as the dust settled, Mercy, walked out to the yard and picked up the letter. “Guess that mailman won’t pick it up here.” Ten minutes later she returned from the mailbox and with one hand on a knee pushed herself up onto the porch and onto a waiting chair. “Oh, Lord, yeve given me a mantel.” She looked at the approaching dark clouds. “And, Lord bring that boy home if it gits to blow’n.” The chicken house loomed another fifty steps up the hill, Mercy looked at the weather vane blowing straight out, “Guess I better move. Lucy, close the windows whilest I git them eggs.” Mercy called into the house hoping her voice would be heard over the local television station’s cartoon show.
Mercy’s return from the hen house was hastened by following rain. Once inside the house she busied herself closing windows and doors. The television station suddenly beeped a storm warning. “Oh, precious Lord, do help us.” Her prayer was quickly said as she watched the crawl across the bottom of the screen. “We gotta get to the cellar,” she rushed around the room picking up the transistor radio and a blanket. “Lucy, look out the door and see if you see David coming.”
The rain pelted Mercy and her daughter as they rounded the corner of the house. With all of her might she pulled the heavy cellar door open against the wind. “Get in there Lucy.” She couldn’t budge the door to re-close it so she and her daughter felt their way to the bowels of the cave like cellar. “Don’t ya mind them slugs, they just as skired as we are. Lord, where is David?” She looked at the roof of the cellar. Enough late afternoon light still filtered in to give the room an eerie blue haze.
Suddenly the cellar door slammed shut and a six foot young man tumbled into the shelter. “David,” she screamed while grabbing him around the neck and shoulders.”
“Ah, maw, I told you I’d be back.”
“Thank you Jesus.”
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