Courtship and Chocolates
“Courtship lifts a young fellow far and away above his common earthly self and by an impulse natural to those lofty regions he puts on his halo and his heavenly war paint and plays archangel as if he were born to it. He is working a deception, but is not aware of it.” – Mark Twain
The next couple of days were difficult in ways I’d rather they hadn’t been. The gash turned nasty and did its level best to get infected even with keeping it clean and putting triple antibiotic ointment on it. My eye and the side of my head thumped for three days before it finally let up and the swelling started to go down.
I’m not above admitting I wasn’t real pleasant to be around. I triedbut after about a day of constant pain I got snappish and then weepy. It didn’t help that my monthlies decided to come early and aggravate me even more. Then Lee did something that made me even more weepy and irritated on top of it – and grateful too – all at the same time.
“Lee, where did you get it?” I asked, not quite believing what he had snuck onto my saucer when I got up to get another cup of mint tea.
“Uh …,” he hesitated, trying not to look guilty.
“Spit it out. Was it that cabin?” I asked still flabbergasted.
“Well … no. It was Dad.”
“Huh?! You’ve … you’ve seen your dad up here?”
“Uh uh.” Lee scrubbed his mouth that was still hidden under the bushy mustache and beared he barely kept trimmed. “See, it’s like this … Dad said if I was going to go crazy and come hunt you up that it probably wouldn’t hurt to come with something that would sweeten the deal for you. Only I got here and you haven’t needed – or wanted – anything like that so I thought to hang on to it for a present. Only … well … I thought …”
“You think I need some sweetening up now.” I was made for about a half second then the weeps caught me off guard and I ran off to the storage annex to feel sorry for myself and have a good cry in private.
Only Lee don’t apparently believe in a girl having a cry in private. After catching up with me he said, “Aw Bella,” like he was sorry he’d put the little box of Whitman’s chocolates out. “Guess it doesn’t work for every female. Mom and all the other girls used to go nuts for ‘em. I just thought you would too. Dad kept the freezer stocked with Hershey’s kisses and would get as nervous as he did at tax time if the supply started to get low.”
I sniffed and gave him a half-hearted push. “He did not.”
“Did so,” Lee swore but I could tell he was trying to get me to smile. “I’m telling you he just about tore a patch off us boys if we got into any of it. He was sweating bullets there for a while until Papa T pulled out those four five gallon buckets of chocolate chips he’d won in an auction and never done nothing with.”
The way he was telling it and me trying to imagine his daddy in a panic with all those girls running around with their monthlies turned my weeps into a giggle. “You’re just awful … and so are your tall tales.”
He shuddered dramatically. “Ain’t no story Bella. When you got that many females – pregnant or not – running around in your family chocolates and sweets become a matter of life and death. It was worse than when coffee got scarce. If I’m lyin’ I’m dyin’ and that’s a fact.”
I swatted at him again causing him to ask seriously, “If it ain’t chocolate, then what fixes you when you feel like this?”
Feeling a little silly I told him, “Chocolates are fine for most I suppose but for me it used to be a bottle of RC or Cheerwine when I could get it. Uncle Jerry wasn’t partial to the name of that one no matter that it wasn’t anywhere near alcoholic. Either way, I’ve learned to do without so get that funny look off your face. I’m just … just … it’s the … you know … and my face looking like Frankenstein that has me acting like a cranky badger.”
Gently brushing the hair out of my eyes he asked, “Does it really hurt?”
“It don’t feel good,” I conceded. “But I’ll live. I’m sorry I’m being foul about it though. I’ll try and stop but it just keeps sneaking out on me.”
“I’m not … sorry I mean. Makes me feel like you need me some.” Then he gave a grin and asked, “What if I told you I could make you some pop?”
“Are you hiding more treasures in your supplies I ain’t seen?”
“Nope. And we’ll have to go back to that cabin and grab them empty beer bottles we left behind. But if you don’t mind me snitching some of the yeast and sugar, you’ll have you some soda pop next time this rolls around.”
“And how do you figure on that miracle? You ain’t talkin’ about ‘shine are you?”
“Do I look like I’d risk the family’s wrath on something like that? I’ll show you when it’s time. For now why don’t you go lay down.”
Shaking my head slowly so as not to start it thumping worse I told him, “I’m not an invalid Lee.”
“Not saying you are but I’ve got to do some hammering and you probably aren’t gonna like it.”
I didn’t but I wasn’t going to lay around being puny and pathetic either; a girl has to have some pride after all. I did go to the other side of the cave to work however. And put ear plugs in.
We’d made a lot of headway in our inventoryand had found food wasn’t going to be a problem for a while though we wanted to take another deer if the weather allowed for it and turn as much as we could to jerky. It was the stuff I’d never given much thought to that was gonna be trouble.
We didn’t have enough salt though at one time I could have sworn I’d have enough to never run out in two lifetimes. Sweetening was also gonna run out before next fall. Other things like powdered milk, toilet paper, shoe strings, matches, gauze bandages, mouthwash, cheese, some of my seasonings, plastic wrap, rope, dish soap, and deodorant were all on my want list. I needed some way to keep feeding the ark as well since winter meant there would be less forage for them. Rufus and Beau had gotten into the habit of getting squirrel or three … or a rabbit if they could catch it … but during the winter I’d have to bring the provender.
And then there was the fact that there wouldn’t be anything fresh for people diets either, at least nothing green and fresh. Which reminded me I’d run through the big bottle of vitamins that I had picked up even before Lee found me which meant I needed to think about making sure the food we did have gave us all our vitamins and minerals so we wouldn’t get sick.
Needless to say a swollen up eye wasn’t the only thing giving me a headache.