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Authors: Caroline Rose

May B. (9 page)

BOOK: May B.
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      I bang at the boards,

      not sure exactly

      where to place each piece,

      but figuring with so few to go,

      the planks will show me where they belong.

      Maybe Mr. Oblinger will

      want to fix these boards

      to his liking

      someday.

      I stop myself.

      He’s never coming back.

57

      I am afraid

      in the dark

      all alone

      I am afraid

58

      It started small:

      Hiram’s church-going shirt left untucked,

      My dirty hands at suppertime.

      Then we got bold:

      Sneaked a piece of cooling pie,

      waded deeper in the stream

      than Pa allowed.

      Somehow Hiram rarely caught trouble.

      That smile of his softened Ma.

      Pa, grateful for extra hands,

      overlooked the times Hiram forgot to milk,

      misplaced the saw,

      dropped his boot in the creek.

      I thought of something he wouldn’t dare do.

      “Get Ma’s scissors

      and meet me out back.”

      It was just the two of us behind the soddy,

      but I leaned in close.

      “Cut some of my hair.”

      He narrowed his eyes.

      “Why’d I want to do that?”

      
“Afraid Ma will notice?” I sang.

      “Worried Pa will tell you

      to wait for him in the barn?”

      “You’re daring me?” he asked.

      “I am,” I said.

      That was enough to stir him.

      And when he grabbed at a braid

      and the scissors snapped,

      I scooped it up,

      a four-inch rope of brown hair.

      Swishing it under his nose, I told him,

      “You’re going to get it tonight.”

      That smile of his lit up his face.

      “Don’t I know it.”

      I swatted at him with the braid,

      yelled, “I’m showing Ma!”

      and ran.

59

      It is not strange

      to wear the same dress

      from day to day,

      but to awake,

      still clothed,

      and not notice

      until the coffee’s made—

60

      I hope Mrs. Oblinger fell off that horse

      and is still wandering the prairie.

      Mr. Oblinger

      better be dead.

      Pa deserves the mess he’s made,

      sending me here.

      His only daughter

      abandoned

      by strangers,

      forgotten

      by family,

      left behind

      by classmates,

      ignored

      by Teacher.

      Nobody cares

      about me.

      I hate this place.

61

      Today,

      if it takes forever,

      I will see the place

      where the earth touches sky.

      I will find it.

      I will track it down.

      I will not sit here and wait

      for nobody to come,

      for nothing to happen.

      Have Hiram and I been wasting time

      on a foolish game?

      Today,

      I will learn the truth.

      

      Over my shoulder I check for the soddy

      one time,

      two times,

      three.

      Why did I think I’d be brave enough

      to set out on my own?

      How did Hiram and I

      get this idea anyway?

      
The earth is round,

      Miss Sanders told us.

      She brought that globe to school,

      let us pass it around.

      If stories were true,

      I’d follow a bread-crumb path

      all the way home.

      But I have no heart for fairy tales

      anymore.

62

      I return to the soddy,

      gather pebbles at the creek,

      and line them up,

      a family of smooth stones.

      One by one

      I heave them into the water,

      harder,

      then harder still,

      until I’m wet,

      and hoarse from yelling,

      and done with childish dreams.

63

      I have decided

      there is no need to iron

      my dresses

      or the linens.

      And my hair,

      I don’t have to pull it back

      in a braid.

      My coffee

      doesn’t need to be hot.

      Who will notice?

      I think it might be September,

      if I’ve counted right.

64
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