Whisper Town

Whisper Town by Patricia Hickman

Book: Whisper Town by Patricia Hickman Read Free Book Online
Authors: Patricia Hickman
of Fern catching her family up on her life in Nazareth.
    “So do you think he’s really the one?” Fern’s sister asked.
    “I think I’ve been in love with Jeb from the minute I first laid eyes on him,” said Fern.
    Angel let out a sigh and fell asleep. At least Fern had not gushed about Jeb all the way to Ardmore.

10
    I
DA MAY DREW PUMPKINS AND AN OCTOBER moon the color of wheat. In a few days she and Willie would go out begging for pennies for All Soul’s Day.
    Willie yelled for the last time for her to walk with him to school.
    “My drawing is going to win the art show,” she said. “No one draws as good as me.”
    “Ida May, don’t make your brother late for school,” said Jeb. He held the door open and glanced out at the morning and its
     stillness. He worried over three women driving to Oklahoma.
    The clouds overhead made rows like cattle waiting in paddocks for slaughter. He followed Ida May and Willie to the end of
     the drive. The morning’s quiet languished without a birdcall, or even a friendly ripple of thunder. Only clouds, empty; limbs
     baring to all the giving up of summer, and it was a brown surrender, what with the lack of rain to rosy up the autumn. Jeb
     walked toward the empty porch cleared of rocking chairs. The house begged for Fern and Angel to return. Or else that was Myrtle
     crying for her mother.
    Jeb turned when he heard the
snap
and
pop
of rock under rubber tires. A faded black car slowed. Lucky ran out to meet her sister. The door opened and Lucky accepted
     the bundle handed to her. She stepped away and watched the car drive out of sight.
    Lucky Blessed smiled at Jeb for the first time. “You have kind eyes,” she said. She appeared thinner this morning as though
     the fabric of her soul had shrunk on the wash line.
    Jeb walked her back to the house. “I believe with Reverend Louie that God brought you to us. I don’t know what to do with
     babies. They don’t seem to like me much.”
    Lucky aimed an exasperated sigh at Jeb. Myrtle was cradled in blankets a few feet from the stove, where Willie and Ida May
     had made a bed for her. “I see a dish of milk out by the walk. You keep a cat?”
    “The girls run after this stray—”
    “It’s a bad thing to keep a cat around a baby. They try to steal a baby’s breath, so they lay on its face when the master
     ain’t looking and smother it.” She lifted Myrtle from the hive of blankets. She bounced her, slowly nodding, bending her knees
     and humming. “Baby’s hungry.”
    “Belinda’s late. She’s late a lot on account of she has her own to feed.”
    “White woman don’t mind feeding a colored baby?”
    “Have you had breakfast? We have some left over from the kids’ breakfast.”
    Lucky ate all of the leftovers, the biscuits, and even the cold eggs, eating with one hand but never losing her grip on Myrtle.
     She had a way with her.
    “I think she likes you,” said Jeb.
    Lucky looked at Jeb as though he had slept for a while and then awakened to find the world had changed. “You go on about your
     business, Reverend. Me and ’is baby will be fine.”
    Fern’s daddy was laid to rest on the hill where he had practiced his drives. Fern’s brothers and uncles acted as pallbearers.
     Angel had never seen quite so big a turnout for a man’s funeral. He had known a lot of people, obviously.
    Fern held her momma’s hand as they huddled around the grave, each family member taking turns tossing dirt onto the casket.
     Angel and Florence each held a flower given to them by one of Fern’s many nieces. They offered their flowers to Mrs. Coulter
     and she in turn dropped them as a farewell bouquet on top of her husband’s final resting place.
    The Coulters gathered around their mother to console her with words of remembrance about the family patron. It seemed a sin
     to covet a scene like theirs. Angel wondered who would come and see her off if she kicked the bucket. Not a lot, it seemed.
     Not like this.
    “I think

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