GENRE: MG Historical
For the tenth time my metal hoop clanged to the ground, and I heard Dad's voice saying, “Hoop rollin's an art, Jamie. I used to roll mine to school and back every day without it falling.”
I swung my hoop over my shoulder. A rusty nail snagged my bibbed overalls as I jumped from the porch. Maude wasn’t gonna like that. Rain splattered my sore toe as I raced across the yard and headed toward the road. I stopped to look back and a whiff of sassafras on the rain started my stomach to growling. Maude often made us sassafras tea in the winter.
I chewed the inside of my cheek, remembering the reason I left the house so early. Tyke Whyte, the banker had pounded on the door before breakfast, his fist bulging with papers. I’d listened from behind the door until he started yelling at Maude. Then for the very first time, I wished I was grown.
I lifted my chin and stepped out from behind the door, ready to punch him in the nose. Tyke stopped me in my tracks, waving his finger in my face and shouting at Maude. “There. That boy’s a prime example of why you’re behind on your bills! That boy should be working, carrying his own weight instead of lazyin’ around all day, wallowing in the river . . . And the trash. Hmh. Nothin’ but scum . . . That‘s what you‘re raising!”
A wave of heat surrounded me. Sweat covered my forehead. My blood must be boiling, like Eli talked about. I tightened my fists and stepped forward.
Maude must have known what I was thinking, because she stepped between us, motioning me to go back up stairs. I stood my ground, glaring at him, the way Maude often did before she swatted me with a willow limb.
Maude drew her eyes down until her eyebrows met. “Get up them stairs, if you know what’s good for you, young man!” The words hissed through her teeth.
My stomach tightened into a knot. Had she turned against me too? I swallowed and headed for the back door. My fingernails cut like knifes into my clenched fists.
Dad burn-it. She should have let me hit him. If he took the orphanage, where would we live? I tried swallowing the lump in my throat as I sneaked out the screen door.
Why did trouble seem to follow some folks? Dad shouldn’t have left, I shouldn’t be an orphan, and Ol’ Nickel Head should get what’s coming to him. Nothing seemed fair anymore.
I gazed upward. I couldn’t see the mountain tops for the morning haze that surrounded them like a fuzzy, gray crown. There was something inspiring about the mountains and the music bouncing from them. Still a cold, emptiness followed me everywhere, constantly reminding me of my loss.
If I could, I’d be a mountain with my head in the clouds hearing nothing but music.