A Country-Style Dream

December 6, 2012
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It felt like a dream. It probably was a dream, trundling up the path halting just before the creek. I numbly stepped out of the car Ms. Dixon was driving, and she hugged me tight.
“They’re going through a rough time now, sweetie,” she said, “just be patient and you’ll be fine.”

I was about to reply when I heard a shout from above. “She’s here!”

There she was. Ivy June Mosley was dashing down the path to me. I quickly detached myself from Mrs. Dixon as Ivy June hurled herself at me, hugging me fiercely.

“Goodness, Ivy June,” Mrs. Dixon exclaimed, “ Don’t strangle the poor girl.”

Ivy June pulled back from me and grinned. Her facial features really stood out. Her brown hair, her freckles, they seemed to complete her look.

I reached into the car and pulled out my knapsack. Ivy June took it from me and I stared at her.

“No really, I can carry it,’ I said reaching for knapsack.

“And carry these, too?”

I glanced sheepishly at the backseat. It was clear that Ivy June was right. There was no way I could carry my knapsack, bag, suitcase, and book bag.

“Don’t worry,” Ivy June said, “my two brothers are here to help.”

She had spoken the truth. I hadn’t even seen the two boys follow Ivy June. But as I looked over her shoulder I saw two boys who looked as if they were in their teens.

“Hi,” said the boy on the left, “I’m Ezra.”

“I’m Tracie,” I said, smiling.

Hey, Tracie, I’m Howard,” said the other boy, who was on the right.

In a flash, Ezra leaped forward and pulled out my suitcase as Howard swung my bag over his shoulder. I pulled out my book bag so the backseat was now empty.

“Goodbye, dear,” said Mrs. Dixon. She pecked me lightly on the cheek, got into her car, and drove away.

“Well,” said Ivy June, “we’d better head to Ma’s house.”

We started trudging up the winding path, Ezra and Howard panting.

“So, Tracie,” Ivy June said, “I should probably tell you a bit about my family.”

“I’m listening.” I said.

“So, I don’t live with my Ma and Pa. I used to until they were too many people and not enough space. There’s my younger brother, Danny, my older sister, Jessie, and then Ezra and Howard. Only one person needed to go. Mammaw and Papaw, who’re my grandparents, said that I could live with them. They live by Ma and Pa so I can visit their house anytime I want.

“In my house, there are no bathrooms, but there’s an outhouse in the back. I will also place a bedpan under your bed so you can use that during the night.”

I wrinkled my nose. Outhouse? Bedpan? Ewww………

“Mammaw says that as soon as we can, we’ll get an indoor bathroom. But I don’t think we’ll ever get one.”

“Why not?” I asked.

“Papaw used to work in the mine. But he retired a while ago. It was dangerous work. He still gets paid because he’s worked for so long and he’s old. But it’s not enough to live off of. We’ve started growing crops out in the field, so we’re getting food. There’s a water pump by the outhouse so we get water.”

“Is it safe?” I asked.

“Yeah, it is. Papaw said that they’ve been using it for ages and no one has ever gotten sick. I haven’t gotten new clothes in two years, but I wash hem under the water pump every week with homemade soap. All in all, your life is probably pretty different from ours.”

“It is,” I admitted, “but not a lot different.”

We reached the top of the path, and I found myself looking at a teeny tiny house on the hillside.
Howard and Ezra led Ivy June and me to the front door and entered.

“Welcome!” exclaimed Ma. She was a middle-aged lady, probably in her thirties or forties. Her brown hair was wound up in a bun at the back of her head, and she wore a white apron over her flowery dress.

Ma put one arm around me in a sort of half hug and looked down at me.
“Do you want some apple juice?” she asked.
“Ma, are you going to ask that to every visitor who comes here?” asked Ivy June.
Ma withdrew her hand from my shoulder. “It’s the polite thing to do to a guest, Ivy June.”
“Guest?” came a voice from another room.
Jessie appeared looking curious. “You’re not Catherine Coombs.”
“I’m Tracie McDonald,” I said. Extending my hand. Jessie started at me witheringly and I slowly lowered my hand. O-kay. Awkward.
“Well,” Ivy June announced loudly to really no one in particular,” We’ll just take Tracie to Mammaw and Papaw’s house.”
She steered me out the door and Ezra and Howard stumbled after us.
We went up a cobblestone path leading to another house that was slightly larger but still very small.
“Mammaw? Papaw?” Ivy June called as she pushed open the front door.
Mammaw looked up from cutting potatoes and hurried to us. “Welcome, welcome,” she said, wrapping her arms around me. She was warm and the house smelled like spices. It was a nice smell and I inhaled deeply, taking in it all.
When Mammaw and I broke apart, she lead me to another room where Papaw was sitting, reading a book.
He looked up as we entered. “Well, look who it is,” he said, rising from the chair, “Madame McDonald.”
“That’s what Mr. Stevens calls me,” I said, “but lately I’ve been known as ‘Gents.’”
“I want to here all about him and all about you, but first, get into these arms, kiddo.” I walked forward and Papaw wrapped his arms around me. He smelled like cinnamon and peppermint sticks. When he released me, I looked into his eyes. They were dazzling and looked old but knowledgeable.
“Why don’t you show Tracie where she’ll be sleeping, Ivy June,” Mammaw said, “and you two boys,” she said, meaning Ezra and Howard who had put my stuff down but we were still standing there, “you’d better skedaddle. God knows this girls needs some peace and quiet.”
Ivy June took my suitcase and I took my bag, and I followed her to a room off the hall. It was small but looked homey. Two wood beds were laid on opposite sides of the room and there were two dressers. I put my book bag in the corner by the dresser closest to me, and I put my bag on the bed. Ivy June rolled my suitcase to the edge of my bed and gave my knapsack to me, which I also put in the corner.
After we unpacked, Papaw showed me where he grew his crops and talked about the different kind of if things he grew. After that, Ivy June showed me her secret hiding place that only Catherine knew about besides her. It was the top of a mountain near Mammaw’s and Papaw’s house.
“I sometimes come here when I feel sad or lonely,” Ivy June said, “I just sing out loudly and I listen to the echo. Then I don’t feel sad and lonely, and it’s like a fried is singing with me. It’s our way if communicating.”
Dinner that night was very enjoyable affair. Ivy June and I pumped water and we had corn, beans and cheesy potatoes. As dessert, we had carrots dipped in some sort of chocolate creamy stuff.
That night, I lay in bed in bed thinking about my wonderful day. I thought and thought, and came up that my day had been one of my best. I lay in Ivy June Mosley’s house, and wondered what the next day would bring.

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