Come Out, Come Out

A little tale for Halloween….😱😉

“There’s something in Mrs. Treadway’s root cellar,” I said to Mama’s back. “Something gruntin’ and groanin’ like an old hog.”

The paring knife stopped circling the tater in Mama’s hand. She turned around and stared at me, frown lines gouging furrows between her eyes. “April May Lollis, didn’t I tell you to stay away from there and not be bothering that poor woman?” She waved the shiny blade in my direction. “She’s got enough on her shoulders without you snooping around, asking silly questions. What with her husband up and dying and Jesse joining the Army right after, I don’t know how she runs that place by herself. Course, truth be told, Jesse wasn’t much help to begin with.”

“I ain’t said nothing to her.” I bit into the pear I’d picked from the scrawny tree out behind Mrs. Treadway’s outhouse. Juice ran down my chin, and I wiped it off with the back of my hand. “She didn’t even see me.”

Mama pointed the knife at the half-eaten pear in my hand. “Where’d you get that then?”

I sighed great big. “Off her tree, but she didn’t see me. I didn’t go nowhere near her house. But you know that old root cellar way out behind her garden…something’s in there. I heard it. And there’s a new lock on the door and—”

“April May, how many times have I got to tell you to quit making stuff up?”

“I ain’t making it up, Mama.”

“Or imagining it or telling stories, whatever you want to call it.”

I didn’t know why Mama just didn’t say I was lying—though I wasn’t, not this time. But she put stuff nicer than Daddy; he always said plain out that I was lying. And most of the time I guess I was ‘cause the things I thought, well, they wasn’t always so.

“Go play outside and let me finish supper,” Mama said. “And don’t you go telling your brother and sisters this foolishness when they get off the school bus.” She turned around to the sink. Another go-round of the knife on the tater. “And for heaven’s sake, don’t say anything to your daddy either.”

“Mama, there really was…I mean…”

“April May!”

I stomped across the green-and-blue speckled linoleum and pushed open the back-door screen, letting it bang shut behind me.

Sometimes I got so mad. Why wouldn’t she believe me? Jeeze…

I tromped around in the back yard, every once in a while kicking amongst the big piles of leaves Zack had raked up the evening before, scattering them all back out again. He’d be mad at me when he got home from school, but I didn’t care ‘cause I was mad too. Mama didn’t believe me, and this time I knew I’d heard something. And it didn’t matter if I told Daddy and Zack and Evie and Nora, none of them would go look in that root cellar and see I wasn’t telling no story.

What was in there? It had sounded kind of like a pig, but maybe it was a dog, and maybe it was starving. Maybe that was why it had sounded so funny. Yeah, it was a dog, alright. I just knew it was.

Continue reading “Come Out, Come Out”
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