Patti, Debbie and Sharon inspired me last week to pay more respect to my life-long tendency to people-watch, and to weave stories from what I see.
Today - even though it's Monday - let's have some fun. Let's pull an old photo from the public domain (click here for a larger view), and weave a paragraph around it. We
ladies will go first, and then, please, dear readers, do join in.
I'll go first:
So far as she cared, Frank could keep the house with all its dusty carvings and stained glass windows. What Meredith and the girls needed was a whole lot of distance. And her husband's Packard was a distance making machine; she'd learned that just a week ago. Seven days wasn't much time to learn to drive, and the first seventy-five miles over the Cascade Mountains had been a bit rough. Lily and Pansy didn't mind, but Alice had just this moment decided that she wore the pants in the family. She didn't like eating Jujubes for breakfast. She didn't like sleeping in the car, and she didn't like her mother's driving. Well fine. Let her take the wheel a while. They only needed distance.
I know the only way to say this is to say it fast and straight out. And the only way to do it without tears is to do it in front of an audience. The girls barely count, because to them there never was such an adventure as this. But while Daddy's off collecting his pay, which he hopes will take us a few more counties west -- pay for a job so beneath a man of his goodness and ability I might add ... a job not even Denny Parker, the scoundrel of Broken Hollow, would have taken before the world lost its footing -- I'm just gonna say it out loud to Mama. Then I'm catching the Greyhound back home. Because I'm not leaving Jess. Not ever. Not with the likes of Naomi Bidwell waiting to show him her dimples. And a whole lot more.Mama and me gave up sleeping in the rumble seat and counted enough shooting stars for a lifetime of good luck, something I wasn't expecting to gather on a camping trip with my cousin Betty. Just goes to show there's always a silver lining, just like my daddy keeps telling me. With so much luck in our pockets, Mama decided she'd had enough of camping and wanted to go home. Even with Betty sticking her tongue out at me every few minutes, the thought of going home made my stomach sour. The pineys smelled so fresh and the air lay soft on my skin. Back home the air made my skin sticky. And the smell? Let me just say I lived downwind from Grundstetner's hog farm. No matter how many times I yelled Fresh strawberries! nothing ever changed.
Aunt Lucy's eyes went all squinty when Mama told her to drive us home. "Are you kidding me, Raelyn? We're almost to the farm."
Mama climbed out of the rumble seat. "We ain't talking about this here." She tipped her head toward the lake and Aunt Lucy followed her. More than anything, I wanted to follow along, but sure if I did, Mama would tan me good. The tanning wouldn't hurt as much as stupid Betty laughing and snorting at me, trying to hold back my tears.
Betty looked at me with the same squinty eyes of her mother. "Your daddy's a bad man."
It didn't make no sense to waste words on Betty. She believed whatever she wanted to. And
the wronger she was, the more she believed it. In two shakes I was out of the car. I pulled her baggie pants to her ankles and pushed her hard into the dirt. If I earned a tanning, I wanted it to be for something worthwhile, so while Betty bawled, I ate her candy bar.
"She ain't coming back. She got into his truck and they lit out." Georgia squinted toward the horizon. "Probably in Idaho by now."
Clara huffed and tucked her hands beneath her arms for warmth. "You don't know nothin'. She wouldn't leave. She promised Mama she'd watch out for us."
Daisy started to cry and Clara pulled her close, wrapping their Mama's old quilt around her shoulders. "Now look what you done. Don't cry, Daisy. Aunt Sadie wouldn't leave us."
Merle snorted. "She'd leave us if it wasn't for the money in that valise."
Georgia reached down to the floorboard and opened the latch on the valise. "Like I was saying," she pulled it open to show the black emptiness, "she's gone, gone."
It's funny what you think about when the moment you've been waiting for actually comes. I should have been rehearsing what I planned to say to her, should have been going over the words in my mind so I'd get it right.You only get one chance and after what she'd done, I wanted it to be perfect. But I wasn't practicing my speech as I walked toward Velma's Packard. I wasn't even thinking about my daughter who Velma had taken more than four days ago. I tucked Velma's own daughter, Bea, behind me pulling her along as I walked through the trees toward the woman who had ruined my life. And all I could think about was how strong the pine smelled, how it was nothing like the pine-in-a-bottle stuff I used to clean my kitchen floor. How real things aren't anything like we imagine they would be. How Velma's Packard looks peaceful sitting in the middle of a circle of cars. Like maybe it's a camp out and we're all here to experience a wilderness weekend instead of a posse to take back my girl from this crazy woman. As I put my hand on the roof of that old Packard and open my lips to say something--all that fills my mouth is pine air.
Git in the back, she told me. Git out right now, she’s ordering us all right now. Now git back in. Rearrange that quilt so the hole shows. No, these clothes aren’t stupid they’re vintage. I can hear you when you mutter stuff like that under your breath. Yes, people used to wrap up their heads like this – you wouldn’t really want to travel for hour after hour with the wind whipping your hair follicles in circles till your scalp felt like it had been sandpapered, would you?
No, the car doesn’t have to run, this isn’t a movie.
Pullease. Just sit still for one more take.
And if I catch you texting one more time. . .
There are plenty of other girls that would like to get their start. Ever heard of a resume?
You’re not looking at your mom glaring at you, but I am.
Just sit still.
Just sit still.