Author's note: Summer has a way of bringing changes, doesn't it?
VisitI tried to wake up as early as I could to make breakfast for Mrs. Barnett. But, when I opened my eyes, while it was still dark out, my nose found the appeasing aroma of breakfast in the kitchen. One word came to mind.
"Jamie," I whispered. I rolled out of bed and scrambled into the kitchen to find the redhead cooking up a storm. It smelt good.
"Good morning, Seth," Jamie greeted without turning around. She's good. I jumped a little. She giggled.
"You need any help?" I asked, for the first time in my life, not stuttering.
As always it was the wrong question to ask. She took one of her arms and pointed her finger at me, the other arm on her other hip.
"Come here," she smiled smoothly, wagging her finger. I gulped and walked toward her. "A little closer," she whispered until I was 5 inches from her face (looking down, of course.) "I've said this once, Seth Lakey, and I know you've only known me for a week and some odd days, but you have to know that I can take care of my lil old self. Clear?" she spoke with such cofidence in her tone I almost trembled.
"Yes'um," I choked, unable to reply at first. She was using her coffee colored eyes again. The one that made my spine feel like it was frozen. The one that made my heart go thump, thump! until I thought it would pump out of my chest. This, to me, was no fair. She had an advantage.
"Now, go be a darling and get Derek and Mamaw (Dr. Schwan) to go ahead and get there hind ends ready for some breakfast." I obeyed, looking into those deep coffee eyes. We stood there for a minute, staring into another's eyes intently. All you could hear was the even sound of our breathing. My heart started thumping in my chest again. I didn't hate it, but was rather embarrassed. Jamie's giggle broke the silence, and the stare.
"Are you going to stand there making google eyes all day?" called Derek.
"Derek Lykins," called a familiar voice behind him. Dr. Schwan.
"Oh, hi, Mamaw," Jamie said quickly, brushing off our moment.
"You guys need to get hitched or something," Derek mumbled. Then, something happened. I thought I'd never live to see it. Jamie Lauren blushed.
"Aw, dang, Derek, cut that out," Dr. Schwan scolded.
"Yes ma'am," he mumbled.
"I'm going to take Mrs. Barnett her breakfast," I announced, taking a dish from the table and stocking it up with Jamie's homemade biscuits and gravy, sausage, and grits. Then I poured a cup of milk and dashed into the bedroom.
"Mrs. Barnett," I softly shook her.
"Good morning, Seth," she marveled, looking at the plate of food I brung.
"Jamie?" she asked, laughing. She didn't act a bit afraid as someone who just almost got killed would. But, then again, we're talking about Mrs. Barnett.
"Yeah," I laughed with her. Then I cleared my throat.
"Do you remember anything from last night? About the identity of the thief, I mean," I tried to make it sound brave, but when I said it aloud, my voice had cracks in it.
"Yes," she breathed. "He was about your height, but a bit taller. He was slim..."
"I mean, anything you didn't tell Sheriff Jordan," I choked.
Mrs. Barnett just stared into space.
"Seth! Them farm chores sure ain't gonna do themselves, you know!" yelled Jamie. I turned and walked out the door, walking with Derek and Jamie to do the day's work.
A couple hours later, me and Jamie and Derek where tending to the crops. Then Mrs. Schwan came with a piece of paper in her hand, waving it high.
"I've got a letter for you, Seth!" she called, smiling. I rushed forward to read the letter. It was from Jason this time. I creased my brow to read the writing better as I begin to read:
I have good news for you! June 7th we're coming to visit. By we I mean Aunt Milly, (and her little one in her belly!) Sydney, and I. Won't it be great? Have you met those teenagers I told you about yet? You know, Derek and Jamie? I want to know when you meet Jamie. Don't ask why. If you have already met her, you already know.
P.S. Sydney's tooth is loose. She said she wanted you to pull it....
At the last line, I chuckled. I also chuckled on the part about Jamie. Me and Jason might fight like cats and dogs, but totally got another....
"Who's Sydney?" asked Jamie, peering over my shoulder, on her highest tiptoes. I jerked the letter down before she could read any more.
"My little sister," I choked, not realizing Jamie was that close.
Jamie smiled at my reaction. Dr. Schwan coughed, and Jamie backed down flat footed.
"June 7, isn't that Monday?" I asked Dr. Schwan, trying to make them forget my nervousness I had felt a moment ago.
"Yes, yes it is.... two days from now," she answered. If you didn't know, today is Saturday, June 5.
"I'll get to see your little sister Monday?" Jamie smiled from ear to ear.
"What she like?"
"She's six, very sweet and lovable, thoughtful, and she laughs a lot," I smiled, thinking of my little sister.
"What she look like?"
"She has my color eyes, the cutest curly brown ringlets of hair...."
And Jamie Lauren and I spent the afternoon talking about Sydney.
That night as I crawled into bed, I opened my Bible and turned to the middle. I had stuck Sydney's drawing of our family in there. I clutched the picture as if my life depended on it. I traced over my father's face. When he had first died, I had been mad at him. How could he just leave us like that? Him and Momma got married when they were 16. They dropped out of school and got jobs, then Momma had me at 17. They were really young. I couldn't imagine getting married right now! Him and Momma had always had a ruff go at life. This is why Momma wants me to get a college education, or at least high school, she said. I flipped through my worn Bible and found a verse that reminded me of that little brown curly top back home.
Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:4
The next day was Sunday. I didn't know if Mrs. Barnett and the obnoxious company she had (cough, cough, Jamie) went to Sunday School or church. But I thought I knew the answer when I woke up the next morning to see breakfast on the table and Jamie in her Sunday's best...
