200 feet from my window the car-world comes to a furtive stop.
Suggests something sinister, lurches forward and moves on. It
is hypnotizing to watch traffic from Forget. We miss
you. All of you who are gone and going. All of you who are not
coming home. Our sisters. The people who think we do not remember
them. Those of you we have hurt. We miss you all. In spirit
and in bodyKJB.
from Under Momma's Wings
by Edna Roberts
As I lay on my back gazing at the fluffy animal shapes in an
otherwise perfect, blue sky, a weaving line of seagulls cross
my vision on their endless quest for soft shelled clams and
darting silver minnows. They dive and rise between the cresting
waves and soar high above the rocky cliffs to claim their prize.
Listening to the roar of the surf, I imagine a great storm has
wiped out our sailing ship and left us marooned on this deserted
beach. I look out to sea, see the rolling breakers approach
with god-like fury and dissipate in little rivulets against
the burning sand. A lazy bee drones by paying me no attention.
Even the sand fleas are content to lie quiet beneath the sandy
surface white now with salt from receding tides.
My father was drowned you know. As was my only brother. Terribly
sad. Poor Mother. She gazes steadily out to sea. Sad at the
loss of her son, yet at peace with God and nature. "Too
much like his father he was, always knew he'd come to a bad
end. They lie together now at the bottom of the sea".
She wipes a salty tear from her sun darkened cheek and smiles
wistfully as the last bits of debris sink below the surface.
Turning, she thanks God for the safe delivery of her daughters
onto this friendly shore.
The wind blows off the land to bring the sweet scent of blueberries
fat and moist in the dunes beyond. Summoning her children to
follow, she heads across the sand, sun-baked crust crunching
beneath her feet. She picks a lush dewy blueberry and slowly
sucks its sweet juices as they dance across her tongue and caress
her salty throat.
Holding hands we skip along - our toes barely touching the
tops of swaying sand-hill grass. Our tanned bodies shining with
sweat and white with salt. Our fingers blue from picking berries.
Our tummies filled to bursting. We are four happy campers, my
mother, my sisters, and me. All our wishes have come true in
one foaming, swirling blast of nature. God bless Mother and
God bless Mother Nature. She has delivered us from our enemies
and filled our hearts with love.
A new flock of sea-gulls disturb my reverie, but not for long.
I dream on - enjoying the wonderful peace of make believe. We
camp beneath the stars fearing not the pending darkness. The
night is warm, the branches soft upon our skin. The night sounds
give way to quiet as the setting sun casts friendly shadows
and staring owls stand watch. "Good night, sweet dreams
my little ones" coos mother in her husky whisper as dwindling
streaks of fiery sunset fall behind the misty horizon wall.
And I fall asleep.
In dreams I race, sweat blinding me, heart pounding, leg muscles
knotted in agonizing pain. Behind me they draw closer. The ones
who drowned today. Father, his swollen dead fingers whirl the
sling blade almost reaching, almost reaching, so close I feel
its cold wind upon my neck. Joe, his sniveling bloated offspring
takes up the cry. "Get them, Father. Send them to the cold
bottom of the sea to take our places. Kill them now before they
wake. Kill them now."
Screaming silently, I strive to wake before they kill me. Before
they kill my precious mother. Somehow, I have to warn her. My
legs won't move; my voice will not scream. The sticky stuff
through which I run is unrelenting, bogging me down. I feel
the blade upon my back and wake screaming into the night, my
cries exploding through the still night air.
Above me I see them. This is not a dream. They are real. Back
from the dead. The soul-sucking vampires feed upon me, upon
my siblings, upon my sleeping mother. Again I try to scream
choking on spit and fear. My dream mother lies her hand upon
my thrashing shoulder and gently wakens me.
"Fear not child. They are gone. Sleep in peace."
Upon the beach, I awaken with terrible dread. Father is walking
toward me. The razor strap wrapped around his big, brown hand.
His face red with anger. The sun has set and still his inattentive
children have not returned. Anger building with every step he
reaches me; he grabs my hair and pulls me to my trembling feet.
I don't beg for mercy. There is no purpose. The beating is as
sure as the night is long. Only God can save me and he doesn't
appear to be around much these days. The strap cuts into the
flesh of my skinny legs; blood mixes with salt and sand as he
lifts the strap to strike again, screaming obscenities and calling
me "Child from Hell". I try not to cry, but I'm just
a little kid. He's big and strong and cruel. I bite back the
tears and wait for the next blow, and the next. One day, there
will be a final beating; but not today. He turns his attention
to where my sisters had been playing in the surf. There was
no one there. They had fled in terror. No matter. He'd get them
sooner or later and their punishment would be even more severe.
He'd teach them to be cowards.
Frantic, driven by a terror beyond my years, I search through
the painful corridors of my mind. Reality escapes me. Is this
real? Am I awake, or is it just a horrible nightmare? I don't
know. Awake, he stands above me strap in hand, Asleep still
he stands. In and out of reality I drift, lost between two terrifying
worlds. Where are you Momma? Oh, Momma, please help me. I promise
I'll never be bad again.
I used to think my father had gone through life and died without
contributing anything to his family. I have re-evaluated this
thought, however, and now realize that he left his children
with a special gift. We each got rheumatoid arthritis, asthma,
hammer toes, and a predisposition to alcoholism. We have below
normal self-esteem and an eternal fear that his character will
somehow show up again in our children. It has already made itself
well known in the abusive way in which my brother treats the
ones who love him.
My brother's nasty streak started early. He was only a bit
of a kid when he would go about the house smashing doors and
walls. He abused everyone in our house often leaving us to face
our school mates with bloodied mouths and black eyes. He'd strike
his little dog, threaten to hit Momma and act exactly like his
father. He was another gift we girls got from Father. A miserable
little prick of a brother - chip of the old block you might
say. We should have put him in the barrel with the old black
cow and pickled him.
He hasn't changed much. He's old now and crippled with arthritis
and short of breath from lung damage. He can't get around as
fast or scream his abuse as loudly, but he still manages to
verbally slap someone's face every day or two.
When I see all these heart wrenching reunions with long lost
brothers on television, I have no idea what those people must
be feeling. If they wanted a brother, I would gladly have given
them mine and thrown in a father at no extra charge.
is a friend of a friend.