By Celia Jolley
A Long Short Story, Just for Fun Fiction
"...The Lord is in his holy temple,
the Lord's throne is in heaven:
his eyelids try, the children of men."
verses 1& 4
Their father's family had made it clear that they wanted nothing to do with them fearing that her ma would demand hand-outs. Evidently every one of them were barely squeaking by in spite of the rumors that Grandpa Ebenezer had taken his money out of the bank before it collapsed and had it buried somewhere in his yard. He wasn't willing to dig any up soon, not even for his forsaken grandkids.
They wove past the car where a woman with a fur coat sat with her child. Sarah thought of her mother's threadbare wool coat. Their car was further back. It was hard to walk the narrow aisle with their belongings bumping along. However, the train wasn't very full since so few people could afford tickets during the Great Depression.
too. It was chilly. The fall mountain air had a bite to it, a crisp one, that soon had her wide awake.
The very next day, ma kept her promise and taught Jed how to shoot. His aim was still way off but he'd learn. One thing for certain, he'd have a sore shoulder the next day. Still Sarah begged her ma to allow her a turn. She'd listened carefully to all her ma's instruction.
"Best hold it like this unless you want it to kick you like a mule, baby girl." Her mama hadn't called her that in an age of Sundays, and here she was ready to shoot a rifle. The sound echoed off into the hills. At least Sarah came closer to the target than her little brother.
"When I do send you two to town, I'll need you to get lots more ammunition so you can practice. We will be depending on you to be able to hit your mark if we are going to eat this winter," their mama said.
"Yes, ma'am," Sara and Jed chimed in unison while grinning. It was still a game to them, not yet a struggle to bring down food for the family.
"I'm making a list and think it'd be best if you two go to town to the store tomorrow first thing. Just tell Mr. Perkins you are Annie's kids, and he'll treat you fair. He probably already will know who you are as soon as you step foot in his mercantile. Word of our arrival has lit up these hills, I imagine."
"Do you want me to shoot if any of those young bucks come around Sarah," Jed teased.
"Don't even joke about it," their mama scowled. Don't ever point a gun at a person, howsoever, unless you might have a need to shoot 'em. I pray to God that will never happen, son. Just carrying the weapon is a statement you are making. You shouldn't have any trouble as long as you carry your rifle and don't go up to someone's place without hollering first like your Uncle Skinner did."
"Yes, ma'am," he said chastised.
"He can carry the rife on the way in, but I'm going to carry it on the way back while Jed handles most of the groceries," Sarah said in spite of her brother's groan.
"It'll build your muscles, son. Next Spring we'll have the mule you can ride to town, and it will make the trip easier," their ma encouraged him.
The trip walking back to town was much more pleasant than the first time they walked home. Sarah was only nervous about meeting new faces while Jed was jabbering about finding friends like they would somehow melt out of the woods to come greet him. Sarah picked up pretty leaves as she walked, not to keep, but just to enjoy for the moment.
Once they entered the dusky store, Mr. Perkins spit his tobacco into a can with a ping and welcomed them. "I heard tell you was here," the old man said. "Fancy that. It's a pity that your grannie never got to see you though. She sure was proud of y'all just hearing about you from your letters. I see you got your mama's beauty, young lady."
"Thank you, sir. Here's the list of what mama needs," she added. Jed was already looking at the display of ammunition.
"I'll get what yer need here, but have a look-see on the shelves jest so you know what all's here to tell your ma about," the storekeeper said.
Suddenly, a sound registered in Sarah's thoughts and realized it was a typewriter. Jed just burst out, "What's that sound? We heard it the morning we got here."
"It's that dad-burned stranger we got out back. He about drives me crazy. It's like having a woodpecker nest in my head. Says he's a writer up here for inspire-run. I wish it was for expirin' howsomever," he growled.
A shiver went up Sarah's back just thinking about her dream on the train. Did she have the gift of dreams like her grannie had? The pecking just made her more curious than ever in spite of Uncle Skinner's warning. Then it stopped.
At the same time she felt the need to find the necessary and whispered in her brother's ear to have him ask the man where one was available. She slipped out and went around back to find it. Just as she was about to open the door, a man stepped out. It froze her as still as a doe when a twig snaps.
He was tan with brown hair bleached a little by the sun, young-ish, not old-ish, and quite good looking, as handsome a man as Sarah'd ever laid eyes on. She stood rooted to her spot with wide eyes staring.
The man seemed to be just as flabbergasted as she, but found his voice first after looking her up and down. "I haven't seen you before. Are you new here? Excuse my manners. I'm Henry Coleman. I'd shake your hands, but my hands are dirty."
"I'm Sarah Robinson. We just came back to my mama's homeplace. Are you the one with the typewriter?" She couldn't help but be curious.
"Yes, that's me, the one driving every one as crazy as bats out of ...well, you know. That's about as welcome as I get around here. They let me alone, however, so it's peaceful enough for my liking." He looked her over again, all of her, then stopped caught her eyes. "There's all kinds of beauty here," he said as he quirked a smile that seemed radiant to Sarah causing her to blush furiously.
"Sarah, you be talking to that stranger out there? Do I need to bring the rifle," Jed hollered.
"That's my brother. Please excuse me," she whispered embarrassed by her brother and by having been caught needing to use the necessary as she stepped around him to open its door. The man didn't move for a moment as she brushed passed him.
"No, please excuse me," he said as he finally stepped back. It was nice to meet you Sarah. That's more visiting than I've had in a month. Folks here don't seem to want to talk to me much."
She only nodded then went in and latched the door hoping he wasn't still standing there when she came out. It was too humiliating. What an embarrassing way to meet the most interesting and handsomest man she'd ever seen. She wanted to growl, but was afraid he'd hear her. Mr. Coleman was standing on his porch, leaning up against a post. He just waved as she walked back by. Sarah nodded once in his direction, and scurried past before her brother came after her.