07 August 2008

short short story

The Harvest          September 98

“Moma 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.

“Moma Lee, 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 rocking chair.

“Moma 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.

“Moma Lee,” 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.

“Oh, Moma 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.

Anna reached 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.

2 comments:

  1. WONDERFUL!   Anne

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  2. Damn girl... this is pretty damn fine...

    ReplyDelete

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