The Harvest September 98
Lee! You home?” Anna called through the screen as she shifted
her apples, partially freeing one hand.
Cradling the burlap sack awkwardly over her shoulder and against her
sunken chest like a slumbering child, she ran her thin calloused fingers over her hair in a smoothing
gesture. Giving the hot metal handle a
hard fast tug, she caught the door with one quick foot while juggling the
precariously balanced fruit.
it’s Anna!” She announced loudly,
shoving corn to the side before dumping her load onto the kitchen counter none
too gently. Apples spilled into the
chipped porcelain sink. Turning toward
the front room, Anna saw her mother-in-law sitting motionless in an old wooden
Lee?” Anna tentatively called, tiptoeing
softly around the antique round table.
Its lace covered surface bare but for an old worn family Bible and a
pair of heavy reading glasses. The
well-read Bible, an heirloom which had been Moma Lee’s maternal grandmother’s.
she mouthed silently. Anna held her
breath, hoping Moma Lee wasn’t disturbed from her afternoon nap. Then Anna could get to them apples and put up
the corn with minimal interruptions. But
when she saw Moma Lee’s unseeing wide-eyed gaze, Anna gasped. Her hands flew to her mouth and quickly
settled over her galloping heart as she fell back two rapid steps.
Lee,” she whispered, her mind frozen yet racing in chaos. Comprehension had already begun to take root;
it slowly pushed its way to the surface.
She drew closer and carefully knelt, her knees popping loudly like cracked
walnut husks in the still silence.
forward with one arm, her fingers stretched as though she were plucking the
perfect pear from a gnarled limb. She
pulled the old woman forward, raising up slightly. Anna caught the dead weight of her
mother-in-law’s spent body in a practiced motion.
Cradling the woman’s head over her shoulder, Anna wailed, like a new-born infant. Far into the fields, the workers looked toward the white farm-house. They heard the sorrowful keening, “Mommmaaa Leeeeeee!!!”. Their own fate had just turned with the old woman’s passing.