Trying to climb up onto the wrought iron bed, five year old Marci lifts her right leg first. Using all her might, she clenches the patchwork quilt extra tight and finishes her climb. The metal springs squeak with each twist and turn of her frail body.
The eerie sound and the unfamiliar room makes her homesick but she knows she will never be going back home. Never lasts forever. Her tummy hurts and brings back memories of last year’s state fair. Mommy let her take that extra merry-go-round ride, and she barfed.
Mommy, why did you go?
The house is too quiet. When she lived with Mommy, the television was always on. It is so different here. Gran-ma only turns the TV on for news.
Mommy, where are you?
The sound of Gran-ma shuffling her feet down the upstairs hallway echoes through the old farmhouse. Marci swallows tears and peers through her opened door.
“Marci honey, you’s in bed?”
The scent of supper’s fried pork chops lingers on Gran-ma as she approaches the bed.
“Now chile,’ I wants ya’ to gets a good night’s rest. I know’s you’s had a long hard day gittin’ here from the city. I feels a chill in this ole’ house, thinkin’ we’ll be gittin’ us a cold winter. Let’s me throw an extra cover on yer’ bed.”
“When’s my daddy comin’ to see me?”
Grandmother eases down her 5 ft frame and 150 pounds of weight onto the edge of the bed. Tucking covers around Marci, she tousles her grandchild’s curly black hair, searching for right words.
“Now girl, don’t reckon I kin' say. Ya’ Papa, he’s a busy man drivin’ dose hog trucks day n’ night down da’ road.”
“Missy Marci, dat’s nuff talkin’! Ya’ close dem’ sleepy eyes and goes ta’ sleep, ya’ hear?”
Gran-ma turns on a dim table lamp next to Marci, walks back to the door, and closes it behind her, trying to shut out returning feelings of resentment towards her daughter-in-law.
“I jus’ don’ts understand it Lawd. How kin’ a mama walks away from her lil’ girl? Oh, dear Lawd, I needs an extra helpin’ of yer forgiveness tawds dat gal.
Marci woke at the crack of dawn with sounds of bacon crackling in the skillet and her new guardian singing. “I’s got’s peace like a river”…
Hungry, but skittish, the girl puts on the chenille robe left across the foot-board and begins to make her way to the welcoming kitchen.
Gran-ma, seeing her standing in the doorway, smiles from ear-to-ear.
“Land sakes chile,’ we got’s to git movin! It’s the Lawd’s Day an’ we got ta’ get ready for chuch. Sit ya ‘self down and eat these eggs, biskits and sausage. Ya’ need some of Gran’s cookin’ ta’ git some meat on dem’ dare bones!”
Marci needs no coaxing; she has never tasted such delicious food. Breakfast at home consisted of Pop tarts and water from the tap.
“Good for you, little gal; ya’ cleaned ya’ plate! I got’s a nice sa’prise for ya’ in ya’ room. It’s all on da’ bed. I’s neva’ had a little girl before, just ya’s Papa. I sure does hopes the dress n’ shoes fit ya.”
So stuffed, she nearly waddles, Marci goes to her bedroom. Rays of sunshine are warming the earlier dank room. At the foot of her tidy bed, she sees neatly arranged underwear, socks and a colorful dress. Directly below, on the waxed floor she spies shiny patent leather black shoes.
The ringing of the hallway phone causes her to jump.
“Willam, I’s benn’ waitin’ fer’ ya’ ta’ call.”
Marci hears sadness in the voice of her usually happy grandmother.
“The chiles’ a grievin’ for her mama, n’ askin’ bout you.”
Following a brief silence, the voice of Gran-ma begins again.
“I’s knew Marsha was too young; too many chiles’ a’ havin’ chiles ta’ day!”
The farmhouse is so quiet Marci hears chickens from outside.
“Where’d ya’ say they found dat’ Marsha?”
They found Mommy!
“Thank da’ good Lawd! Too bad she’s got’s dat’ sickness, but if’n she’s in the hospital she kin’ be gittin’ the help she’s been a needin’ fer’ a long time.”
Marci’s heart pounds extra fast beneath her flannel nightgown and robe from Gran-ma.
“Chile, come’s talk to yer’ Papa. He’s a missin’ his baby girl!”
“Papa, when ya’ comin’? Is Momma sick?”
He’ll be coming soon. Her Mommy cannot. Missy Marci is prayin’ extra hard.
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