Mother is a master of indecision, easy distracted and forgetful, not a recent development. Many years ago, she loaded her little kids, purse, packages, and God only knows what else into the backseat of her car. Eventually, thinking for sure she was ready,she gave the back car door a shove, suddenly remembering one last thing she should have done, she leaned forward to reach into back seat without stopping the door. It slammed, trapping her nose between the door and the car body. She screamed and blood from poured from her nose as she struggled with the door handle. I don’t believe I’ve heard of a similar accident.
Anya had no idea of the horror behind Joe’s outburst as he tore into the cabin, though she knew plenty about the moods of men, none of it good. She covered her head and cowered on the far side of the bed, expecting a beating or rape, the way men had most often dealt with her. His previous kindnesses were forgotten in her shock.
“What’s going on here? Who the Hell are you and how did you get here? I thought you were my wife! Who are these kids?” He crossed the room shaking her by the shoulders as she waited for the blows to rain down. “
Despite her confusion, with him shouting directly into her face, there was no mistaking, “I THOUGHT YOU WERE MY WIFE!”
He was insane! Bracing for what was sure to come next, she covered her head with her good arm. God help me! Distraught and overwrought he fled the cabin, slamming the door before the boy could get out behind him.
The boy wailed and tore at the door. The baby cried and clung to her. The shock of the man’s outburst cleared her confusion a bit. She rushed to the door, and slid the wooden bar to lock the man out. At least that would give her a moment to think. She’d hoped to have a few more days to rest. In her clouded mind, the baby girl had become the little sister she’d so loved. She to figure a way to get herself and the girl away. The man might burn them in their beds tonight, but if they survived, she’d have to figure out a way to get them out of here in the morning.
Reblogged Janice Spina via Smogasbard
She awoke to a murderous headache and a deafening roar in her ear, the warmth of the flickering fire beckoning her. Pulling herself to her feet by clinging to a table leg, she made her way toward it. As she turned to warm her backside, she caught sight of the baby girl on the bed. From deep in her battered brain, love for her baby sister nudged her. Drawn to the bedside, she studied the baby, hardly cognizant of the other child. Dropping to the edge of the bed, she tenderly touched the child’s burning cheek and tried to gather her to her bosom. Unaware of the man who’d entered the room, her last thought was of her lost baby sister as she slid back into the darkness, barely aware of being ministered to.
She held little memory of the next few days, though her headache dulled and the roaring in her ear became less demanding. When she could stay awake, she focused on the baby, a blue-eyed blonde, so much like her sister. A small boy trailed the man constantly. Thinking still made her head ache, especially when she had the nightmare about a pistol and a man. The Dream always slipped away like dark silk as shuddered awake, but left her in a cold sweat. In her dream, she was always trying to get away.
The man was busy but quiet. He and the boy were rarely in the house, except to bring in milk, do chores, and eat. He did nothing to threaten or disturb her, but she wanted nothing to do with him or any other man. Had she been able to think more clearly, she’d have wondered about the mother of the children, but that was too onerous a task for her addled brain.
Repost of ne of my favorites. Original art by Kathleen Swain.
When I was a kid, we often went places normal people would never intentionally go. Periodically, Daddy would realize he hadn’t spent any time around social misfits and needed a fix, bad! One day he announced he’d had heard of somebody who lived back in the woods about four miles off Tobacco Road who had a thingamajig he just had to have. Never mind, all five kids needed new shoes and the lights were due to be cut off. He NEEDED that thingamajig!
He HAD to check it out, driving forever down rutted roads that looked like they might disappear into nothing. Finally we got back to Mr. Tucker’s shack. Mr. Tucker was wearing overalls and nothing else. Apparently buttoning overalls wasted valuable time needed forpile junk collecting. While Daddy and Mr. Tucker disappeared into the tangle of weeds and mess of old cars, car tires, trash, broken washing machines and other refuse scattered around the house and into the woods. Mother sweltered in the car with the five of us while Daddy and Mr. Tucker rambled.
It was hot. It got hotter the longer we waited in the punishing July heat. We opened the car doors, hoping to catch a breeze as it got hotter and hotter. The baby and the two-year-old were squalling out their misery as Mother fanned them. Daddy wasn’t known for the consideration he showed his family. He was “the man.”
Mrs. Tucker, a big woman in overalls came out in the front yard and started a fire, never even looking our way. She probably thought our car was just another old clunker in their yard. It got even hotter. We were all begging for a drink of water. Daddy was still gone, admiring Mr. Tucker’s junk collection. Daddy could talk for hours, unconcerned that his family was sweltering in the car. He thought misery was character-building. It didn’t matter that he didn’t know the people he’d just stumbled up on. We spent many an hour waiting in the car while he “talked” usually having stopped off on the way to visit some of his relatives.
