Scoot and me are late to school. I don’t like being late because everyone stares and Miss Primrose expects a ‘reasonable excuse for tardiness.’
Scooter pulls out his pocketknife and strolls to the front, his happy eyes aiming at the wood he’s about to shave into invisible.
“Emma June?” Miss Primrose says.
“I’m sorry, Miss Primrose,” I say, glancing at Frank who’s giving me a half smile. “Scooter had himself a bit of an adventure.”
The class giggles and I want to punch them all in the face. What’s wrong with an adventure? At least the ones that don’t make someone carry a grudge. Daddy said Mama still loves me. There’s hope in that.
I try so hard to remember what happened toward the end of the carnival, but everything is jumbled up like bad scrambled eggs. Carla was in better shape than me, but she fell asleep on the ride home when Mama and Beauty had the fight. I remember fading in and out while they argued. I remember upchucking more than once. There’s nobody to tell me what happened except Mama.
So many questions I wanted to ask Daddy that morning when I woke up to find Mama gone. The only answers were Daddy’s tears. “We’ll work this out. Don’t worry. We’ll work this out,” he had said. And then his words faded as he shuffled away to his bedroom and closed the door.
I don’t know how to help him work things out any more than I know how to make Mama come home. I might as well try picking up shadows.
Excerpt from The Moonshine Thicket (1928)