Teens

TEEN AND TWEEN TUESDAY
Thursday, October 23, 2014 by Patti Shene

My apologies to Nadia for getting this story posted two days late. Thank you for sharing your work!

 

BROTHERS

by 

Nadia L.

The man's boots scuffed across the dusty wood floor, back and forth, back and forth, as he paced. He wrung his cowhide hat, untwisted it, and wrung it again.

His two sons watched him nervously from the ground, their eyes following the constant movement of his lips as he muttered, ran fingers through his damp, brown hair, and glanced towards a door at the end of the dark hall every other second.

The older brother, a young man at about fourteen years of age, knit his eyebrows and drummed his fingers against the wall, creating a sort of hollow, empty echo. The younger, perhaps five or six years, was sitting next to him. He yawned, cross-legged on the floor.

"I'm sleepy," he whined. "When is Ma gon' come out?"

The older brother shoved the younger roughly, hissing, "Shut up and stay still. Ma's having a baby."

 Just then, a loud wail came from the door. Their father seemed to jerk awake. He dropped his hat as he dashed through the dim hallway to the door, flung it wide, and slipped inside, crying out, "Martha! Martha, are you alright? Martha, speak to me --"

The door slammed shut. Muffled moans and sobs could still be heard in the background.

The older brother let out a heavy sigh and ran a hand over his face. He stared at swirling dust clouds made visible by golden shafts of light crawling through the narrow windows.

"Hey, Jimmy, Ma will be all right," he said, eyes growing distant. The younger brother, Jimmy, said nothing, for he was picking at a crack in the floorboards, lying there on his stomach. "God will protect her. And Ma -- she's strong."

He thought he could hear her screaming, "I can't, I can't!" over and over again, but he pretended that he didn't. He could just imagine her, struggling on the bed, face red and wrinkles pronounced, covered in shiny, sticky sweat as Pa ran a damp cloth over her forehead and rubbed her hand soothingly, but with a look of that same hopelessness he had seen when Pa was in the hallway with them –

No. He would not imagine it.

Jimmy swung his legs in the air and began to hum.

"Will you stop that?!" the older brother snapped. Jimmy glared at him, kicked the air harder, and hummed his tune faster. Sending a dark look of his own, the older brother got up from the ground, stretched, and said:

"I feel like I should do something. Come on, Jimmy."

Jimmy looked up in surprise, a daddy long-legs dangling from his hand, which was stopped in midair. "Pa said to --"

"I don't care. Help me milk Mary-Belle," said the older brother, turning away.

"But Obadiah, it's not even milking time --"

Obadiah had already stomped down the hall. He had to do something. Anything. Ma would not die, he told himself. Ma was strong.

In the house, Jimmy poked his daddy long-legs. Thumps and cries came from the room. He wondered how Ma was doing. Was having a baby that painful?

Jimmy tossed the spider aside and rolled on his back. The beamed ceiling above, dark and covered in cobwebs, seemed to loom over him. He always wondered why it never crashed down. Whenever HE tied together sticks in an attempt to recreate a house, it always collapsed! Maybe God held it up with his hands. But wait -- then how would the other houses be held up? Did God have a hundred hands –

"Martha? MARTHA!" he heard Pa scream. Jimmy's head whipped up. "Martha, Martha, hold on, just a little while longer --"

The air was still for a long moment.

"Martha?"

Every second was an eternity. Then Jimmy heard the angry shout of a man before they became soft sobs. Was that . . . was that Pa? But Obadiah always said blubbering was for sissies! Pa wasn't a sissy, was he?

Slow steps in the distance became audible. Obadiah appeared from around the corner of the hall, sweating and sighing. His face was covered in a shadow. Jimmy said nothing as his brother came near at last and sunk to the floor, burying his face in his hands.

"Obadiah?" Jimmy said. "Why is Pa crying?"

Obadiah stared at him. He opened his mouth, closed it, then tried again.

"Pa is . . . crying? Are you sure?"

Jimmy nodded, causing Obadiah to draw a sharp breath.

A soft click came as the door at the end of the hall squeaked open. Pa, slumped and old, emerged from the room. Jimmy scrambled up from the ground and ran over, and Obadiah looked on blankly.

