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Updated on December 19, 2010

Lynn liked the new house, well rather the woods right next to it on one side and the cornfield that butted right up to the dirt driveway on the other. She spent most days in the thick woods of trees tangled and muted from much larger trees that cut off their growing. The smaller trees and bushes made quite a good jungle and she was on safari, hacking at twisted branches that prevented her passage.

Some days, Ann would join her and showed her how to get through to the edge of the golf course that lay beyond. With no interest in child’s games, Ann’s motive for enduring scratched legs and arms was purely monetary. There was a place in town that would pay them a quarter for ten golf balls in good condition, once scrubbed clean. A quarter would purchase a used 45 that she would add to her scant collection of six favorites. They had a record player long before a tv and with their Mother’s love of music, she was almost always given permission to play her records. Lynn loved the days when Ann joined her and looking for fouled golf balls became her passion – she was a pirate looking for treasure.

Most days Ann was busy with chores or in her room, sulking, their Mother said. Lynn always tried to finish her chores right after breakfast so she had the rest of the day free to explore. When she wasn’t in the woods, the cornfield became her playground, running down endless rows of green stalks that reached high into blue skies. At the very far end of the cornfield was a small creek that seemed to come from nowhere and end there too. As many times as she followed it as far as she dared, she could never find a rocky edge or sandy beach area where she could have played. It was a pretty worthless creek as creeks go, and when she showed it to Ann her sister said it was only a drainage ditch that water ran into from the fields. That would explain why some days it was deep and almost rushing and others a mere trickle. Lynn liked to believe it was a creek where fish swam deep underneath the top of the brownish water. She fashioned a fishing pole from a branch, some rope and a safety pin swiped from her Mother’s sewing box and would sit at the edge waiting for a tug at the pole. Once, something snagged on the pin and her heart stopped. What if there was a huge ole fish on the other end and she dragged it up out of the water? What would she do with it? If she carried it home by the rope it would be wiggling and trying to get free and probably looking at her with big angry eyes cause she took it out of its home. Then there was the whole safety pin issue. Her Mom would surely recognize it and know she had stolen it from the sewing box and that meant a spanking for sure. Lynn threw pole and all into the water and ran through the cornfield with guilty tears making tracks down her dusty face. She avoided the creek after that.

Ann rolled her eyes and shrugged her shoulders when their Mother turned her back. At the stove, she stabbed another ear of corn, slammed it down on Lynn’s plate and told her to eat her breakfast before it got cold. The woman stood, drinking coffee and staring at the empty driveway as if she could make the bastard’s car appear. They had eaten corn all day yesterday and now there was no oleo to put on it but Lynn did as she was told and bit into the tough corn, chasing it down with water. Ann asked to be excused and Lynn’s stomach tightened – she had not touched her breakfast!

“Go,”the woman’s stare stayed on its mark,”and do your chores right away. We’re going to have to walk into town.”

Ann stared at the woman as if she had two heads. ”Walk to town? It’s over fifteen miles – how do you think we can” ….. Lynn lowered her head as soon as she saw her mother leave the window. Ann never could keep her mouth shut and never shed a tear or made a sound when she caught it and hardly a day passed that she didn’t do something to cause their Mother’s rage. The food caught Lynn’s her throat as slapping hands made the noise that was heard so often. She choked and tried to drink water to force down the corn but there was just no room and it all came back up in a mighty protest, all over the table and Lynn’s blouse. She tried to shrink up so small she wouldn’t be seen, failing that, she slid under the table and waited for the hand to drag her out. It didn’t come! Something far more important caught the woman’s attention – a car in the driveway. Ann was above her cleaning the table and told her to run upstairs fast and change her blouse, she would be right there.

Because there was only one source of heat in the house, a large antiquated wood burning heater, there were large floor registers in the upstairs rooms. There were enough grates were broken out of the one in the girl’s room to afford them clear view of the living room. Downstairs they saw their Father and Uncle Ronnie taking seats as their Mother moved from window to window watering plants. She turned from the window closest to the chair, Melvin, the father, had taken.

“Where have you been? Do you know what day it is or care that I’ve been out here with no food – had to feed the girl’s field corn for two days?” their Mother’s voice was oddly low and calm.

Still drunk, Melvin patted his stomach and through laughter asked “Well can you bring me a plate of that and one for Ronnie too. I’m starved!” He laughed again at his wit. Uncle Ronnie was not laughing – neither was their mother. She had moved to the beautiful large pepper plant that had survived more moves than most of the furniture. It thrived under the woman’s green thumb in a huge clay pot thick as yesterday's oatmeal and painted with colors of a desert sunset. Three quick steps and one hate filled move found Melvin sitting, dazed, with broken pieces of clay in his lap, soil falling down his shirt and the pepper plant atop his head. Blood mixed with dirt gushed down his face and mixed with his hair as he shook his head like a wet dog. It was too much for Lynn to contain. She could not remember seeing anything, ever, so funny as the look on his face and dissolved onto the floor in a pile of laughter. Ann turned on her and shook her hard, telling her to shut up!

Uncle Ronnie was yelling that she could have killed him, leading him toward the car to go get stitches. Their Mother, not to be left in a house with no food and with whatever was left of the paycheck heading out the door, hollered upstairs for Ann to watch Lynn until she got back.

Ann didn’t have much of a job watching Lynn. She just sat in the corner of the bedroom, holding her stupid old teddy bear and flinching every time Ann would go over to her, trying to get her to come down and listen to records. She even offered to teach her how to dance!


Submit a Comment

  • Poohgranma profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from On the edge

    Yes, my Mother suffered from a mental illness that was never treated so she didn't have much control over her rages. It took me many years to understand that but I did before she died, thank God.

  • stars439 profile image


    7 years ago from Louisiana, The Magnolia and Pelican State.

    Very moving work. The child so afraid that it dares not move. To throw up food and be afraid to have done it is so terrible. It is so easy for adults to not see how sensitive children are, and how delicately they should be treated. Fantastic work. God Bless You.

  • Poohgranma profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from On the edge

    Oh now, you just have to wait and see Scarlett. God never leaves us completely alone - it's just in His timing and not ours and that's what feels so wrong sometimes, I think. Plus, if we aren't depending on someone else it clears the way for us to depend on and appreciate Him.

  • Scarlett My Dear profile image

    Scarlett My Dear 

    7 years ago from Missouri

    Sisters ~ angels in the darkness, friends in the light.

    Where was your saving grace, Pooh? When did you see any good in the world at the hands of adults?

  • Poohgranma profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from On the edge

    You are kind SOH to read and comment. It has been quiet today and I have made No Bake Cookies and called my son to offer some but he does not return my call and I try not to worry. My grandson will be flying in from AZ on Tuesday to spend the Holidays so we will be very blessed to see him. I should have been cleaning today instead of reading hubs and making candy but it was a lazy days for me. Tomorrow brings a visit to my psych-doc if I can get there threw the snow we are supposed to get. I will try to get copies of all of the writing I did when I saw a therapist at their office for a couple of years. She encouraged me to write and boy, did I - volumes and volumes. That should jog my memory so I can write more.

  • SomewayOuttaHere profile image


    7 years ago from TheGreatGigInTheSky descriptive of the pain, the craziness, the fear, the laughter...and the childhood innoncence of just bein' a kid ....yor a pretty fine writer i must say....i always look forward to reading yor hubs.....


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