"this is not the south," they say. "this is where you come to die when you've got nothing left."
it's on the barrel end of a shotgun that ridley remembers this. his mother-- coarse and unaffected by the rest of the world --had uttered it, the pointy end(more) of carving fork aimed somewhere near the heart of a man he soon grew to know as his father.
"you git on outta here and i'll leave you be," skunk says.
"i just want to know where abi is."
"abi?" he lowers the barrel of the gun slightly, eyes pointedly confused underneath the bushy furrow of his eyebrows. "i hadn't seen her."
"then you gotta know i don't want to fight, skunk," ridley takes a few steps back, stumbling over frozen ridges of snow and the thick roots of a nearby tree. "i don't wanna fight with yah."
"fight?" the gun lowers entirely, and ridley breathes a hiccuping sigh of relief. "i'm not gonna fight yah, foster, just don't want yah stumbling around somewhere you don't belong."
ridley stares. the use of his first name is a strange, awful reminder of the people here-- the people that refuse to move on, grinding themselves to dust on stones they're too stubborn to move because they feel it's someone else's right to do it for them.
skunk frowns, a speculative glance travelling up the length of ridley's body and down again. "done called you foster, didn't i?"
"yes, sir," he mutters. his throat feels papery and dry. his palms sweat.
"sorry about that," a smile peeks at his mouth, but it dies a little too quickly. "you know how time gets on yah-- won't leave yah alone."
ridley's skin feels too tight. he imagines skunk's hands on him, and the bruises burn.(less)
Lacy walked through the door and announced shrilly to the empty kitchen, "Mom, Pumpkin's alive again!" The sound of rummaging in the laundry room paused and her mother yelled back to her through the walls, "Lacey, is that you?" Lacy dropped her books on the floor and skipped do(more)wn the hall, turning left into the tiny cubby where her mother was folding clothes. "Pumpkin's alive again and wants to come inside." Her mother stood and wrapped her arms around her daughter. "Lacy, Pumpkin's in heaven. Remember, we buried her under the tree in the little ring box? She's in goldfish heaven swimming in the clouds."
Lacy looked hard into her Mother's face. "No. Pumpkin is under the tree, right now, and she needs water. She has to come inside, right now." Her mother sighed, and before she could speak, Lacey had run down the hall and into the bathroom. She heard her daughter turn the taps and a torrent of water began splashing into the tub. "Lacey! What are---" Lacey raced back to her and pulled her by the hand with fierce insistence, almost yanking her. "I'm going to show you mommy. She's gotten real big."
Lacy led her mother out the kitchen door and toward the red maple in the corner of the yard. As they got nearer, Lacy's mother could see something about the size of basketball, round and panting amid the fallen leaves at the base of the tree. "See, mommy." Lacey pointed at the gasping thing and her mother's mouth fell open in disbelief. Pumpkin, or whatever it was now, lay half in half out of the soil, its distended black eyes seeming to meet the stare of its former caretakers. The creature spoke in what sounded like a horrible, croaking plea: "wawa.....wawa...wawa..."
She's perched on a park bench, staring down at her boots and trying to feel nothing but the rain that hits her skin. Her thoughts are trained on everything else, and she doesn't notice her visitor until he speaks.
She looks up, and he stands over her with(more) a black umbrella in hand. His hair glistens damp, and he has a hand tucked in a coat pocket casually. She smiles up at him, something of courtesy that doesn't meet her eyes. "Hello."
"Mind if I sit?"
She shakes her head no. He sits, and they sit alone. He offers his umbrella over her, and she takes the offer gratefully. He says nothing, because he knows her too well, and they sit still for a while with nothing but the symphony of rain to fill the silence.
"We broke up," she tells him. "Last night. I dumped her and moved out."
He's silent for a moment, a boiling swirl of thoughts, he's always been like that. There's no comfort or pity offered, so she forces it out of him by coaxing herself on his shoulder. He tenses, then rests his cheek on her head.
And she's transported to another time suddenly, when she was young and naive and falling in love with some brooding street kid, falling asleep on each other in the park under the tree--she can see that tree from where she sits--and she's hit with a pang of nostalgia. She wipes a tear from her cheek, but it's not for her--it's for him. And she knows he feels it too when he clasps her hand in his large, gloved one, and they stay there in the rainy night, trying to go back to another time.(less)
We buried our memories under the tree, because the body was buried good and proper in a cemetery plot, under a tombstone.
Martha buried a tea cup, the one that Melissa always used when she'd visit the old woman on her back porch. She would sit for hour(more)s with Martha and talk about everything. White china decorated with twisted pink roses contrasted the wet, smudged earth of the hole we'd dug.
David put his favorite hacky sack into the hole, tossing it in with a thud next to the tea cup. He taught Melissa how to play a few years ago, so he figured it was as much hers as his.
Rhonda added a worn out book called "The Perks of Being a Wallflower." When we asked her why she shook her head and broke into tears, so I never figured out what the importance of that book was.
I was new to Melissa's life. I didn't have many memories with her at the time of her death. So I buried some seeds. That summer the memories were covered in a small patch of Forget-Me-Nots.
I went back five years after we buried her and now there's a whole field 'round that tree. (less)