2 Replies to “10.30.2013 Journal Prompt”

  1. We did not miss her at first,me and Sissy, just like we didn’t miss him when he left. Seven years and all that our Pa had ever been was shrunk to the small stories we knew of the man. No pictures were ever passed round to aunts on church days or feast days, and no aunts saying he was surely a good man and a fine man and a handsome man. No one saying I had his eyes or his hair or his high cheekbones or anything. I watched our mam often enough sweeping the dirt from the floor and she lifted a corner of the carpet and the dirt brushed out of sight there. And it was the same with our Pa, and his name said only in whispers, when it was said at all, and they say he did bad things before he left and so he is not missed.

    And mam, sweet and gay, and singing on days that did not deserve song, and she was the one who held it all together after he left, even when times were hard. And she begged when there was no money in her purse, her hand held out for pinched pennies or short silver; or she went with rough men with no names, and we stuffed cotton into our ears so we could not hear the gallop and gallop of those men in our mam’s bed.

    And mam said we had to stick in at school and she said it would be better for us if we did, better than it ever had been for her. And we read her stories we had written and she heard them through to the end, patient and keen, and she nodded when we’d done and she said we were blessed to have such things in our heads.

    And she kissed us when we left for school each day and she sent us off with a soft word. A whole pocketful of our mam’s soft words that we did not dare lose. More silver than dollars, more yellow than gold.

    And then, when the bus dropped us at the bottom of the hill and the day was near to its end, our mam would be standing on the front porch waiting, one hand shading her eyes and the other waving, and she ever wore a smile. And when we reached where she was, we looked over her shoulder for the shadows of men adjusting their britches.

    Mam, and she’s gone now. Gone when she said she’d never leave us because she loved us so. And we trusted that promise she made and we never saw the sick that she was, or the pale, or the thin and thinner. Not till she was to her bed and the doctor was called, too late, and he shook his head and said there was nothing he could do even if we had the money. And she’s gone, and it’s just me and Sissy, and we are on our own now.

    So I got a job at Hartwell’s store, stacking shelves and making deliveries, and he lets me take the bread that doesn’t sell and the apples with bruises under the skin, and he pays me each day, in green dollars with ‘In God We Trust’ printed in neat letters, and he says to go careful. And his wife makes extra dinner that she puts in a tin pot for me and for Sissy and I thank her and I tell her Sissy thanks her, too.

    And I sit at table with my sister after we have eaten, and the lamp is lit, and I tell her the things mam used to say, about how she should stick in at school and how it will be better for her if she does. And I make sure she is at her homework and she makes it right. And I promise that I will never leave her, and she says she knows, but the way that she says it I don’t think she believes me.

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