“You watch out for your sister now, Ben!”
“And don’t forget the flour. Five pounds.”
“Yes, ma’am. Can we go now?” Ben chafed at the delay. He was anxious to get to town to see his friends. “Come on, Sukie! I don’t have all day to wait on you!”
“I’m coming, Benny,” his older sister said sweetly. Though she was fifteen, she still had the mind of a five year old. She adored her little brother and generally did her best to please him in her own limited way. Ben, to his credit, was usually patient and kind to his gentle sibling, but being a genuine baseball fanatic, he frequently wished he had more time to play ball with his friends, without the burden of looking after his sister.
As soon as his mother gave the “go-ahead” nod, he was out the door. The morning air was still cool and fresh, but warming quickly on this balmy summer day. Ballglove in hand and a baseball in his pocket, Ben walked quickly down their dirt road, occasionally breaking into a trot, much too intent on getting to town to notice the beauty of the morning.
Sukie, on the other hand, seemed to be savoring every moment of the walk. Whenever Ben pulled ahead of her, she skipped enthusiastically until she caught up. And all the while, singing in her clear, pure voice....
“There is a flower growing, it curtseys in the rain,
It stands up in the sunshine, to stretch and smile again.
The melody of song-birds is music that enchants,
As flowers pirouette and bow in nature’s graceful dance.”
Ben had become an expert at tuning her out, but Sukie didn’t mind. She tagged along meekly as he met up with his best buddy Jim, then followed the boys into the small grocery store to buy the flour.
When they came out of the store, several of Ben’s schoolmates were waiting for him. They were trying to get together a couple of teams to play a game of baseball at the recreation center that evening. So, the whole gang began making the rounds all over town, talking up the game, stopping here and there to play catch, with Sukie never far behind, happy just to watch, singing softly to herself.
The morning hours passed quickly and all too soon it was time for lunch. As Ben and Jim finished up their game of catch, the sky turned loose a few fat heavy drops of rain, which soon became a light shower. Jim waved goodbye and Ben motioned to Sukie to follow him. They began to run for home as the shower turned into a drenching downpour.
Running alongside his sister, Ben’s irritation grew, for all the way home she was singing at the top of her lungs....
“The flower is a-blooming, it waits upon the wall...”
Over and over she sang the same verse, sometimes getting in Ben’s face and tugging on his arm. Finally, the house in sight, he ran ahead and left her to make her way alone.
Momma was sitting on the front porch, enclosed by the curtains of rain. Ben went to the other end of the porch and shook himself like a wet dog. Dripping happily up the porch steps, Sukie went to kneel in front of her mother, obviously eager to tell her something.
Momma began wringing the water out of Sukie’s hair. “What is it, Sukie?”
“Just one minute, Sukie.” Momma turned to Ben with one eyebrow raised. “Ben, where’s the flour I sent you to get?”
Ben’s eyes grew big, and he stared blankly at his mother. Sukie took the opportunity to begin her song again. Ben’s eyes flitted to and fro as he strained to remember. Finally, he hung his head in shame. “I guess I left it in town somewhere, Momma. I’m sorry.”
Sukie gently turned her mother’s face toward her own and tried one more time....
“The flower is a-blooming, it waits upon the wall,
The wind doth shake the darling, to make the petals fall.
A gentle shower quickens, becomes a tempest fierce.
Destroying our sweet flower with soaking, drenching tears.”
Understanding came at last, and Momma smiled. “Thank you, Sukie.
“Ben, after lunch you can go get me some more flour. The other bag got ruined in the rain because you left it sitting on a wall somewhere.”
Ben looked up. “I did?.... I did! But how did you…?”
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