Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Uncles/Aunts (04/17/08)
TITLE: Peepin' Toes
By Patty Wysong
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When she jumped up and waddled to the barn I scooped up the toddlin' tadpole and tagged along. She may waddle from so many babies, but I'm tellin' you, she can move fast when she wants.
Ma waved the letter around her frizzy red hair. “Frank!”
She leaned against the stall door to catch her breath, and Pa skidded to her side, his hands cradling her belly. “Calm down an' tell me what's got ya in a dither.”
Ma mopped her eyes again. “Theodora wrote. Milton's heart finally gave out and he died. Could we invite her out? Do you think she'd come? I've got to go write...”
“Whoa, now.” Pa's hand rasped against his stubbled chin as he sagged beside her. “'Course you need to invite her an' she'll be a help to you, 'specially with that big belly of yourn.”
I let the tadpole slither down my leg and he toddled over to Pa, jabberin' and tugged on his overalls. Pa scooped him up and tossed him in the air just as the hounds started kickin' up a fuss. They were bayin' as if they'd treed a coon, but it was their 'strangers are coming' bark.
I heard singin' over the bayin' and when Ma started laughin' I thought she'd gone crazy. I sure didn't see what was so funny about someone singin' in a screechy voice like that. It made me want to howl with the hounds, but Ma was moppin' her eyes again and waddlin' out the barn door. Since Pa still had the tadpole I beat Ma outside, but she didn't stop there, no-sir-ee, she kept goin' just as fast as she could.
The fanciest lady I ever did see was marchin' beside the wagon ruts, carryin' a carpetbag in each hand. She had coal black hair piled under a hat with ostrich feathers and she looked like she came straight from the pages of Godey's. I watched as she and Ma hugged fiercely, and when the fancy lady pulled a laced hankie from her sleeve there was no doubt who she was. Aunt Theodora.
Pa was mutterin' about whiskers and warnin's, but he scrubbed at dirt on the tadpole's face and started out to meet Aunt Theodora. I dragged my feet, thunderstruck by finally seein' all that Ma had told me about her sister. She had no such reservations though and she hauled me in for a hug that was just as tight as one of Ma's.
“Tessa, I'm so happy to finally meet you.” She stepped back from me, holdin' me at arm's length. “Let me look at you, Darling. Oh, you're every bit as pretty as your mother said.” She pulled me back in for another hug, wrappin' me in her sweet perfume.
Pa had set down the tadpole so he could carry her carpetbags and Aunt Theodora scooped him up, buryin' her face in his soft neck and blowin' raspberries, just like Ma does. The tadpole giggled and grabbed a feather.
I lunged for his fist, but Aunt Theodora just laughed. “It's just a feather, and this hat has too many.”
My mouth must've been hangin' open because she laughed again and reached over and pushed my chin up to close my mouth. Then she leaned close and whispered, “Look at this, Tess.” I looked down and saw her bare toes peepin' out from beneath her fancy skirt hem, wigglin' at me.
I thought I was goin' to bust a gut tryin' to keep from laughin'. “Are you sure you're Aunt Theodora?”
She stood tall and regal. “Oh, yes. I am your Aunt Theodora.” Then she wiggled her toes at me again. “But I'm also your Aunt Teddy.”
Aunt Teddy winked and whispered, “People aren't always what they appear to be.”
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