Finally, in desperation, Mother got out of the car, introduced herself to Mrs. Tucker, and asked if we could have a drink of water. Mrs, Tucker turned without speaking, went into the house, came back out with some cloudy snuff glasses, called us over to the well, drew a bucket of water, and let us drink till we were satisfied. That was the best water I ever had. Mrs. Tucker pulled a couple of chairs under a shade tree and Mother sat down. We all sat down in the dirt in the cool of the shade and played. Daddy was still prowling around in search of junk, but things looked a lot better after we cooled off and had a drink. Mrs. Tucker was interesting to look at, but didn’t have a lot to say. She had a couple of teeth missing, had greasy red hair that was chopped off straight around, and long scratches down both arms.
Mother tried to talk to her, but Mrs. Tucker wasn’t a great conversationalist. I suspect she didn’t know too many words. I couldn’t take my eyes off the missing teeth and long scratches down her arm. Despite Mother’s attempts to quell my questions, I found out a lot about her. She didn’t have any kids. It didn’t take long to figure out she “wasn’t right.” I was fascinated and wanted to ask about what happened to her teeth, but knew that would get me in trouble, so I asked how she scratched her arms. Mother told me to hush, but fortunately, Mrs. Tucker explained. It seemed she was going to put a rooster in the big pot in the front yard to scald him before plucking him. He’d scratched her and gotten away before she could get the lid on. Apparently she didn’t know she was supposed to kill him first. Just at the point where things were getting interesting, Daddy came back and I didn’t get to hear the rest of the story.
Mrs. Tucker gave us a turkey that day, teaching me a valuable lesson. Don’t ever accept the gift of a turkey. Ol’ Tom was going to be the guest of honor at our Thanksgiving Dinner. Daddy put him in the chicken yard and Tom took over, whipping the roosters, terrorizing the hens, and jumping on any kid sent to feed him and the chickens. We hated him. Mother had to take a stick to threaten him off when she went out to the chicken yard. He even flew over the fence and chased us as we played in the back yard till Daddy clipped his wings.
Before too long, we saw the Nickerson kids, the meanest kids in the neighborhood, headed for the chicken yard. Mother couldn’t wait to see Tom get them. Sure enough, Ol’ Devil Tom jumped out from behind a shed on jumped on the biggest boy, Clarence. Clarence yelped and ran. The other boys were right behind him, swatting at the turkey. Unlike us, they didn’t run out with their tails tucked between their legs. They launched an all-out attack on Tom, beating him with their jackets, sticks, and whatever they could grab. They chased him until they were tired of the game. Tom never chased any of us again, but Mother never got around to thanking the Nickersons.
Fatigued almost beyond bearing, Anya’s head felt as though it would burst. Her jaw ached and blood drained from her left ear. Her stepmother, Bessie had deafened her right years ago, but now she’d developed a deafening roar in her left. Barely conscious, she struggled to maintain her death grip on the cow’s halter and half-walked and was half-dragged the final half-mile to the barn. Though she couldn’t hear it, the farm dog barked at her staggering approach, but for some reason didn’t offer to bite as she struggled to the barnyard. Instinct alone guided her into the barn where she collapsed on the haystack. Old Bossie followed her in and was grateful of the opportunity to get her feed early. Hay drifted over Anya as she slept, keeping the secret of her presence, though in her decreasing consciousness, she had no concern for anything. Unaware of anything except pain and fatigue, she slept late into the next day.
Anya’s mind was foggy when she awoke, only aware of pain, hunger and thirst. The beating she’d taken left her deaf and confused. She did vaguely remember trying to fire the pistol, but nothing after that. Her raging thirst drove her from the barn. With the pain in her jaw, eating would not have been an option. She made her way toward the cabin, seeking water.
Had anyone been there to see her, she’d have been a horrifying specter as she fell against the door. Wakening to find Jack licking the blood from her ear, she managed to hang onto the wall and table till she got to the water bucket. Slaking her thirst, she dropped painfully to the cabin floor, unaware she was in the world.
For the first time in weeks, Anya slept deeply under the willows without fear of her captor. In the fickle manner of West Texas, as the temperate day drew to a close, a cold wind swept in clouds from the North. She roused shivering as the rain peppered her with sleet. Knowing she’d die if she just lay there, she managed to rake a bed of leaves and burrowed in, somehow surviving the bitter night. At first light, she emerged, battered but choosing life. The day warmed as though there had been no icy storm in the night.
