Are You Loveable: part three
She appeared in the doorway. “I was going to ask if you wanted saltines with your lemonade. Did you track?”
He massed into the space that led from the living room to the kitchen, filling it, as Daisy, seeking dirt, attempted egress; for a moment, Oland and Daisy grappled with each other.
But—a rarity—she yielded, stepping backwards. She jabbed her finger, indicating a chair too small for Oland.
He sat, and Daisy sat. She skidded the pitcher across. Oland on his elbows hunched over the kitchen table. Lemonade sloshed. She leaned back, seizing the tea towel looped through the icebox door. She dabbed at the spill, then raised a strained face.
“Oland,” she said. “You need to visit George while they’ve still got him.”
Oland’s knees, pressed tight under the table’s edge, clenched. Lemonade sloshed anew. “I would like some saltines,” he answered her, meek.
“You aren’t getting saltines,” Daisy said. “I want you listening. George”—she held Oland’s eye and lifted a penciled brow—“might get confused, what with the morphine. He might take another fall. Down the stairs.”
Oland thought this over. “I don’t see how he’d get up with a broken leg. Maybe he would fall out of bed.”
“Ain’t nobody…” Daisy began. She slurped in dark meditation.
Daisy liked keeping up her standards. The Bradshaw house was a place of culture; culture that would one day exert a leveling influence on her neighbors’ social barriers. Yet the times demanded emphatic speech.
“…ain’t nobody ever died falling out of bed.”
He looked to the bright star visible through the kitchen window despite the light within.
“Speak English.” She stretched an arm to the counter, snaffled the saltine box and rooted inside, withdrawing four. She crunched, spewing an arc of discontented crumbs.
“He was tucked up in a sort of bunk we made for him. Had a bad leg…I mean…” He remembered. “Sort of bandaged on, is how it was…but the medics couldn’t make it through. Then they started shelling us, heavy. Strong kept screaming. Then,” Oland said, wonderingly, “he fell out of his bunk and rolled down into the water, down to the bottom. And we never found him.”
“Did I ask? What’s it got to do with the price of beans, that war stuff?” She shoved the saltines across the table. Oland took a handful. “You and George with the stories. Listen, Oland. You go to the hospital and ask to visit. Tell them you’re his cousin.”
Are You Loveable
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(copyright 2015, 2018 Stephanie Foster)