Sometimes the pain just never goes away.

More chapters from Where It Ended

A VG Serial: Where it Ended

Chapter 15

That old saw, the good die young, once again proved true when a semi-trailer loss its air brakes and slam into Seth Maddox’s pickup truck on the interstate. The news travel fast as lightning an come through Small Town ’bout two o’clock in the morning. Lily Claire be eleven years old. That the age when daddies be the moss special man in a girl’s life. Miss Sissy say Miss Martha Faye bring that child to the Sutton house. She say poor lil’ thing be ’bout shattered. Yet they be no other wet eyes in that family, an lil’ Miss Lily, she cain’t understand that. It be like she living among dead people who still standing, but show no other signs of life. It frighten her, an in her own sorrow, rather than call her Uncle Bertram, Seth’s brother, she call Miss Katie instead.

It be news to Miss Katie fo’ nobody ever tell her what going on in the family. I can imagine how stunned she be when Lily Claire call her. Sissy tell me later it wasn’t as much a scene as usual when Katie pick up the child. Martha Faye so distracted with all her lil’ tasks she writes down on a piece of paper—like you can’t figure out what to do when you husband die—that she juss wave Lily Claire out of the room. Martha Faye be one sorry gal. Even a kind, gentle man like Seth Maddox not crack the wall of indifference she keep atween her an the world. Katie tell me one time she would have said her own childhood be much worse than Martha Faye’s. But what she see in her child now, she know that not so. Martha Faye don’ seem to feel nothing—no grief, no joy, nothin’. She only know anger, her seething resentment suspectin’ the whole world conspire to hurt her. These things cross generations seem like soup cookin’ a long time on the back of the stove getting thicker an thicker until it finally start to scorch and smell ugly.

That evening, I go over to Katie’s an find she an Lily Claire sitting out on the porch swing, rockin’ quiet back and forth. It seem to soothe them both.

I set me down on the wicker armchair an afo’ I get myself settin’ right, Katie axin’ a question.

“Why always the decent ones? Why is that?”

“Yeah,” Lily Claire say tearfully. “Why did he have to die? Why couldn’t it have been Mama?”

The child say this without a shred of guilt. She not being mean. No one ever see her mean. She juss likely tryin’ to make sense out of somethun that don’t.

Lily start in agin.”It doesn’t seem fair. Mama is always unhappy. How could she miss a life like that? But Daddy, he was so full of love and kindness. Auntie Tara said it was because God likes nice people and calls them home to him. But if God made us all and yet still plays favorites, He doesn’t sound any nicer than people. I don’t like him. I don’t like God. He should be better than that.”

I catch myself chucklin’ juss a little, children being so honest and wise.

Katie look over at me thoughtful. “How would you answer that, Miss Imogene?”

“We always lookin’ fo’ the answer to why. That answer, whatever we come up with, not help us a lick. We think it take the pain away, but it never.”

“What does?” Lily Claire asked.

“Knowing what life really is, child. An you know what?” Lily Claire look hard at me hangin’ on to all I be saying. “You do.”

My reply didn’t help Katie much, but that lil’ child she hear say. I watch her body relax an her breathing git quiet an even. After a while, she come over an squeeze into my chair sideways. Her head restin’ on my bosom, her knees pulled up into her chest, twirling a lock of her flaxen hair slowly round her index finger right next to her cheek. She stay there without moving an axin’ no mo’ questions.

Episodes of Where It Ended by Christina Carson will be published every Tuesday.

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