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You Didn't Hear It From Me
By Gail L Deemer
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Rated "G" by the Author.
Story told only in dialogue--in this case, monologue. A bit rough here and there. Grammar and spelling errors are due to regional dialect.
“I was there when their youngest was born,” Keiri nodded sagely. “I seen her face when the midwife said it was a boy. She weren’t happy about it at all. She wanted a girl after all those boys but it weren’t not to be. Shoulda saw the husband’s face when I told him he had a boy, thought he’d at least be happy since he’d have another hand to help out around the place. But he was sad too since he wanted a girl for his wife. After eight boys, he thought it only fair she have someone to help her with the cooking and such.
"T’was a sad day for that young boy. Seems like they rode him harder than they did the others. Couldn’t do nothing right, that child couldn’t. Always talked about him as if he weren’t in the room. As if he hadn’t no brains at all. The other boys, seems like they could do nothing wrong. They worked harder, chopped more wood, hoed a straighter line and married the prettiest women.
"Ain’t no wonder that child turned out the way he did. Don’t understand how people can treat their children that way and not even see what they do to them. I tried to make her see what she were doing the one day, it was a--what’s the word people from the palace use-oh yeah, unfair comparisioning between the other boys and the youngest one, but she didn’t see it, almost took a broom to me she was so mad. Don't make no sense to treat a youngun so.
"And they don’t understand why this boy--sorry, this man-- wants nothing to do with them? I say they had it coming to them. Understand this is only between you and me Myrtle...I don’t want it getting back to them. Just because they’re sick and getting feebler by the minute don’t mean they still ain’t got the reach. Molly was saying to me the other dayas how she had to go over to their place and apologize to them for something she supposedly said. Course she told me how she practically had to bend over and kiss that woman’s situpon just to get her name off the gossip list.
"Remember you didn’t hear this from me. Both our situpon’s will be the worse for wear should anyone find out. I’ve already been on that list too many times and sitting in the square with that lying sign saying as how I’m a gossip and not being able to say anything at all for days, well...I don’t plan to be on it again. Humiliating, I’m telling ya.
"Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, it’s no wonder that boy turned out the way he did. They called him lazy, stupid, ungrateful and a whole lot more untrue words. I said to his mamma once they would regret not treating him any better than what they did. That’s when she broomed me! I couldn’t believe she’d do that to a friend and said so. Would you believe she had the gall to tell me we weren’t friends and ain't never been? Well that's fine by me. I have better things to do than try and help someone who would treat me like that. Hmmph.
"So, when that boy turns up at our place, scratching at the door--in the middle of a blizzard, mind you--me and the mister were more than happy to take him in. You remember how old was he then? Let me think. Seems like he were around nine or ten if I’m remembering right. Anyway, he tells us, once we get him warmed up and some food in that skinny frame of his, his dad told to get out cause of something he did—don't matter what it was, he was always in trouble—so he thought to himself that might be the best for all seeing as he probably wouldn’t get missed anyhow.
"You know it took them months before they started looking for him. She said they started looking for him right away but me and the mister we knew better. I didn’t say a word to that piss-poor mother of his where he was. I know we all say that we bring them into this world so we have the right to take them back out again, but there’s nothing in there about sending them out in the bitter cold.
"So, we waited to see how long it would take them to claim him. About time for spring planting they remembered they had another set of hands to help. Well, weren’t they surprised when they came to get him and he claimed rite of passage. He looked it up in the Councilmen’s books. If’n a child is put out of his home in the winter and survives that child, be it male or female, may claim rite of passage. I'm saying it word-for-word. Seems he liked to go to the Council House and read their books--got away from those people, so it did.
"You remember how he stayed with us all the rest of his growing years? He learned how valuable a person he really is. We told him every day how special he was. Ain't many people, young or old, can survive a blizzard night in the middle of the cold season. Anyways that’s what we told him, cause it were the truth.
"So come the day for his ascension to manhood, he tells my Uni he wants him to stand in his father’s place, not his dad. You remember how they looked, my Uni and this handsome young man? Took my breath away, so it did. I remember thinking that it didn’t seem right that Uni should stand up with the young man who isn’t his son. Then I remembered all those two had done together and all the laughing and yelling and thrashing they gave each other, I thought to myself, ‘Keiri, you know it’s only right,’ and this time I had to agree with myself.
