Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Good and Bad (05/07/09)
TITLE: South to Aunt Marta
By Dee Yoder
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“If you’re alright then, Ms. Touby, I’ll go on now,” he said.
My Mom only nodded. She watched the sheriff put on his hat. He seemed embarrassed. He seemed almost mad. “I’m real sorry, Ma’am. It sure is a crying shame.” He got in his car, and the dry summer dirt blew up like smoke behind his tires as he drove away.
“Mom?” I asked in a whisper. She turned her face to me and looked at me like she didn’t even know me. That was the start of the weird world I lived in after that day. Nothing seemed the same. I thought even my house was different. It seemed like it got bigger and emptier and scarier at night.
A week later, I heard Mom calling me to come in from playing. When I came to the house, Mom was standing in the doorway with the light from the kitchen erasing all the details of her, but her silhouette.
“Scottie, you’re growing so big. You’re nearly to my chest now.” She smiled and took me inside.
“Sit down there and eat some supper, Young Man.”
I saw the soup was chicken noodle, my favorite, and I grabbed a handful of crackers to throw in the bowl. Mom brought over a pitcher of Kool-Aid. It was green, too. This was a treat. She usually never poured me anything but white milk for supper. She sat across from me and dipped her spoon slowly into the chicken soup.
“Scottie, I talked to your Daddy’s sister, Marta. Do you remember her? We visited her a couple of years ago when we took our vacation to Carter Caves.” She looked at me and waited for me to think about her question.
“Not really.” I answered slowly.
“Remember? She has a big house on the corner? It has red shutters and a huge front porch?”
“The lady with the Rambler?” I asked.
She nodded. “Yes, that’s Marta. Did you like her?” she asked quietly.
“She was Ok, I guess,” I shrugged.
“Look, Scottie.” Mom put down her spoon. “I don’t think we can live here anymore. I need to get a job, and I can’t leave you with just anybody. Marta called last night and asked if we’d come live at her house.”
She looked me in the eyes. “If we don’t like it, we don’t have to stay. But Marta is really a very nice lady.”
I swallowed my soup. When I looked back up at Mom, she had tears on her eyelashes. She sighed.
“I wish things weren’t like this, Scottie. I wish we could have our old life back, but we can’t change what happened. Daddy loved Aunt Marta an awful lot. He used to tell me how she took care of him when he was little. I think she could really help us go on with things, Son.”
I nodded. She reached out and smoothed my hair back on my forehead. Her hand was soft and smelled like Jergen’s lotion.
“It’s Ok, Mom.”
After Mom tucked me in, I lay in bed and looked at the ceiling. The moonlight was blue-cold and somehow threatening. I got out of bed and ran to the window. I pulled down the plastic shade and even pushed it flat against the frame so not even a sliver of light shone in.
I hurried back to bed and threw myself under the sheet. I decided I could cry just a little bit but I tried to be quiet because I didn’t want Mom to hear me. I knew she felt bad. I didn’t want her to feel any worse.
The tears clogged my nose, so I finally made myself stop and flipped my pillow over to the cool side and went to sleep. I dreamed about Daddy. It wasn’t sad at all.
The next day, Mom drove us to the A & P and asked the manager for his empty boxes. We loaded them into the station wagon and drove on back home.
It took two weeks to pack up everything we were taking, and a couple of more days to clean the house. Finally, we got on the road and headed south to Marta. Maybe, something good was just ahead.
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