Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Adulthood (07/30/09)
- TITLE: For Never Young
By Ada Nett
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Sadie’s Pa didn’t care ‘bout nobody but his own self. Mostly that was why mama was in an early grave and why eleven year old Sadie had never had a childhood. Pa was here today but he was drinking again and Sadie knew he would be gone in the morning. Once he got started drinking he’d stumble off and be gone for weeks.
Standing across the grave from Sadie was Jeb. He was nine. He was trying hard not to cry. Jeb had helped Sadie bring the little ones up the hillside for mama’s burying. Sadie didn‘t know where Pa had got the box.. It really wasn’t even a coffin. She didn’t know what had come in it but it was big enough for mama’s body and Sadie’d used lye soap and scrubbed it real clean. She lined it with the quilt off mama’s bed before she let Pa lay mama in there. Pa nailed the top shut then he had the mule drag the box up the hill. Pa made Jeb and his brother Ezra who was seven help him dig the grave. Jeb said Pa mostly just set under the tree with a jug while he and Ezra dug the hole to bury mama in.
Five year old Lyddie was sobbing. She clung to Sadie’s skirt and would not let go. Jeb and Ezra took shovels and begin to throw dirt on the box. Pa stumbled over like he was going to help . Next thing they knew Pa’d tripped and fell right in the grave on the top of mama’s box. He began cussing and swearing at mama like she’d been the one to push him in there. Mama couldn’t ever do anything right, he said, even after she was dead.
Sadie backed away from the grave. She still had Maggie balanced on her hip and Lyddie clinging to her skirt tail. With her free hand she took three year old Matthew by the hand and began walking back down the hill. She was worried about Matthew. He had sat himself down under a tree at mama’s grave and had not moved or said a word. Truth was Sadie had not heard him say anything since mama had died. He had a lost look in his eyes that frightened Sadie.
Maggie fell asleep on Sadie’s should as they walked the path back down to the little cabin they called home. Lyddie’s sobs had quieted into hiccups by the time Sadie stepped in the door of their house. Matthew let go of her hand and went and sat in a dark corner. Sadie laid little Maggie down on the pallet on the floor beside the bed that had been mama’s. She turned and reached down and picked up Lyddie and went and sat in mama’s rocker. The setting sun cast a shadow on the wall as Sadie rocked Lyddie to sleep. She couldn’t hear a sound from Matthew but she knew he was still just sitting there in the corner.
Sadie woke up to the sound of shouting in the yard. Pa was yelling for Jeb to put the mule in the barn. Ezra came in and shut the door. It was almost dark in the cabin and it was starting to get cold. Ezra had a handful of sticks and he laid them in the fireplace. Jeb came in and shut the door behind him. Sadie looked at him with a question in her eyes. “Pa left,” Jeb said. Sadie felt relieved.
Late that night while everyone was sleeping, Sadie slipped from the cabin and made her way back up the hill to mama’s grave. As she sat on the cold ground she felt tears welling up. She blinked real hard and shoved them back down inside her heart. It wasn’t the years in Sadie’s life that grew her up before she was a child. It was the life in her years. Sadie sat beside mama’s grave till dawn began to break. Wearily she stood back up and trudged down the hill she had a family to take care of.…
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