"Pa! Pa, how's Ma? Where's the baby? Can I see him?"

Pa seemed to sag under an enormous burden. His face was drooped with wrinkles and sadness, but he smiled and placed a heavy hand on Jimmy's head.

"Ma isn't with us anymore."

Jimmy frowned. Pa looked scared. "Did someone take her away?" he asked.

Pa took a deep, shuddering breath and said, "Yes, son, God did --"

Obadiah stomped the floor, face flushed in anger.

"Jimmy, you fool, it means that Ma is dead!" he growled, eyes bright with tears. Jimmy backed away, heart hammering, as Obadiah drew near.

"It means we'll never see her again! It means that all we have now is the baby and an idiot like you!"

Pa gave him a dark, warning look, but Obadiah ignored him.

"You're so stupid! Didn't you know that -- that -- Ma's been sick? She was weak! And all you could do was bug her and nag her all day long! Do you think that would make her love you?"

Jimmy's eyes were wide. He kept glancing to the side, looking for a way to escape. He had never in his life seen his brother so angry, so terrifying.

"But -- but you said -- you said she was strong!"

"I lied!" Obadiah screamed, face blotched and swollen, spittle flying from his mouth.

Jimmy gasped. Why . . . oh . . . oh. Of course it was Jimmy's fault that Ma was dead. He killed Ma! He killed her! Jimmy killed their mother! And Obadiah looked so . . . angry. His eyes overflowed with tears. Fat, hot droplets streaked down his cheeks and he began to wail.

"M-ma-ma," he choked out, "is dead! Ma is de --"

"Shut up!" Obadiah screamed. His eyes widened for a split second before he dashed down the hall again, shaking the floor with his heavy steps.

Pa was silent, and Jimmy sniffed quietly. They heard the distant slamming of the screen door as Obadiah no doubt went off to find some time alone.

Jimmy, not even coherent, sat down and hugged his knees. Pa watched him with tired eyes. 

"I'm s-s-sorry, Pa," he mumbled. "But at least the baby is alright, isn't he?"

Pa said nothing. 

Nadia is a 13-year-old homeschooled  Christian who wants to praise the Lord with her whole life. Creating is her most favorite thing to do—creating pictures, creating stories, creating scarves and mittens, creating cookies, and best of all—creating smiles. Besides creating, her other favorite things are bright colors and weird words. In fact, she hopes you will comment with one (or two [or three]) of your favorite words! Her current favorite is "antejentacular"—it means "occurring before breakfast." 

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Comments

Nadia From At 1/13/2015 3:04:48 PM

Wow, thank you for taking the time to comment, Ms. Potts! That is quite the long word. I'll be sure to put it into use in the near future! :D

Patti Shene From SE Colorado At 1/11/2015 6:25:25 PM

LOL Grace! I will be sure to email Nadia and bring her attention to your comment. I'm sure she will love it! Thanks for stopping by.

Grace S Potts From Georgia At 1/11/2015 6:02:19 PM

How about hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia? Fear of long words. Negative, nonhippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobic, longest word I know. Not sure of spelling, googled Medical Dictionary + phobias, got http://phobialist.com/#H- I'm at www.saytothewearyone.blogspot.com

Nadia From At 10/31/2014 5:25:03 PM

Thank you so much for your kind words, Ms. Goff. I've never heard of Albertopolis. It sounds interesting. If I ever get the chance to visit England, that would be a fun place to look into!

Patti Shene From SE Colorado At 10/30/2014 10:05:47 PM

Sara, thank you so much for stopping by with an encouraging word for Nadia. Our son and daughter-in-law live just outside of London. They had a tough time getting their visas renewed last year and had to spend nine months living with us here in the states. They were glad to get home!

Sara Goff From London / New York City At 10/30/2014 4:32:55 PM

Keep writing and creating, Nadia! You have a lot of talent. I'm from New York but live in London now. So, here's my weird word: Albertopolis. It refers to a cluster of museums and cultural centers named after Prince Albert in South Kensington, London. Sara www.saragoff.com/blog/

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