Hey ya'll. Hope your summer is going well. We have been traveling up a highway towards a lake called, "Deer Creek." Not sure why they call it deer creek. It's actually a lake. If you don't believe me, check out the link below. We found a couple of really cool spots along the way. I find myself in constant argument with Audrey. She wants nothing but to go where people are. I keep trying to tell her we don't mix well with folks, but she won't listen. Last time Moonshine went into a gas station, the clerk threw her hands up and shouted, "TAKE THE CASH! DON'T HURT ME!" Since then we have made it a point to leave him outside with our gear. Anywho, Audrey has been at me quite a bit, and I wouldn't even consider caving, except Moonshine took her side. Since he aint been speaking much, I figured I ought to listen.
Anywho, I keep getting asked where I thought up the character Auntie. This little old woman auntie comes from the woman who raised me. She was a sweet old thing. Her cooking was amazing and her counsel was exact. It has truly been my honor writing her into my story. It is my pleasure and my honor to share with the world Ms. M's child rearing, cooking, and stellar character. My hand is over my heart and I am thinking of you fondly Ms. M. Even as Pablo naps behind me and snores this special moment away. Hang on, I'm going to take his picture.
Anywho, here's the rest of chapter 4.
Chapter 4 (cont'd)
She stops abruptly in the middle of the road and looks around, gripping her aching tummy with both hands. Out in the center of a long green field, a flash of red catches her eye.
Like a lion chasing a gazelle, she instantly sprints out into the rectangular clearing. In only a short distance the red objects multiply before her eyes.
“Please be food!” Princess prays.
Pinching her side and holding her pearl out, she bounds into a thick, leafy green strawberry patch.
“Do you see it, Setchra?” she enthusiastically asks the pearl.
Without hesitation, her dirty little hands cram firm strawberries into her mouth. “Um, num,” she gushes between tarty bites. Forgetting all about the pearl in her hand, she shoves fist after fist of strawberries into her drooling mouth.
“YOU THERE! HALT!” a woman with gray-streaked red hair authoritatively shouts from nearly an acre away. The woman hikes her blue apron and white dress to her knees and storms into the field, charging at Princess.
Princess, caught with a red berry ring around her mouth, looks up at the woman with a startled expression. She snatches a few more strawberries, stands up, and tries to flee.
“Don’t you run away from Auntie!” shouts the woman pointing her crooked finger. Sprinting after the child, her ruddy cheeks huff and puff as she storms after her.
In her haste, Princess crams the last few strawberries in her mouth. Scared and fleeing, she accidentally bites down on the pearl. Pain causes her to inhale, which lodges the half-chewed strawberries and round pebble-sized pearl firmly in her throat. Panicked, yet confident that she can outrun the woman, she sprints back towards the road. Her throat constricts and she feels a slight burn sting her lungs. Unable to draw a full breath of air, she grasps at her throat and begins coughing while trying to maintain her speed. A sharp cramp bites at her side. She pinches it, but continues on, determined. Sadly, the lack of air proves the race impossible.
“I’ve got you now, you filthy, thieving little bugger!” With one hand, Auntie reaches for Princess. Her furious, muddy, chubby, claw-like fingers extend. She raises her mighty hand high above her head, prepared to swat the perceived criminal to death.
Don’t look behind you, just keep moving, Princess thinks in her deeper pearl voice. She pumps her little legs and shuffles her small elbows as best she can. Her efforts are futile. She’s no match for the brute, Auntie.
Auntie seizes Princess by her brown, dirt-stained elbow and whips her around, ready to slap the teeth out of her head. Strangely, Auntie’s livid blue corn eyes soften as Princess clutches her throat with both tiny hands, her eyes filled with terror. Princess’ wide eyes bulge out of her blotched blueberry colored face.
“See what thievery gets you?”
“Yowr bery fast,” Princess strains with the last of her breath. She tries to inhale, but can’t; her hands instinctively move towards her throat. Her vision tunnels and stars begin to cluster.
