Vera’s mother motioned over to Wallace that now his daughter had finally made it to them. Vera was confused about what was happening, she waiting for directions from her parents. Vera looked over at her father but he stared at the ground motionless, while her mother seemed to be busy working, walking in and out of the barn.
Finally, after a long time, her father turned his body toward Vera and began to move closer to her, his thin, tall frame now rounded, he seemed to be shorter than Vern knew her father to be. Wallace put his face close to his daughter, eye to eye holding her face in his dirt-stained hand, and spoke gently and soft to her, “Not all people are good, Vera. Some people are bad. Some people are good and do bad things. Then there are good people whom bad things happen to. Bad is always bad except when you make right it, Vera. When God intervenes”
Vera didn’t understand what her father was saying or why any of this was happening, but she stayed still and listened. Her father continued, “My sweet Vera, we are the good people that make it right again. That God intervenes for” Vera stood there for a while, waiting on her father to explain. She stayed silent out of fear. “Do you understand, my girl?” Her father asked, still holding her head in his hands.
Vera wanted to understand but didn’t know what to say. All she could do was look vacantly into her father’s dark brown eyes, and there she saw his deep pain. It was a desperate amount of pain, pain that was so deep it could easily be mistaken for love, but it was the fear that ran off the love for Vera. Something deep, dark, and tremendously sinister was upon them, but Vera didn’t know what it was.
Vera whispered, “I think I do father”, but Vera didn’t understand at all. Wallace held his daughter close, now hugging her tight, and Vera could feel her father’s heart beating racing fast through his soiled cotton, cold-sweat-stained shirt. He smelt of death and sadness and stung her throat.
Vera had said that she understood but honestly, she didn’t know what her father was speaking about or why this night was happening. She didn’t understand what this good and bad people talk was all about. Vera was confused about why the air smelled like death, or why her parents were covered in grime and in what looked to her to be blood. Why were they behaving the way they were? She’d never been more confused and apprehensive with her parents in her life. But something told her that she need to do as she was told, even if it felt wrong. She must obey and not question them.
Vera held on to her father as long as she could. An embrace from her father was rare but she still never thought of him as a frail or weak man. Tonight he looked like bones, exposed and broken. Wallace was indeed a thin man, tall but he was strong, built, and lean. He had stringy light brown hair that always seem to be a bit greasy, with a strand or two that hung in his face. Vera knew many of the women at the market favored her father and thought he was attractive, as they would whisper and gossip about him, but Wallace always was sweet to her mother, Alice. Always loyal and loving to Alice and to Vera. Vera hoped one day to meet a man that would love her like her father loved her mother. He wasn’t a perfect man, with his anger at times but he worked hard, provided, protected, and loved them. That’s all Vera hoped for herself one day. But tonight she felt different. She didn’t know this man. She didn’t know these people.
“I am sorry,” Wallace add and pulled Vera away from him. “Vera,” he added, looking down at her, “We are the good people. You believe me, right?” Vera didn’t answer, something told her that wasn’t true but everything she knew of her parent was good, so how did they end up here in this place tonight?
Alice abruptly walked over to Vera and began to tie a strip of the sheet around her daughter’s back without any explanation. She wrapped it twice around her and then loaded two at a time with heavy bloody cloth bags into the sheet. Alice tied it tight around Vera and gave it a tug! Vera felt her knees weaken. “Mother!” Vera cried out, “I can’t carry this, it’s too heavy for me!”
Vera was a small girl for her age of 9 years old. She would proudly announce to anyone who would listen, she was now 50.5 inches tall because five points meant growth! Vera only weights about 40 pounds but she was all muscle and determination. Many people in town would joke that Vera still looked as those she was just a baby, with her small frame, baby-fat rosy cheeks, and light reddish blond curls that would flow wildly around her head it was easy to mistake to be much younger than she was.
Alice would reassure her daughter after a taunting to embrace her child-like features because being a woman is hard, that there was in fact no harder job. Being a child was the best place to be, and in God’s timing, she would shed her child-like innocence and be the woman God created her to be. Vera held on to her mother’s word, especially on the days she was teased, but now she wondered if her child-like innocence was being taken by God or by her parents?
