“Where have you been young lady?” demanded Mama.
“I was just runnin’ in the fields.” whispered Mary, staring at the ground.
Mama saw her holding Donny Jr.’s hand. I went and picked up Davy who was playing in the corner. “Donny Jr. wasn’t with you, was he?”
“No ma’am.” She lied.
“Donny were you with Mary just now in the fields?”
We shot him penetrating looks, hoping he’d get the message, “No, Ma’am. I was out playin with Rascal in the yard.”
I gently swayed Davy on my hip as the wind rattled our windows, hopin Mama would buy his story. She eyed us all suspiciously, but decided to let it go for now.
“Donny go wash up. Then come out here and set the table for dinner. Girls get some beans on the stove and heat up that chicken from last night.” She went back to her program.
I handed Davy to Mama, who put him back on the floor. I followed Mary into the kitchen and washed my hands. The space was hardly big enough for the two of us at the same time, but we had developed a method. If one of us had to open a cabinet or the oven then the other would step out to move. We didn’t even have to tell each other we just knew. When Donny Jr. got back from washin up in the bath room we had all the table stuff out for him.
Mary was workin the beans open with a can opener while the oven heated. Just as we were puttin some cream corn in a pot, Donny Sr. came in the door. Even though he wasn’t our real dad, me and Mary called him Pop all the same, he liked that. I could tell he was in a mood when he came in cause he threw his coat on the couch and didn’t even say hi to Mama. A frown cover his whole bearded face as he sat down to pull off his boots.
“Why is there chew marks on our hose in the front?!” He demanded gruffly. I looked up to watch this exchange.
“Donny Jr. was playin with Rascal out in the yard. He was probably tuggin with him again.” replied Mama.
“The neighbor’s pain in the ass dog? I thought they were gonna keep him tied up now?”
Mama shrugged, lookin up at me. I quietly narrowed my eyes back at the corn and stirred rapidly. Mary was doin the same with the beans next to me even though they were done and the heat was off. We avoided each other’s gazes.
“Donny Jr. I told you not to play with that dog in front of the house alread. He is a no good son of a bitch, that is always makin mischief. Now I gotta buy another new hose. We don’t have any spare money.” Donny Sr. began to unbuckle his belt. I perched over the counter grimacing. I knew what was coming. Now, Donny Jr. might have been playin with Rascal, but when I found him he was with Mary and no matter which way I thought it, I didn’t think he deserved a whippin. I did the only thing I knew, I stepped in front of Donny Jr. just as he cowered and Pop’s belt came down. It landed right across my thighs; I had learned long ago that the less faces you made and the less that you let on it hurt the less whippin you got.
“Girl, what the hell are you doing?! Now get out of my way before you get it good. This is DJ’s punishment.”
“No. It ain’t fair he didn’t do nothin wrong, ‘cept play with rascal.” I stood there in front of our cheaply set, fold out kitchen table, the florescent bulb hanging above me burning through my passionate glares. I barely had time to react cause I didn’t even see the hand coming it moved so fast, but I heard it collide with my cheek. I knew there would be another mark on my face I’d have to lie about come morning.
“I do not tolerate back talk in this house hold Evangeline, is that understood?”
“Yes, sir.” I shook my head but showed no emotion because that would mean defeat. “May I be excused? I’m not hungry and dinner is ready.” My mother seemed to magically find her voice again.
“Yes, go on now.” I ran off back to my bedroom which I shared with my sister and brother. The baby slept in the room with my parents. I sat on the bottom bunk of the broken down old bunk bed I shared with my sister. I stared at our blank white walls, wishing once again, I was in Neverland, instead of this dumpy old house with parents who didn’t give a rat’s tail about me or my siblings.
This is going to be a much longer piece, eventually. It is a fictionalized story based on the true events of my mother’s life. She is the main character Evangeline (Evy). Of course everyone’s name has been changed.