Holly and Ivy

© Nicholas 2003

Chapter Four – Holcomb Peabody Brasher

The body grows outside,-

The more convenient way,-

That if the spirit like to hide,

Its temple stands alway

Ajar, secure, inviting;

It never did betray

The soul that asked its shelter

In timid honesty.

Emily Dickinson

"Frigging Bear!" I started awake to hear the yell just outside the door.

The man was clomping down the stairs, I heard the car engine start. The lights stabbed out and tore the night. He turned and drove away. Oh Momma, what did I do wrong? He seemed to know you there? He called your name? Now I've chased him away.

I crawled up to my attic room and cried tears for Momma into my pillow. Maybe tears for me too. What was I supposed to do?

The doves woke me at the window. I smiled to see them scratch and peck upon the glass. "Yes my little friends," I whispered across the space. "Yes, seeds and bread I have a little bit for you." They fluttered some, but didn't fly as I gently raised the sash and scattered what was left.

I stretched and reached to touch the peak. Momma laughed that I had touched it just this fall. "Growing straight and tall!" she grabbed me up and hugged me. My morning hardness had rubbed against her hip. It felt so good to be held and rubbed and loved. I quick pulled on my pants and shirt and grabbed last night's important reminder list.

I raced down stairs and looked inside the ice box. Last of juice and milk! Oh well, I drank them down and looked inside the bread box too. One final piece of bread. Oh, the toaster wouldn't work. Oh well, I knew what I could do! I grabbed the marshmallow fork and speared the bread and went into the sitting room near the fire.

Yes, a perfect morning's joy! Happy toast and fire's warmth to roast the growing boy! I giggled at the rhyme.

Soon toast was poof! disappeared, and life was grand and glorious. I put some more logs on the fire and raced down to the cellar. I poked around and found the faintest little pile of coals. I banked them up and added willow and then a little birch and soon had flames again. "Thanks Momma!" I told her. ""For showing me how to find the smallest little fire!" I shoveled in two scoops of coal, enough to keep it burning late into tomorrow morning.

When I climbed back to the kitchen, the sun was shining bright. I ran back up and grabbed my coat and gloves and raced down to put on boots. I ran into the newly fallen snow and raced out to the woods. Maybe he was back! Maybe the man who painted would stop by to wish me Merry Christmas. Maybe I could talk to him and find out what to do!

No sign of him. I sat dejected on a stump. Not one small print beyond the squirrel and hare and deer. Not even sign that he had ever been here.

I trudged back through the woods toward the house. Oh no! The car was back! I had to hide! He couldn't see me here! I raced behind the wood pile and tried to see between the curtains. I had to get closer to the house...

I watched the back porch and didn't see any movement. I waited like a silent rabbit and then quick hared across the yard. Boots off and in my hand, quiet, quiet, cat's paw feet, like Momma and I had practiced. I could get up the back even with someone in the kitchen! I peeked though, he wasn't there. I shucked my coat and gloves and set them up on the landing just beyond where they could be seen from near the bottom.

I slid around the kitchen door and tiptoed past the pantry. Listening first, then looking quick, the hallway was completely empty. I sneaked closer to the sitting room. I eased the sewing room door open in case I needed a quick place to hide, then slowly slowly inched my way towards the archway opening. I could gradually see inside the room, he wasn't near the settee. The window with the candle was empty too. Oh there, the top of his head, I could see it in Momma's favorite chair. So still, oh gosh! Oh please! Don't let him be dead!

I dashed across the opening so I would be behind. Oh please! Please! He looked so peaceful, just like Momma in her bed.

A snort! I heard him snort and snore! Just like Pastor Davidson when ever he came over! Momma used to laugh and say the poor man needed rest and left him there to sleep his Sunday afternoons away.

Thank you sweet Jesus! Thank you God! At least this one isn't dead. I tiptoed up behind him and then around beside. He looked lost somehow. Like I felt a little while ago out in the woods. I wonder who he is? How did he know Momma? What am I supposed to do now that he's here?

I took the afghan up again and gently laid it on his chest. He clutched it tight, I held my breath, he didn't wake and see me.

Another log then maybe something else is in the kitchen I can eat.

Wow! A bag of candy! Better take just one or maybe he will notice.

