Eidetic Sunshine

Eidetic Sunshine

Friday, July 25, 2014

Chapter 2


A pouty young girl’s voice said, “Aw Danny … I was gonna …” 

“Whatever you were gonna can wait until you have a day off; it’s chore time and these sheets aren’t going to wash themselves.  Mr. Maddox expects good work for letting us leave the RV in the back and have that land back there for our personal use.” 

“Why can’t we rent a room like Elise and her family does?  Why do we have to grub for every little thing?  The RV is old and it smells and all your stupid plants do is get in the way and …” 

Getting tired of the whining Danny decided to let Elise have it with both barrels.  “Because both of her parents have good jobs working at the weigh station and because her older brother is still around to help by throwing in his pay too.  It takes three people making scrip to pay the monthly rent and all of their expenses to live at the tavern full time like that.  And they still wouldn’t be able to afford it if her parents didn’t barter the leftover scraps where things get unloaded at the weigh station.  If Elise’s mom didn’t work they could get a little rental on the other side of the ramp in a better part of town and make do.  Instead they’d rather spend more and hire everything out including the laundry, cooking, and cleaning so that Elise’s mother can work.  Makes no sense to me and no wonder Elise is growing up like she is.  Why you want to hang around with a girl that doesn’t do anything but rub your nose in how rich she is I don’t know.” 

“She don’t either!” 

“And what do you call what she was doing yesterday?  She was teasing you for having to do chores when she doesn’t.  And she was eating that candy and didn’t offer you a single piece.  She’s always making fun of the clothes you wear too and showing off whatever her parents have given her.  She’s even getting on Tanner’s last nerve lately and you know how laid back that brother of hers is.” 

Nita grumbled, “You don’t know nothin’.  If you’d dress nicer you could get a man that would take care of us.” 

Shocked despite herself Danny snapped, “You want me to slap you into next Juvember?  Or do you think telling me I should whore myself out so your life can be easier is something I should let pass.” 

“Don’t be so high and mighty.  Plenty of girls do it.  Delia did it and look how nice she is set up.” 

Up to her elbows in suds Danny was tempted to grab her little sister and run her against the scrub board too.  “Are you being stupid on purpose?!  For one Delia is married, not shacked up.  For two, we don’t know how well she is set up because we’ve never been invited to visit.  She sends you a gift at Christmas and cookies on your birthday and you think she’s rich?   What proof do you have of that?  For three, she might be married but I bet she works her tail off in her in-law’s restaurant.  And I bet she worries like crazy every time her husband and his brother-in-laws take their boat out to bring back fish for the market.” 

“Stop it!  Stop it!” 

“No!  It is time for you to grow up.  This is our life.  It isn’t a great life compared to what some people have but we live it the best way we can and it is a heck of a lot better than going to one of those old poor farms … which is where we will wind up if you don’t stop daydreaming your day away wishing for things that will never be.  There’s also worse things than the poor farm and you’ll wind up in one if you don’t get ahold of your behavior.  Starting with you can forget about bleaching your hair.” 

“Did Joey say something?!  I’ll slap him soooo hard …” 

“You lay one hand on Joey and you’re the one that will get slapped and it won’t be no light tap neither.  One, you’re twelve and don’t need to even be thinking of bleach and make up or boys.  Two, get over it Nita … Juanita … you are always going to be part Spanish and even if you didn’t take after Daddy’s side of the family, Momma had dark hair and eyes too.  You will never be some light skinned, blonde-headed, blue-eye cracker girl.  Never.  Learn to live with who you are and where you come from.” 

Angrily the young girl said, “The teachers up at the school say that we can be anything we want to be.” 

Danny rolled her eyes.  “Don’t be an idiot.  They’re talking about getting some brains and putting them to use.  You can’t change what you are born to be any more than a man can change to be a woman … dress up the outside and pretend all he wants, that still don’t change the inside.  You might be able to hide it for a while but the truth always catches up with you.  You want to wind up doing something besides washing sheets and slinging drinks here at the tavern then find your brain at school and train for a job that will get you out of here.  Stop hanging around girls that think the only way out is to use sex.” 

