Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Chapter 32


A Place to Call Home


"A thing long expected takes the form of the unexpected when at last it comes.” – Mark Twain

 “There” wound up being the little house that Lee’s Aunt Pet used to live in at one time. 

“Lee?” 

“I know its little but I can fix that eventually.  And I figure you could had a few of your own idea like we used to talk about.” 

“But … how … I mean … Lee I don’t even have a job yet and I haven’t seen that you have one either.  How could we pay for this?” 

“Papa T said he’s been holding onto it for me.  That Aunt Pet signed it over to him when she had to move to town ‘cause she didn’t want her kids getting in a snot about it.  He said he’d been concerned that we couldn’t handle a place of our own but then you fixed Gram’s birdbath that got broken in that last storm and did it so tight you can’t tell it’d ever been broke … and all without asking.” 

“Oh it was just the base.  Nothing some mortar and a little shaping couldn’t fix.” 

I felt my ears go hot.  Getting praise from Lee’s grandfather was a pretty big deal as the man was a miser with his words.  He was the type that would choose to use one word instead of two and would substitute a grunt, sigh, or look for the one if he could get away with it.” 

“But what about …” 

Lee shook his head having read my mind like he used to.  “Don’t even say it.  You can’t please everyone.  Sure some of the family will be a little bent out of shape over it but most of them have already had the opportunity to be free and independent … or they can make their own chance if they haven’t.  There are those that can go back to their places too … and some of ‘em plan to do just that in the Spring.” 

“What do your mom and dad think?” 

“Dad’s the one that brought up me building a place and then Papa T said why build and waste time and supplies when there was already this place.” 

“What about your mother and grandmother and the housework and such everyone talked about me helping with?” 

“That’s was mostly just my sisters running their mouths trying to get a rise out of you; take my advice and ignore ‘em, you’ll never get any peace otherwise.  As for the rest, things ain’t changed from when I first come to find you.  The grandparents and parents won’t push us out of the nest but they won’t hold us back from jumping out on our own either.  Dad said they’d like to see the more self-sufficient start moving along so there’s fewer excuses for the … er … other ones to continue to hang on without helping.  Dad and Mom both said we’re the best set to go first.  And since we wouldn’t be going too far they’re comfortable that they can still keep an eye on us.” 

“Best set?  Not that I think your folks owe us .. me … anything but all of what could be my dower is still back at the cave.” 

Lee just looked at me and then asked quietly, “You don’t remember do you?” 

Given the tone of his voice I asked worriedly, “Something … something happened to the cave?” 

“It’s empty.” 

My heart sank.  “Oh no.  How …?” 

“Easy there.  We emptied it.” 

Confused I tried to remember and it just brought on a headache.  “I … ?  Huh?” 

He then explained how he, his dad, and a few others from the family emptied the cave and carted everything down. 

“Had to come in at night and run it by the old ‘shine routes to keep folks out of our business.” 

“But …” 

“Bella just listen Sweetheart and don’t get mad.  You were bad off.  I was scared to move you ‘cause of how bad off you were.  Weren’t even sure at the time what had happened.  So we moved everything else and then you and the ark.  We actually carted June Ellen up to you and she stabilized you so that we wouldn’t hurt you worse.  You were hardly ever conscious and when you were you didn’t make much sense or we’d have to repeat things over and over and you still didn’t remember.  You scared me so bad I don’t want to even think about it again and Dad was the only one that understood.  So just give me a chance and let me show you around OK?” 

He carried me up the stairs to the porch, unlocked the shutters across the door, then the door itself.  “It’s a mess.  I tried to pile things the way they made some sense but … well me and sensible weren’t having much to do with each other there for a while.  Uh … just …” 

“You had to give them the food.” 

“Huh?  No … no Bella.  I swear I wouldn’t just give you’re your hard work away.  I just … I’ll have to build you another greenhouse.  There was no way to dismantle it in the time we had.  Some of your plants didn’t make it down and the rest are in Gram’s seedling house.” 

Then I understood.  “You’re worried I’m upset about the greenhouse?!  Lee Ward Thompson sometimes I think you are three-quarters crazy.  Why would I be mad at you about that when you brought everything else down and me besides?” 

“Wellll ….” 

“Deep subject.  Now help me around.  There’s barely enough room to change your mind in here.”  I was happy to see our stuff and anxious to see what I had to work with as to getting it put in some order. 

I got my fill of looking and wanted to keep going but I was getting so tired.  Lee noticed and asked, “Bella, if … if I carry you upstairs, and put together the bed, you think you’d stay here tonight?  The fireplace up there is sound doesn’t smoke even a bit.” 

“You want to?” 

“Yeah.” 

“And you really want to live here?” 

“Yeah.” 

“What … what about the cave?” 

“We can always run up there and visit, just like you said your folks did.  Shirley’s husband went to the courthouse and you do own it free and clear … you just can’t really build on the land per se, at least not beyond maintaining the historical structures that are already there.  Property taxes are on a moratorium right now so that’s no problem either and I can work time with the county rehabbing the courthouse and things like that when the cash does need to come through.  They’ve already been talking to Dad about it.” 

I gave it a thought or two then nodded.  “Well, when I agreed to this thing between us I reckon I agreed to follow you wherever you led.  And it’s not like you haven’t been crazy about hunting for me not once but twice.  So I guess so long as you want to I guess here it is.  But Lee?” 

“Yeah?” 

“Please promise that we can go back sometimes.  It’s where I feel closest to the memories of my family; where they hurt the least to think about.”
 
He gave me a careful hug and swore, “Of course we will Bella, I’d never take that away from you … never even think it.  If the Lord tarries and the creek don’t rise, I plan on us spending time up there regular.”

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