She wore a cotton sundress, plaid with gentle red and the shade of brown matching her eyes colored stripes. Her hair was up in a messy bun with a silver barrette. Simple, but stunning. I stood in the doorway for a minute, gazing at her.
A couple seconds passed by and she looked up from stirring the gravy, already sat on the table. She saw my gaze and blushed, which added to her beauty.
Wait! Jamie Lauren blushed. Wow.
"You...look....amazing," I finally managed to get out.
She smiled, and for the first time, I realized she had dimples.
"How are you lovebirds this morning?" asked Derek, streching and yawning as he came into the kitchen.
Jamie gave him a hard look. "I'm not in love," Jamie protested. Derek giggled. Not the girly sorta giggle, but the deep, husky giggle that matched his voice.
"I'll take Mrs. Barnett her plate," I murmured, jumping up out of bed.
"Good morning, Seth!" smiled Mrs. Barnett as I walked into her room.
"Good morning," I smiled.
"Vera is coming to dress me for church," smiled Mrs. Barnett. It took me a minute to realize Vera was Dr. Schwan.
I smiled. "Speaking of which, I better get ready." Mrs. Barnett smiled back.
"Jamie's awful sharp looking this morning."
I sighed. "Not you too."
Mrs. Barnett had a glow about her when she said this sentence. "You just wait."
I scrambled out of her room to get dressed.
An hour later, all of us (Jamie, Derek, Mrs. Barnett, Dr. Schwan, even Gemma and lastly me) stood on the rickety steps of Pippa Passes Church. As I walked in, I met the pastor and he looked delighted to see me.
"You're Mrs. Barnett's farmhand?" he asked, smiling. I nodded. I guessed that around here Mrs. Barnett is really popular. Everyone refers to me as her new farmhand at the first meet.
"Well, I hope you enjoy your stay here at Pippa Passes," he smiled, shaking my hand.
I was still shocked about Dr. Schwan in regular churchclothes, instead of her regular sixties-biking attire. There are some peculiar characters in Pippa Passes. The sheriff included.
The service went by in a blur. There were a million things jumbled in my head.
1. The mysterious person that harmed Mrs. Barnett2. Milly's baby.... I don't know if I have told you this yet, but every time Milly get pregnant she loses her baby.
3. My family's visit tommorrow. I coudn't wait to see Syd.... and maybe even Jason.
4. I've only been gone for a week...... how in the Good Lord's creation could I manage another week?
I only payed attention when the preacher said the closing verse.
"The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms. This is what the Bible says in Deuteronomy. So, the weary people in this church, remember these words as you walk out the door today." The preacher finished and the Congregation began singing "Amazing Grace." Somehow, the Lord knows how to tug on my heartstrings. I saw Mrs. Barnett dab her eyes with her hankerchief, but quickly looked away, embarrassed. As Jamie and I started to walk out of the church, we talked a little bit.
"I thought that his last verse was a bit confusing," Jamie admitted. The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms, I repeated in my head.
"I think it means God has open arms, no matter what we're going through," I said. Jamie smiled.
Later, back at the Barnett residence, we all sat down to a great Sunday dinner, compliments of Jamie and Dr. Schwan (they wouldn't let Mrs. Barnett lift a finger). As I layed in bed that night, I thanked the good Lord up above for the blessings he has given me.
The next morning I arose late. I jerked my clothes on and ran out of the bedroom in time to see a car pull up the driveway going 90 miles an hour. I would've sworn it was Jamie Lauren driving; but it was Milly's car.
Its Monday! I thought. That's the day Sydney, Jason, and Milly are coming! I could feel the corners of my mouth perk up immeadiately. Jamie came busting out of the kitchen to the living room, where I was located at.
"They're here! They're here! They're here!" she shouted. Derek came busting through the back kitchen door and through the kitchen to the living room. Dr. Schwan and Gemma followed.
"What's all this ruckus about?" asked Dr. Schwan. She was no longer in her Sunday's best; instead, she was in her usual.... very unusual attire again.
"Well, in case you didn't remember, Mrs. Barnett and Seth's kin are coming in today. And...." she said with her tan hands on her hips," they have arrived."
A smile (a scary one) came across Jamie's cherry red lips. Then Jason came busting in through the door.
"JASON!" I yelled, running across the room to hug him. I picked him up and swung him around, as if he were 6.
"I missed you too," he murmured.
"Bubby!" yelled Sydney, running straight for my arms as soon as I sat Jason down. I scooped her up and gave her a peck on the cheek, all the while she was giggling.
"You're cute as your Bubby said you would be," laughed Jamie, coming over to hug Syd. Sydney just blushed and smiled sweetly.
Dr. Schwan, Gemma, and Derek seemed to be in the background during all of this, so I called them over.
"I like your skirt," Sydney smiled, talking about Dr. Schwan's poodle skirt. I almost died on the spot, but Dr. Schwan just smiled back.
"My name is Dr. Vera Schwan, but you can call me Vere," Dr. Schwan told Sydney.
"I'm Sydney," Syd announced to everyone in the room. Mrs. Barnett came through the house as Milly entered. Milly had that glow....
"Well, come on in, take off your shoes," smiled Mrs. Barnett.
"We brought Dairy Queen for breakfast," Jason proudly announced.
"Great! I forgot to make breakfast this morning," Jamie seemed to be bursting with happiness.
Sydney seemed to like Jamie. "Have you ever made friendship bracelets?"
Jamie smiled. "We can make some after breakfast."