Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: TRAVELER (01/28/16)
- TITLE: Gypsy Girl
By PamFord Davis
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Jeers of ignorant men cut deep. In an effort to break northeaster winds, I pull Grandmother’s frayed shawl around my slumping shoulders. Stifling tears, I wedge myself between Pappa and Mother on the driver’s bench of our wagon. I surmise my lot in life. The most I can expect is prearranged marriage.
I’ll never find a home.
Glancing over to my left, I’m taken aback by backs of Pappa’s scarred hands yanking reigns of his team. He is only in his 40’s and yet he has hands of a much older man. Why should I be surprised? Decades of traveling rough terrains have been grueling. With only his bare hands as tools, he has changed broken wagon wheels and cleared away countless fallen trees from roadways.
“Dika, you stay here ta’ watch our wagon. Florika, we’ll go in ta’ mercantile; git’ things ya’ bin’ needin.”
Jumping down, Pappa splashes mud and then proceeds to walk around to help Mother. Encircling her waist with both hands; he gently lowers Mother from her perch before wrapping her up in his arms. On target, he maneuvers his soul mate to the store entrance.
Raucous laughter returns my attention to men I’d rather forget. Bent on confrontation, they stride towards my parents.
“Would ya’ look at the gypsy man? He’s gonna’ tote his bride across the threshold!”
Pappa’s countenance reddens as his jaws tighten. Setting Mother down; he tells her to go inside.
“Go on in, be with ya’ shortly.”
Her eyes speak of turmoil and trepidation as she heeds his instructions.
Should I find the sheriff?
Pappa’s 6’ 2’’ physique wards off blows of a brute. Pride in Pappa’s bravery banishes my fears of impending disaster. Extending open right palm, he plants his hand firmly on the man’s chest, pushing him backward.
“You men go abouts yer’ bisness’ and I’ll be gittin outa’ yer’ way. We be movin’ on.”
Running his fingers through tousled hair, Pappa readies himself for reunion with Mother.
Pivoting, his aggressor purposely avoids eye contact with friends.
“First round of drinks is on me!”
“What er’ we waitin’ fer,’?” said a bloke at his side.
Meandering down to a saloon, they shove through swinging doors and disappear from my view.
The wagon sways and I hear faint sounds of movement behind me.
Grandmother, I forgot about her napping.
“Dika, I heard all the ruckus. Not easy for you I know and at betrothal age in a band of traveling gypsies. I was young once… I remember how I hated gypsy ways.”
How does she know?
“Yes, Grandmother. I’m fine. Pappa scared off the group of bad men.”
“Going to embroider while we wait; maybe I can sell bandannas and scarves in the next town. We’re not all pick-pockets and thieves; I barter and sell!”
The pit in my stomach deepens. It is nearly noon and we have not eaten since sundown of the previous day. Happy to see Mother and Pappa toting crates and bushell-baskets, I join them.
“Git' in the back daughter. Help yer’ grandmother make room fer’ the goods. You kin’ stay there till’ I find us a place to make camp. I wants ta’ git’ as fer’ away from here, fast as I kin!”
Jostling from side-to-side for a great distance, I heave a sigh of relief when hearing, “Whoa!” The aroma of apples beckons as I sneak a peek outside. Pappa has chosen a secluded apple orchard overlooking a valley for our temporary place to stay.
“Oh Pappa, apples!”
“Ya’ eats only what’s on the ground! Not gonna’ be stealin’ no apples!”
We enjoy a leisurely afternoon and evening; though autumn winds are brisk, I find comforting warmth by the campfire. I am so unhappy but I do not want to burden my family. They are proud of our Romanian heritage; Pappa, calling himself Barron Eladon, frequently tells tales of his royal line. I doubt its authenticity but never let on…
“Dika, wake up!”
Startled by my father’s whisper, I crack my eyes and peer into shadows.
Are we in danger?
“Come, girl; foller’ me!”
Wrapping robe around my trembling body, I obey.
In haste, he moves me outside our wagon into predawn darkness. Grasping my hand, he leads me aside to edge of the orchard. With quivering voice, Pappa commands.
“Run girl! Thirs’ a farmhouse down the hill. Saw a Ma’, Pa’ and young-ins; they’ll take ya’ in. Go!”
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