Oh no! The Red Owl truck is coming up the drive! I fly back to my attic rooms and plop down near the window. Geesh this candy bar is good!

Old Isaac from the store knocks and knocks and turns and looks and sees the car. He knocks again a little harder now. I hear the man snort and walk out to the entry. The squeak as the door opens, Isaac walking like he never does, across and to the kitchen. Hehe, he always greeted Momma at the back! He knows it's different know. I race to the landing on my back stairs and listen loud.

I hear Isaac open cupboards, cross into the pantry, step out on the porch. He laughs and talks about the cold box. Oh, good, new bird seed too! The furnace, good he feels the heat, I did it right Momma! Just like you taught me too!

Old Isaac takes those shirts that don't fit me any more and goes and now the man repeats his steps, the pantry first, the cold box, the cupboards. Oh oh, I hear the rustling of the candy bag, I wonder if he noticed? Then back into the pantry and back to the kitchen drawer. I hear him crank the can opener. That dratted thing! I always had to do it, poor Momma wasn't strong enough. Wow! Beans! I smelled them when he got it open, geesh I'm still hungry, hope there's maybe some bread and bologna!

I hear the spoon click in the can, hehe, he eats right out of it, like I do sometimes when I go hiking in the woods! Momma gave me the neatest little can opener and spoon to wear on my belt! She said her brother brought them home one time from the war. I wonder why he never came back again? I'd like to meet him too. Momma loved him a lot I know, I could see it in her eyes the times we talked about him. Oh Momma, what should I do to make this man you invited feel at home? Should I break our rule and let him know I'm here? Momma, this is so confusing, what am I supposed to do?

Oh, there, he goes out to the cold box and then back across the kitchen to the entry way. I hear the kitchen door shut and wait. Softly, softly, no catchee this monkey! I giggle quiet and sneak on down the stairs. Boy, I'm hungry, I turn and slip out to check the cold box. Yes! Bologna! Oh great! Half a can of beans! I take them back upstairs and get my spoon and eat them like a soldier. Slow, slow, savor every bean. Hiding from the enemy. Thinking about going home.

I sniffle a little, geesh, I already am at home! And Momma isn't here any more. Hiding, hiding, I wonder if he is an enemy. I wish I could ask him what I'm supposed to do...

Loud chiming! Like the church bells from the valley somehow came into the house! I tear as quickly as I can to the landing on the entry stairs. What noise is this? Louder than the clock that sits in Momma's room. The clock! Oh No! I'm sorry Momma! I forgot to wind it too!

Look, he's fumbling at his belt. Kind of like I do for the spoon! Now he holds some silver thing up against his ear. I wonder if it has some medicine to ease some ache from running into branches? No, he's talking to it! Well talking to himself I guess...

"Damn idiots!" I wince because he curses still, Momma wouldn't like that here inside our house! "Yeah! Oh, yeah, well sure I guess." He seems to pause and turn and look out through the window. "Okay, a half an hour. At your office. Yes and dinner too! Bye! God Damned fucking lawyers!" This last bit as he puts the thing back at his belt. "Well Miss Emily, Aunt Nellie, the lawyers always seem to call, but God Damn it I'll be back!" I move back to the wall, but see his other hand holds Momma's favorite poetry book. He was reading it! Nobody ever came and looked at Momma's books! They droned on and on and never talked such beauty as the poetry. See! His finger stuck inside, he was reading it for sure. He puts it down, open to the poem he read... Look he turns it over so he knows where he was at! I cringe against the wall as he turns and walks away and grabs his coat and clomps down from the steps. Funny he walks so loud. I wonder if he knows?

I creep on down and watch between the windows at the door. He turns and drives the big black car down and toward the village.

I go to the end table, pick up the book, A World Lost! Oh yes! Thank you Momma! That's exactly right! Why didn't I think of that. A World! I almost lost it! I know exactly what to do. He's coming back! I'll find the World for him... The World you loved so well. The happy World we used to make. The bright and shining World you said for all of us. For everyone to know their loved on everyday.

Thank You Momma! I know what I am supposed to do!


This story is a work of fiction, any resemblance of the characters to actual persons living or dead is purely coincidence. Emily Dickinson's poetry is real. It is in the public domain. Comments should be addressed to Nicholas6996@hotmail.com.