Vera’s eyes widened with fear, “down where?” she asked as she became even smaller. “Come with me!” Vera’s mother began to walk into the dilapidated barn and Vera struggled to lug the weight on her back. She tried to turn her head to catch a glimpse of her father but he was back staring shamefully at the ground. “This way Vera” her mother called.
Vera struggled to follow her mother into the barn, following her steps closely as she was always taught to. It was dark and Vera wasn’t able to see well. “Mother” Vera whispered. The barn was illuminated with dim light as her mother lit the oil lamp. “Here, my girl.” Alice pointed to the place she wanted Vera to walk to. “Come over here.” she pointed to a clearing near a small opening on the floor. “You must go down to the caller, Vera.”
Vera’s mother firmly looked at her daughter and without any emotion replied, “You must, you are the only one that can fit down there.”
Vera’s eyes widen. All these years of stories… DO NOT GO NEAR THE BARN because of THE CALLAR! “What?” Vera, couldn’t believe what she was hearing. “NO, Mother! Please, I am sorry for whatever I have done!” Vera pleaded and begged her mother but her mother held firm, finger pointed to the cellar, and said “Go!”
“Why, what have I done?” Vera was now beyond all fear, she was heartbroken. “Do you not love me anymore mother?” Vera wanted to be strong, and obey her mother and father, but this was more than she could take. Her mind and body were not allowing her to move forward and do what her mother was asking her to do. Vera now cast down, dropped to the ground sobbing. “Mother, please… love me again.” Vera wailed in tears to her mother as she lay wrapped in bloody cloths on the dirt and hay of the barn floor.
“Enough!” Alice yelled! Vera couldn’t stop her crying but she stopped speaking and looked up at her mother. She could see tears now running down her mother’s face. The cold hard line had softened around Alice’s mouth and eyes, and she began to look like the mother Vera knew. She bent down to help her daughter to her feet. Alice took her soiled apron and wiped the tears from her daughters. She gave her daughter’s shoulders a squeeze and they leaned on a stall door for a bit crying together, as Alice tried to gather herself.
“My girl, do you remember I told you to never come to the barn without me?” Alice explained. Vera nodded her head, yes. “Well,” Alice continued, “I am with you and what you are doing is helping the family.” Vera still didn’t feel good about going into the dark cellar, which was more like a hole in the ground, but she did feel better that her mother was now with her, holding her and talking with her. It was like her whole world had gone crazy, but it was okay as long as her mother was with her.
“Vera, I don’t want to share too much now and overwhelm you when there will be much to learn soon enough. What you need to know is that you are helping your family as you always have. You are safe and I will always love you and never stopped. We don’t have much time, so I am hurrying you. I might seem hard or cold my girl, but adults have to make hard and cold choices, we don’t get to be sweet.” Alice bent down and kissed Vera on the head. “You have always been the sweetest part of me, Vera. Now, I am your mother. You will go down the cellar steps and stack the bags against the wall and then climb back up the steps and retrieve more until all the bags are stacked on the wall in the caller. You are small and can fit. This is a job only you can do. You will not speak of this or this night to anyone. When there is more to do or to say, I will come to you. Otherwise, this night never happened. Do you understand?”
Vera nodded her head again, yes. “No, I need to hear you say that you understand, Vera,” Her mother said sternly holding her chin up to meet her eyes. In a small and shaky voice, Vera answered, “I understand” and made her first wobbly step toward the cellar opening.
To Be Continued November 11th… Chapter 4
The Cellar: Answers Revealed
Here is a little hint for you curious cats out there in this photo here.
What could the Grays and Turballs be up to? Who is who and what is in those blood bags? All will be answered soon… but it will have to wait until November 11th for chapter 4, as I have a little tale to tell in honor of the first week of November.
Hope you will join me then! 🖤🤍🖤🤍🍂
Who knows there might even be a hint or two that I share there!
xoxo -Skelly 🖤