Snidely Nita told her older sister, “You got brains but you’re still here.” 

“And the reason I’m here Chica is because Eddie and Delia have chosen not to be.  I know what family means even if they forgot.  I remember Daddy saying we had to stay together to be safe and never wander off.  I remember Momma saying we had to look after each other always.  Eddie and Delia …” 

“You’re just jealous,” she spit. 

More tired than she wanted to admit Danny told her, “No Nita, I’m not.  I’m angry.  I don’t begrudge them having a life, but I’m furious they took their shot and just left us to make it on our own with no help.  I was fourteen when Eddie decided he wanted to go off and find himself … whatever that means.  He promised he would send what he could when he could … and we haven’t heard from him since the day he rode away.  Not a letter, card, note, nada.  More than likely all he did was find an early grave … probably an unmarked one so we’ll never know for sure.  So a year later what happens? Delia wants her shot too and answers some stupid ad to marry some guy she’s never even met.  We hear from her twice a year, that’s it.  Even after all her big promises to keep in touch and send for us as soon as she settled in.  If she ain’t settled after three years she ain’t ever going to be settled.  She may have made some money but she is spending it on stupid stuff.  Instead of those silly dresses and dolls she’d be better off sending something useful like shoes or a little bit to put towards yours and Joey’s school tuition.” 

“But …” 

“And while we’re on the subject, you’ll be old enough next month that they won’t arrest me and Tito if you ain’t in school.  And if your grades don’t come up I can guarantee we aren’t going to throw good money after bad and waste the tuition so you can sit around and do nothing all day but get bad grades.  There’s only a couple of months until Tito goes off to the militia and it will be two years after that before he gets a paycheck.  That means I’m all there is between you and getting sent off to an orphanage so if I were you I’d be doing everything I can to make sure that if something happens to me and you are left alone, that you got something besides your looks to work with.” 

“Hey!” 

“Nita, just because you are twelve doesn’t mean you have to be a stupid twelve.  You live behind a tavern.  You see the women that sometimes come out at night and wait down by the road.  Is that really what you want to be?” 

“You are sooooo mean.” 

“Oh yeah, I’m mean all right.  I work from before sun up until well after sun down so you don’t have to.  You get to go to school, have friends your own age, a roof over your head, food in your belly … and a chance to eventually get out of here.  I’m never going to get that chance Nita … I’m done.  If Eddie and Delia could have hung around a couple more years, let us build up a nest egg, we could have all gotten out but they chose their way … and left me to see that Tito, Joey, and you …”  Danny stopped and shook her head.  “Nita, I’m serious.  You only have one shot at this.  If your grades ain’t better by the end of term you’ll be out of school and I’ll sign you up as an apprentice where ever they have room for you whether you like it or not.  School was a chance for you to pick your future … you’re throwing that chance away.  If I don’t have to pay your tuition then I can afford to send Joey to military school when Tito enters the training academy.  At least then you three will be out of this life.” 

“I hate you!” 

“Good for you.  That don’t change the fact that either you do it my way or you’ll suffer the consequences.  Now shut up and help with these sheets or shut up and go help Mrs. Maddox … either way I’m tired of your mouth.” 

“I wouldn’t help you if you were dying in a ditch!  I’m going to write to Delia.  She’ll come and get me.  Then you’ll be sorry!” 

Danny, knowing that she’d been a lot harder on Nita than she could have been, let the girl stomp away towards the tavern.  She thought, “Hopefully Mrs. Maddox will knock some reality into the chica’s head.  And maybe a letter to Delia isn’t such a bad idea after all.  I’ll talk to Tito about it tonight if I can get in before he has to go to sleep.”

1 comment:

  1. Interesting start, looking forward to MoAr! Thanks Kathy!

    ReplyDelete