Despite the beating she’d endured, she walked through the hours, often falling, then struggling back to her feet in search of help. Eventually, she stumbled upon a milk cow grazing in the distance. Laboriously, she made her way toward It, hoping it wouldn’t wander off. She stroked the gentle beast, before dropping to her knees, grasping an udder, and squirting warm milk into her mouth. Strengthened by the cow’s life-saving gift, she leaned against the kind beast, comforted by its warmth.. Anya kept pace with the cow, occasionally milking her or resting while the the beast grazed.Thankfully, the cow didn’t object to her company.
As the afternoon shadows lengthened, the cow seemed charged with purpose and picked up her pace. Anya took hold of her rope halter to keep up. As they climbed over a rise, a homestead came into view. Anya released the cow and she picked up the pace, trotting with purpose as her bag with its engorged udders swung side to side.
No mother had ever loved her. A woman or two passed through, but none of them stayed long. Ever since she could remember, she’d trailed Pa at his blacksmith or on the homestead though some days he didn’t speak five words to her. As she got older, she picked up a little cooking, but neither of them did more than they had to in the house. She was near thirteen when Bessie and her three boys moved in homestead after marrying Pa, Bessie railed at the filth in the house and set about teaching Anya housekeeping with a ready back-hand. She wasn’t partial to the girl, backhanding her own boys just as often. When Bessie’s baby girl was born a few months later, she carelessly handed it off to Anya, taking it only to nurse. For the first time in her life, Anya knew love, never leaving her new sister in Bessie’s way.
Bessie remarried quickly after Pa was kicked in the head by a horse and liked Anya even less after she caught her new man looking Anya’s way. Within a month, she’d handed Anya off to a Snake Oil peddler passing through. He warned her not to try to get away. “I done paid good money for you.” Anya endured his drunken assaults and those of men who paid him for her time. After the most brutal beating and rape she’d yet endured, he passed out from his own “Snake Oil.” Fueled by adrenaline and the knowledge that it was now or never, despite her useless right arm, Anya dragged herself to the wagon, took his pistol from under the wagon seat, aimed at his head and pulled the trigger. It kicked her backwards against the wagon. Desperately, she pulled herself up, took the shovel propped against the wagon wheel, steadied herself as best she could, and bashed in his skull. Repositioning herself, she took another go at him, knowing if he lived, he’d kill her.
With agonizing effort, she pulled his old horse next to the wagon and slid over from the step. Fortunately for her, the horse was old and docile or he’d have never tolerated her clumsiness. Popping the reins, she gave him his head. From time to time she’d nod off and awaken to find his head drooping, as he rested along with her. Urging him on, they’d travel a bit more till he sensed she wouldn’t notice his dawdling. In that manner, they traveled on through the night and early morning. As her fatigue and pain got the better of her, she spent less and less time pushing him. He ambled along and grazed as he pleased with no interference from her. She slid from his back as he made his way down a little slope to a stream. She drank beside him and crawled into the shade of a willow to rest. Somewhat interested, he watched his fellow traveler, then began grazing further and further along the stream. It was a good day to be a horse on the loose.
Once more Joe settled into his snug cocoon in the barn as Jack and the cats made it their business to join him. Though he was exhausted from all the work caring for his new family, he felt encouraged. That boy was smart. He mimicked Joe at his work and was picking up words way faster than Anna. He was putting a couple of words together now and used cat, dog, cow, milk, eat, pig and half a dozen other useful words, including damn. He’d even walked up on Joe pissing behind the pigsty and worked at getting his own little doodle out to give it a try. That would sure help with some of them diapers.
Even though Anna still looked down when he looked at her, he’d caught her looking his way a few times. She drew back from his touch and certainly hadn’t given any indication she wanted him in her bed. But she had two children! Surely she’d warm up. She knew a wife’s duty.
Deep in his thoughts, the howling of coyotes brought him out of his reverie. Jack went wild lunging at the barn doors as the terrified cats scattered. What in the Hell were coyotes doing this close? They normally shied away from a place with a dog. Maybe they’d gotten brave with Jack in the barn the last few nights. The”d probably jumped a rabbit, but he’d better have a look. Getting his lantern off the hook, he lit it outdoors. Jack was way ahead of him chasing the coyotes from the grove of mesquites he’d been avoiding, the place he’d buried Anna. He’d been avoiding thinking about that grave.
The coyotes were long gone but Jack ignored his call, digging and growling. Though he’d have preferred waiting for daylight, he thought he’d best see what had Jack stirred up. The smell of death overwhelmed him as he neared the trees and was sickened to see Jack pulling a long bone from the grave. He wretched and dropped to his knees as he realized the coyotes had dug up his dead wife.
God in Heaven! If she was in the grave, who was in the house?