Here’s another Belinda Blue Brown draft. It’s the third in a series I’ve begun in the voice of a character who came to life in “Someday I’ll Have to Tell Him,” one of the stories in my flash fiction collection, The Ice Cream Vendor’s Song. The second in the series is in the post directly preceding this one. I am not attempting to make each of these episodes stand alone and will welcome your comments.
Who Knows Where?
The rain is thrashing my roof somethin’ fierce. You’d think the roof and rain were lovers and the rain just caught the roof kissing a wayward snowdrift. Gee willikers, I’m afraid all the commotion will wake up my little niece Pansy, who’s napping upstairs.
It sure is some crazy weather we’ve been havin’ here in North Bend lately; well, not just lately; it’s been all cuckoo for years now, which I hate to admit, because if I think about how long it’s been since the weather’s been normal, maybe I’ll accept that, say, three feet of snow in the driveway in April and weeks of 50 degree weather in December are here to stay, but be that as it may, this year has been a real humdinger so far, weatherwise.
Just two weeks ago it was snowin’, and I mean it wasn’t just snowin’; it was a blinding blizzard that came down from somewhere in Canada and moved eastward across the entire Midwest, coverin’ everything in its path, all the way out into the Atlantic. Gadzooks! It started the last day of March (ha, ha, ha to March comin’ in like a lion and goin’ out like a lamb, like they told us in grammar school) and it lasted for more than a week. Down, down, down it went without much letup, and little Pansy, oh, she was so upset because the day before the storm hit, a few crocus had popped through the hard, hard ground and, it’s such a wonder to see those lovely yellow petals pokin’ up after months of only shades of white and gray.
Then the snow came and covered up them flowers, and Pansy was completely distraught. We spent a whole afternoon shovelin’ the snow off; well, not exactly shovelin’. We had trowels, and of course the whole project was futile because as soon as we uncovered a crocus, the snow would cover it up again. This brought to mind the myth of Sysiphus, which I first heard when I was in high school English class, not that I was payin’ much attention back then to what went on in class, although I wish now that I had, but I did manage to get the gist of Sysiphus and his plight of rollin’ that boulder up a mountain only to have it roll down again and again, the same thing over and over ’til the end of time. Now, that story really depressed me, but for some reason I mentioned it to Pansy, while we were getting’ our mittens all soaked through to our frigid fingers from our efforts to rescue the crocus. Then, of course, she asked who’s Sysiphus? So I had to tell her the story, and she said flat out that she just didn’t believe it. She thinks Sysiphus probably escaped or got pardoned or something because nothin’ is forever.
Can you believe that? My little niece, just four years old, mind you, said something as profound as that. She comes to visit three afternoons a week because her moma, my brother’s wife, Glory (short for Gloria Jean), up and flew the coup when Pansy was just a little baby of five months. Glory wrote a note. Well, she didn’t write it; she typed it on her computer, and she said she had dark, dark thoughts, and liked to want to hurt Pansy when she cried—and, I do remember, little Pansy was a colicky baby. So Glory said in that note that she was afraid after being up all night, night after night, with my dear brother just sleepin’ away right through the chaos (she didn’t write that part, but I know it’s true) she said she had to split before she did something terrible to the baby.
She didn’t leave a phone number or address where we could reach her or anything, and she’s never sent one note or email. Nothin’. Not even her mama in nearby Cornville has heard from her, and she was as close to her mama as bubbles are to soap, yes indeed, but not even her mama has a clue where she might be, which some of us think is mighty suspicious, but Officer Renell, who is just plain old Bobby Renell, the guy who once shit his pants when we were in the third grade, isn’t askin’ for anybody’s opinion. He says he just wants the facts, thank you very much. But all we know for sure is that we don’t know where she is. She did say in the note that she might head south so the warmth could bake the bad right out of her.
I think she must have had postpartum depression or maybe even that postpartum psychosis like some women, like that Andrea Yates, who end up drownin’ their kids in bathtubs. I wonder why our Glory didn’t go to a doctor like Brooke Shields did when she didn’t exactly adore her baby. Nowadays, a lot of folks in town talk bad about Glory, even my own brother, her supposedly ’til-death-do-us-part husband, and our mom, but I kind of think it was a brave thing to do, to leave for the sake of your child, if you think that’s the only way to protect the new life you’re holdin’ in your arms. And you know what else? I think, wherever Glory is, she’s grieving every single day.
Now Pansy couldn’t possibly remember her mom since Glory left when Pansy was so new to the world, so I don’t think she feels left out. We all love her like the dickens, so it’s like she has all these new moms (that would be me, my sister Corinna Mae and my cousin Lilac) who love her so much that if she were Humpty Dumpty and had a great fall, we’d find a way to put her back together again. But maybe somewhere deep inside Pansy does miss her mom, and that’s what makes her so wise to say stuff about Sysiphus like that, or maybe she’d say that stuff even if Glory was here right now bakin’ oatmeal raisin cookies for a snack after Pansy’s nap.
I don’t know, but I do know little Pansy will wake up soon, and she’ll want to go out and play in this downpour. We’ll put on our rain slickers and boots and find some puddles to splash in because, well now, she’s not going to want to do this puddle stompin’ forever. In a few short years she’ll be paintin’ her nails and talkin’ to boys, and I won’t exactly be able to splash in puddles by myself, even though I would enjoy it. People would talk if they saw me doin’ something out in public like that, and I won’t make a fool of myself for my dear husband Bernie’s sake. So little Pansy and I will go enjoy the downpour today, because god knows, with the weather so harsh and unpredictable like it’s been, pretty soon it could be bone dry here, and the puddles and mud out there could seem as distant as our great great grandparents, whose names most of us probably don’t even know. I kid you not. There area no more summer showers these days, haven’t been any for the last several years. They’re gone, just like Glory. Gone, and who knows where?
Crocus photo by Rose Robinson; puddle photo by gachiman; both used under Creative Commons license.
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