Without missing a beat, Auntie takes a knee, whips Princess around and bends the little girl over her lap. She slaps the child on the back dislodging the pearl with a single powerful blow. All at once Princess coughs up chunks of red. Her once pure pearl is now tarnished with crimson and mingled with strawberry bits on the ground. She regains her sight and immediately reaches for the pearl. Before Auntie manages to spin her around, Princess snatches slimy jewel off the ground.
Princess gratefully obeys. Her ears ring and ache from the thunderous command. As swiftly as she can, she replenishes her aching lungs.
“Trying to get yo’self killed over a handful of berries, are ya?”
Princess tries to respond, but her throat is entirely too sore. She presses one hand to the base of her throbbing neck. With a sulking glance she attempts to beg Auntie’s pardon.
“Oh no you don’t!” Auntie resists Princess’ pouting pucker. Without mercy, she seizes the little girl underneath her arm and hauls her across the field.
“Of all the things, thievery is the worst, if I dare say so me self.” She shakes her huge, round pointer finger in Princess’ face. “’Cept, for lying. Lying, I dare say, is worse than thievery!” Her thick English accent punctuates each word. “Well, what have you to say for yo'self?”
Princess opens her mouth and tries to speak, but the woman cuts her off.
“Nothing, you've nothing to say for yo’self, now do you?” the middle-aged woman huffs. “Even if you did, it’d be lies. ALL LIES.” Auntie rests her hands on her plump hips. “Next, it’ll be murder. Of course, murder is the worst of them all, and I do dare say so meself!”
Auntie drags the child across the field toward a small cottage in the distance, barely letting her feet touch the ground. Though her life looms in the steel grip of Auntie, Princess can’t help but notice the unusually tall, long stem dandelions mixed with the old woman’s crop.
“Let me get a good look at cha.” She examines the frantic child from head to toe. Her eyes soften even more. “Beautiful, aren’t cha?”
She squishes Princess’ cheeks together, inspecting her teeth. Princess squirms, trying to turn away from Auntie’s stinky breath and crooked yellow teeth.
“Well then, are you going to tell me your list of woes or aren’t cha?”
Princess takes a deep breath and looks down.
“Yesterday my parents were killded by a monster. My log rolled into the water where Setchra—” she holds up her pearl, her eyes still on the ground, “saved me.”
“Setchra saved you?”
Princess uses her low voice, pretending to be the pearl, “Yes, she did.”
“You were saved by a pearl?”
“No … I was saved by the mermaid Setchra. She gave me this pearl. I named it Setchra.”
“Oh, I see.” Auntie’s temper evaporates. “Well, alright then,” she taps her finger to her cheek, deep in thought.
After a moment, Auntie takes the pearl, wipes it down, and holds it out, giving it a good look over.
“If I were a dirty thief,” the old woman says raising a scrutinizing brow, “I would keep this, ya know.”
Princess looks down and shuffles her tiny feet, her heart sinking. “Please don’t let her keep it,” she prays in a small voice, “It’s all that I have left!”
Princess takes a deep breath and sighs, mumbling, “I’ll never get Setchra back now.” She sniffles.
Overhearing Princess’ muffled pleas, Auntie decides to show mercy. “Thieving is bad, ya know.”
Princess emphatically nods.
“But praying is good, and that’s why I’m not going to steal your pearl.” Auntie hands the shiny, precious white pearl back to its rightful owner. Princess gratefully smiles.
“Bless you,” Auntie says, mistaking Princess’ misspoken gratitude for a sneeze. “Have you learned your lesson?”
Princess nods her head with long, slow, exaggerated strokes.
“Will you tell me the truth?”
Princess nods faster.
“Were your parents really slaughtered?”
Princess’ nods slowly, her glistening bottom lip pokes out. Tears well in her big blue eyes, eviscerating Auntie’s wrath entirely.
“My folks was killed too, ya know. Tis dangerous times, no doubt about it, ‘tis dangerous times indeed.”
The old woman clucks her tongue and takes Princess’ hand. “C’mon then, let’s get you cleaned up a bit.”
The fierce garden warrior is no more. The fiery redhead’s rage is now replaced with a limitless, unfathomable kindness.