"So, there we all were, the boy almost a man, my Uni, me and half the village and in walks his so-called parents as if they had any right to be there after all they did to him. I remember thinking, ‘Serves them right if he kicks them out on their situpons', but I didn’t say anything. It were his moment an I didn't want to ruin for him.
I were so disappointed when he didn’t kick them out though they had to sit in the back away from everyone else. I wanted so bad to broom her situpon right out the door like she did to me, but since he looked so happy and proud standing there, I pretended I didn’t care she tried to take him back after all these years.
"Wasn’t the ceremony just so lovely? I’d brought an extra hanky with me, figured I would need it and I was right. Uni kept looking back and giving me that ‘shut up’ look. You know the one I’m talking about? Yeah that one. When the Councilman proclaimed him a man with all a man’s privileges, we both felt a flash of pride raise our heads a bit more higher. I know it did it to him cause I seen him raise his head a bit just as I did mine.
"They tried, one more time, to talk with him. They came up front afterwards elbowing people aside as they pushed through the crowd around him. The people in the crowd, well they were all for sending them away, maybe with more than a new bruise or two themselves but he would have none of it. Not our boy, he wouldn’t. Never seen such a nicer boy. I’m taking a bit of responsible for that myself and for my Uni but anyway this man, well, you seen it and heard it as well since I seen you in the crowd myself. Sorry about that elbow in your back. I thought you was her and well...you know what I did...
"I never in a million years woulda guessed this young man woulda said to them what he did. He lets them get in near him then gathers up me and Uni and says, ‘Congratulate these two people, my mamma and my pappa for raising such a fine man’. When they start to protest as to how he belonged to them, he reminded them of that cold winter night and how they didn't look for him or came to see if he were all right. Even though his mamma said she didn’t want to kick him out, she shoulda at least come around to find him and make sure he were still alive and in good health.
"They had the nerve to fire me because I didn’t tell him where he were at even though he were living with me and Uni. Why should I tell them anything when I could see they weren’t looking for him anyway. She and me, we were alone many times during the day, not once did she asked me if I knew where he were. Didn't even bother to speak of him at all. Then she had the nerve to claim I were in the wrong for not speaking up.... Seemed to me it weren’t my place to speak up if she didn’t want to know in the first place.
"So he says that to him and they leave. I almost felt sorry for her when he said that. I could see the tears in her eyes and that she were mighty hurt over it but I remembered how much he were hurt that night he scratched on our doorcover. Then I remembered we might not have heard him scratching had he come any later since we had just gotten into bed for the night. Uni,ya know, he snores so loud you can hear him in the Council House.
"She tried going to the Council about it but this time they sided with him about it. Said seeing as how they’d been keeping an eye on him ( the first we’d heard of it) and they’d never heard a word about them looking after him, that we could lawfully claim him as our born son if’n it were right between us three. Oh happiness! It were the first day we could legally claim him as ours. It were a wonder he didn’t take it back since we took so many opportunities the next day to say ‘son’ to him.
"Yeah, it were such a happy day for all of us. All their boys they moved away from here and said they ain't moving back. Now, they want their youngest back...we think not! Our son (it still sounds so good to say it...our son) he says to them they didn’t want him to begin with and treated him as such. He wants nothing more to do with them. They been claiming something about seeing siikers in their area but everyone knows there ain't been a siiker seen around here in the past twenty years, so they gotta be making it up. One sqeaking wheel indeed. The way that man snores, so she told me, there ain't no way either one of them could hear anything above that ruckus.
"So now--there’s Uni calling for me. I’d like to stay and chat some more but it’s getting late. He wants to get as far as we can so we can get a place to stay before sunup. comes. Yeah, I know there ain't been a sighting in years, but my Uni, he doesn’t want to take any chances. He has some kinfolk up there in the East Mountains his dad used to talk about and he wants to see if he can find them. To let them know about their brother, well, if they managed to survive the riots after the city grids went out.
"Stop by soon and I’ll make you a cup of something to drink and we’ll sit and talk. I promise the next time, I’ll let you do most of the talking.
"See ya later, take care. Give that little girl of yours a big hug and kiss from her Auntie Keiri."
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