It was Sunday again. She knew not because she could follow days, but because after feeding the chickens, Auntie insisted she take a bath.
It was a new thing, bathing herself alone; she was only a small girl.
Life was different now. Her Mama had gone away to someplace far, called Florida. Daddy said she would never be back.
Auntie had come to live in the little house because she was a widow- woman, alone. Sometimes she seemed strange with her black clothes and strict rules. She knew things like no one else did. People sent for her when someone was sick, or babies came, or people left this living.
She was mean at times, telling the little girl, “If you don’t behave, your Mama woman will come and take you away from here, and you will see your Daddy no more.” Tears and sobs would torment Hope because she loved her Daddy and Bubba more than all the things, including her one baby doll. She had night terrors of being snatched by the bad woman and taken away.
After she bathed in the tub of cold well water, Auntie pushed her dress, underwear, and shoes into her arms. She was careful in putting them on just right because Auntie was handy with a switch.
Soon Daddy, dressed in black, except his white shirt and the gray tie he wore, said it was time to begin the long walk to the church. It was dry now, so the road threw up little spurts of red dust as they strode along.
When they reached the bridge over the creek, Hope cried and wrapped herself, best she could around her Daddy’s legs; he could keep her safe from the harm of falling or being taken away.
Daddy reached down and effortlessly took her in his arms. Since the child could walk, she had been terribly afraid of falling through the cracks in the bridge. Now it was compounded by nightmares and his sister’s stories her mother might step out of the woods and steal her.
Auntie screeched, “You should put that child down and make her walk. You are spoiling her. She will turn out to be no good at all.”
Daddy looked at her, saying, “But she is only three, and she needs to learn love is a safe place, a safe person, she can trust when she is frightened. Hush up now; you are not the one supporting her weight. She is my precious Hope; she has lost a lot, it is okay that I carry her. Mind yourself, don’t be so cold-hearted.”
© Jo Ann J. A. Jordan
I rarely tell stories, this one is based on reality. The little girl is my Mom.