New Stories for 3/30/2015
Calling Bitsey Ashton a square peg in a round hole would be like saying the Titanic was a motorboat that sprang a leak. Bitsey is more like a trapezoid with razor edges, capable of drilling herself into any hole of any shape no matter how big or little. She’s now middle aged with grown daughters. At least the daughters think they’re grown; Bitsey is not so sure about her youngest, Molly, a brand new freshman at Mississippi University for Women on the Gulf Coast. Big sister Jamie Lew married Abdul Taylor and is living in New Orleans. Those sharp edges of Bitsey’s have been sanded smooth by hard times and tragedy—most devastating, the loss of her son, Justin.
She can fool most people into believing she’s just like a normal person, which has proven to be a blessing to her husband, Malcolm; but there are times when he wishes she’d get a little of her edge back.
Bitsey poked her head out of her mother’s womb two weeks prematurely on Christmas day, 1966.
“Your duty is making sure Mrs. Brandon is well cared for,” said Agnes. “There is a pain in her body that grows worse everyday.”
“Does she not see a physician?” I asked. I tucked my wooden suitcase under my arm and sped up, trying to keep up with her.
“She saw dozens,” she answered. “They can’t cure her. She requires medication.”
Being new as the Brandon family’s maid, I should’ve wrote all of this down, but I was too mesmerized by Agnes’ gray braided hair swinging like a handle of a grandfather’s clock.
“And Mr. Brandon?” I asked. “Does he require anything?”
Agnes turned around. She stared at me and took my luggage. “Privacy. Only focus on caring for Mrs. Brandon for now.” She continued walking. “Once Mr. Brandon gets use to you then you’ll be in charge of the house chores, and I’ll finally retire to be with my grandchildren.”
I stopped when I saw a framed painting on the wall. It was a portrait of a black-haired woman wearing a pink dress. The woman’s blushing face was smoothly pale.
“Who’s this?” I asked.
“Mary. Mrs. Brandon,” answered Agnes as she exited down the hall and into another.
I compared my old yellow floral dress to Mary’s. I pulled my shoulders back and straighten my spine. I wished I were beautiful and elegant like her.
“Get out of your car” should be the first Commandment of summers in the Pacific Northwest.
Local gems, wonders and treats are out there, but you’ll miss most of them if you don’t get out to see, hear and sometimes taste them.
Tacoma has many distant vistas that dazzle visitors, but a much closer – and slower – look has its own rewards.
Tacoma has a rich history expressed in its building and parks.
I’ve seen posters of doorways – Doorways of Dublin for example, but Tacoma has a treasure of unique, crafted front doors and porches – particularly attractive and interesting in the summer when plants are out and flowers and gardens are in bloom.
Home and building design and history are other attractions.
- Three years old. Nap time for Jeff and me, seventh and sixth of seven, in my parents’ bedroom, the never-finished garage on the blueprints. Bare studs, concrete floor, some stick-on blue shag carpet tiles curling at the corners, a sheet hung on a line forming a crude anteroom between the kitchen door and the bedroom.
Jeff and I are one person, known as The Boys, so rarely called by name it comes out jumbled as Grjeff or Jreg. The big kids say, “The Boys did it” to get themselves out of trouble without having to say a name.
My older brothers and sisters, CarrollLynnConnieNormSylvia, are in school but we are too young. Jeff is two with light brown curly hair. We are stripped to underwear for sleeping.
Mother is slim, curvy, petite, hazel eyes, and a cloud of wavy auburn hair. She wears a fake-satin pink nightgown with tiny little flowers along the collar. All of us under the covers of the white knotted bedspread, one boy to a side, we sing the Mother Song.
Who loves their Mother, who?
Who loves their Mother?