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“What was it, child?” I asked.
“I don’t know, but–but Caleb saw it too.” Will turned his face toward his brother. “Didn’t you?”
Caleb shrugged. “Dunno.” His eyes looked a little wild and boogery too. “I guess…something…” He looked back at the night, then sidled up close to me. I put my arm around him and he pressed close.
On the other side of the yard fence, the corn patch lay still and black. Nothing moved amongst the corn stalks that I could tell. But there was something there, all right; I could feel it. And Penny did too. Her hair bristled from her head to the tip of her tail, and she was whining and growling, both at the same time.
“Let’s go inside,” Grace said softly. “Now.” She took my elbow, and with Caleb and Will tucked up against me, guided us all up the steps with a steady hand.
When both my feet were on the porch, I took a good look at my jellyfish-gal, and it came as no surprise that she was now pret’near as tall as me. And Isabelle’s tee shirt barely covered enough to keep her decent. I reckoned I’d better hunt up something to cover her bottom part ’cause at the rate she was going, by morning she’d be full growed.
Grace reached around me and pulled open the screen door. “We’ll be all right in the house, Nana,” she said. “It doesn’t like the light.”
It took me a spell to get to sleep that night, and it weren’t because every light in the house was blazing. I kept thinking about It what was out in the corn. And Grace. What was she and where had she come from? And what was It that’d come down after her? And why? Continue reading
The sun rose a bright-orange hot, promising another scorcher. It crept across the cloudless blue sky at a snail’s pace, seeming to mock my urging it to hurry by traveling even slower. More than once Granny had to repeat herself. I couldn’t concentrate. Ira filled my thoughts.
Guilt gnawed at me for not telling Granny about sneaking out last night and meeting Ira, but I remembered what he had said, that if I told, I wouldn’t be allowed to see him. I couldn’t take that chance. I had found a friend and I didn’t want to lose him.
When darkness fell and Granny and I went to bed, I waited for a while to make sure she was sleeping, then dressed again in the cutoffs and pink tank I had worn that day. Remembering Ira’s warning, I slipped on my sneakers before crawling out the window.
I ran most of the way to the old bridge, praying, Please, please, please let him be there.
Bathed in moonlight, I saw him in the place where he had been the night before: leaning up against the railing, gazing out over the water. Only then did I slow to a walk. At the sound of my sneakers hitting the boards, he turned in my direction. Continue reading
He screwed off the gas cap, which was on my side of the truck, and began pumping. A small smile curled his full lips when our eyes met. He was so close, I could have reached out the window and touched him.
Seeing him for the first time in daylight, I was taken aback. I had known he was nice looking, but, dear Lord, nice looking didn’t even begin to cover it: Ira was downright beautiful. He took my breath away.
Greasy blue coveralls fit snugly over broad shoulders and narrow hips. Parted on one side, hair the blue-black color of a raven’s wing fell in clean straight lines to the bottom of his neck. Sweat beaded his copper-hued face. Above high, prominent cheekbones, his dark brown eyes danced with amusement. “Better shut your mouth before something flies in it, little girl,” he murmured.
I closed my mouth with an audible snap. Continue reading
When I got home from school, I told Granny about Bubba Higgins.
“Terrible thing to lose a child,” she said. “A body shouldn’t have t’put their babies in the ground. . . ain’t right. I know how it feels.”
We prepared supper in relative silence, and after sitting down to our meal, ate only a few bites.
The wrinkles on Granny’s face looked as if they had been chiseled deeper, her eyes more faded and less focused. Most likely, her thoughts had traveled to the past, to Daddy’s dead brother.
As for me, my mind had taken a disturbing turn. Ira’s strange smile kept floating to the surface of my thoughts. I recalled how furious he had been on the bus yesterday afternoon, the violence seething in his eyes. And Granny’s words kept echoing in my mind: He stares at a body like he’d just as soon kill you as t’look at you.
Was Ira capable of murder? The Ira I knew, that he allowed only me to see, I didn’t think was. But what about that other Ira who showed a stony, arrogant face to the world? God help me, I didn’t know. I had to see him, had to talk to him. Continue reading