Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Uncles/Aunts (04/17/08)
TITLE: Aunt Matilda Meets Her Namesake
By Laura Anne Harrison
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Bouncing through the door of the attic bedroom, Grandma Wilson tugged at the covers on Tillie’s head. Joy bubbled, as she plucked Tillie’s freckled pixie nose with the index finger of her empty hand and said, “Rise and shine, Tillie! Today’s the day Aunt Matilda is coming to meet her little namesake.”
Tillie’s tiny hand swiftly swiped at Grandma’s finger as she pushed her small frame up onto her elbows and hugged her pillow. Her deep fawn eyes followed Grandma’s swift tidy-up movements around the room, while the “wanting-to-knows” hammered on the wide open door of her little head. “Why am I Aunt Matilda’s namesake?” she asked, as she pulled herself to a sitting position and slid feet-first off the edge of her bed to the floor.
Grandma’s wrinkled hands moved rapidly, as she smoothed the bedspread up over the pillows of the bed. “When you were born, your proud Papa grinned as he held all 4½ pounds of you in the palms of his rough farmer’s hands. He joyfully shouted to everyone within hearing range, ‘She sure is tiny, but she’s as pretty and as loud as her Aunt Matilda!’ In that moment, you were given her name.”
Grandma lifted Tillie’s yellow feed-sack dress and white pinafore apron from the hook next to her bed, assisted her with getting dressed, and picked up the hairbrush from the small oak nightstand. Brushing the long tangled strands of mahogany hair away from Tillie’s sun-kissed face, she gathered and tied it with a bright lemon ribbon on the top of her petite head.
Engrossed in thoughts zigzagging through her mind, Tillie asked, “Grandma, can I have a piece of red ribbon from your sewing basket? I’m fixing a present for Aunt Matilda.”
“Aren’t you the thoughtful one?” Grandma’s hands rested on her pudgy wide hips as she smiled. “Of course you can. Just don’t be too long. Aunt Matilda’s due to arrive any time now.”
Tillie reached for the bar of lavender soap cradled in the washbasin, sniffed it, stuffed it into her apron pocket, and followed Grandma down the creaking staircase to the kitchen. She fetched a piece of the crimson ribbon from the sewing basket that perched on the chair beside the fireplace, picked up the slop bucket, and headed outside.
As the screen door slammed shut, Grandma yelled from the window above the kitchen sink, “Tillie, don’t you go and get dirty!” Pausing briefly, Tillie grabbed the fresh towel from the hook on the porch before galloping, as fast as her running-colt legs would allow, across the dewy green grass to the pigpen. . . . .
Forty-five minutes later, Tillie climbed the steps to the house, pausing only a moment as she spied the shiny Model T Ford sitting beneath the huge oak tree. Hearing boisterous laughter spilling out of the open windows, she entered the house through the screen door that slammed shut behind her.
As deafening quiet descended upon the room, all eyes focused upon the drenched, disheveled Tillie whose tiny arms surrounded the towel-wrapped gift with its crimson bow. Breaking the silent eternity, the tall, beautifully dressed in red velvet Aunt Matilda approached the unkempt child. Lifting Tillie’s dirt-smudged face with an immaculately manicured hand, she smiled. “So, this is my darling little namesake.”
As Tillie timidly returned the smile and lifted her gift, Aunt Matilda gathered the bundle in her arms, pressed her nose against the soft, wet towel, and leaning down close to Tillie’s ear, she whispered, “Is that the sweet scent of lavender?”
Tillie answered softly, “I washed your present in lavender soap water.”
Aunt Matilda peeped beneath the towel and smiled, as a small wiggly piglet lifted his head and licked her face. Sighs of relief replaced horrified gasps at Aunt Matilda’s exuberant, loving response, “Well now. Aren’t you a little dandy? You are the best present I’ve ever received.” . . . and Tillie stood quietly nearby, beaming with pride . . . . .
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