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Down on the farm

Down on the farm
Out of the woods.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

A Minute at the End of Love

Robby swept the light bulbs right off the dining table  and growled at me when I came in. I hung onto a chair, buggy eyed and scared by this odd behavior. Robby's eyes were red like from crying, but big brothers give piggy back rides, they never get mad and never, ever ever ever cry. His mother shushed him, saying something about little girls not being to blame for what big people did.
I had been at the Miller's house for two days. That wasn't unusual, Susie was my very best friend in the whole world. In the first week of the first grade she pulled me off the school steps and into the game she was playing. Her whole name was Brenda Sue Millard and she was right in the middle of the family. Her big sister, Letha was a senior in high school, Robby was 14, Brenda Sue was 8, then Billy who was 5 and Patsy who was 3. I liked to pretend that the Millards were my own family. Robby was the perfect big brother and I thought he liked me. The idea of Robby hating me made my tummy roll. I ran into the bathroom to throw up.   Susie followed me in. Accustomed to sick siblings she wiped my face with a wash cloth and patted my back, shushing, patting  and tsking me.
When we returned the glass was cleaned up and Robby had gone, to work, to practice, to somewhere else. Outside with the neighborhood kids we raced around the yard playing cowboys and rustlers and Indians. The morning scare was forgotten for the time being.  Mom picked me up just as we were starting to have fun.
A few weeks later my parents announced that we were moving again. We were going to Minnesota, two whole states away on the map. Mrs. Watson showed us on the big pull down map. She even drew a line along the road leading away from home so we could see how far it was. On the last day of third grade, Mrs. Watson, the best teacher ever in the whole wide world, pronounced that Susie and I were "best friends forever", but it didn't help. I wanted to stay, never to move again.
I was much older before I learned that my father's affair with a Millard sister in law had led to the suicide of a cousin just a year older than Robby the night before the light bulbs smashed on the dining room floor.
Sometimes we  get to understand what happens, just as the grownups tell us we will.