I’ve been writing every day. Here’s a story rough draft that is a one side of a conversation in what could be alternate reality.
No one has died. Why would you suggest such a thing? If they’d died, there’d be paperwork. Announcements.
Isn’t it nice how many of us go away on vacation? It’s so wonderful, in fact, that they never come back. Lucky, huh?
Please don’t ask to see any postcards. No one sends postcards anymore anyway.
Yes, Gina’s learned her lesson. I think. Sure, it was just a joke, but you can’t joke about things like that. I mean, there’s nothing to joke about. That is, there’s no problem at all so why’d she’d have to say anything?
I mean, yes, maybe it seems like a lot of daughters have gone missing. Yes, that’s right. Mothers too. Sisters. It might look bad, but what are you? Looking for something to criticize? It’s just a coincidence is all. What can’t a girl go away for a while without folks tongues wagging? People should mind their own business.
What? That? It’s just a reminder. Everyone gets one. I put it on the fridge so I don’t forget. It’s nice to know we’re being looked after, don’t you think? My sister forgot to send in her registration last year. Good heavens, what a fuss they made. I helped her pay her fine, of course. She’s my sister after all. I think she has one more month of mandatory testing. Boy, she’s learned her lesson, I tell you what. I don’t know why some folks complain. It doesn’t take long, does it? I don’t know about you but I could pee on a stick every day if they needed me to. I wouldn’t mind. Though, to be fair, most people don’t complain as much these days. I think they’ve realized it’s all for the greater good.
Just move the toys out of the way. Sorry I haven’t cleaned up. I wasn’t expecting company, and as you’d expect, it gets crazy around here. All these younguns keep me busy.
No, that one isn’t mine. Well, he is. Now. I mean, while his mama’s gone.
Oh, who’s to say? Why, why don’t you come down the hall and meet Lulu. The other kids call her Looie most of the time. No, she don’t talk. She can’t with all those tubes, of course.
No, I can’t rightly explain what’s wrong with her. I mean, she’s got a fraction of the brain she should. But you don’t need to worry too much. She doesn’t feel anything. If you stuck her with a pin, she wouldn’t feel it. At least, we don’t think so. She can’t respond, so it’s hard to say.
Why don’t we get going to the hospital. Don’t worry about the kids. Sandy’ll look after them. She’s sixteen, you know. Her first year on the registry. So, she might as well get some practice taking care of younguns.
Thanks for going with me. This has been hard, as I’m sure you can imagine. I tried to teach these kids right from wrong, but what can I say? Kylie’s always been a bit wild, you know? Always had one of those imaginations that cause trouble. Well, I know I’m just supposed to call a spade a spade and call her the liar that she is. The judge gave her a chance to tell the truth, but, oh that girl. Stubborn as the sun is hot. I tried to talk sense into her, but you know how girls can be. We have that side to us. And to think, all that my brother does for us and for her to say such nasty things. Maybe some time away will give her time to think about what’s she’s done and cultivate gratitude. Maybe even some remorse.
No, I don’t know when she’ll be back. When they feel she’s learn her lesson. Can’t expect any less, can you? People gotta learn to respect their elders and the rules. At least she’s going to bring that beautiful baby into the world. Oh, I can’t wait to bring that baby home.
That’s right. I’ll take care of the little thing. Why not? I’ve got a few cribs going empty. Sure, it means tightening our belts a bit more. Thankfully, they’ve relaxed the rules about school, so I can keep the oldest ones home. The boys are already working, except for Jim. He’ll keep going to school, of course. They’ve got their eye on him. I always said he’s a born leader.
What? What’s down that road? Oh, you don’t want to go there. You can’t believe all the stories you hear. My neighbor, Betsy Robertson, she’s got a sister who lives over by the registry office, and she works for the Children’s Institute. She told me right out that they hardly ever have children staying there. All this gossip about dozens of children is nonsense. Why, that building can’t begin to hold as many children as those chin waggers will tell you. What kind of people would let children sleep in hallways and dirty yards? Such terrible things to say about hardworking people. Honestly, people will believe anything.
Oh, no. I’ve never been over there. I don’t have time, what with all these kids I’m looking after every minute. They don’t need me in the way either. I’ve known Betsy longer than I’ve known almost anybody still around. You can believe what she says about the Institute. She’s not one to tell tall tales. She has a badge and everything.
Hold on a minute. I’m sorry. I’ve got a message I have to check. It’s from the registry office. You know how they are if you don’t reply right away. They do worry. It’s kinda sweet, don’t you think? I wish my husband would send me so many messages. Not that I’m complaining about my husband. I know he’s doing his best for us. Now, just wait a moment, please.
Why, oh my. Would you look at that. Here. You can read it yourself.
Gosh, that is some news, isn’t it? Wasn’t I just telling you about those cribs? My mama always said that God doesn’t like an empty crib. It’s why she dragged a couple of the cribs out into the yard one day when I was about ten and took an ax to them. She told me that if God couldn’t see that empty bed, he wouldn’t want to fill it. Didn’t work though. She gave birth to my youngest brother, Jessie, the next year. You know Jessie, don’t you? Shame mama didn’t even get to hold him. Her body gave out, but that’s how it is, isn’t it? I used to tell her to take better care of herself, but she just laughed. ‘My body’ll last as long as God wants it too.’ That’s what she said, and she more honest than an angel.
We should take a moment and say a prayer for Jessie, if you don’t mind. It does me good. Oh no, he’s not in jail. They don’t put a good man in jail for things like that. To tell you the truth, it didn’t surprise me at all. But the council voted for their wedding, so what could I do? The council does what’s best, of course. But Lord, that girl had a mouth on her. Didn’t you meet her once? So you know. Why, if a girl can’t learn to keep her opinions to herself, what does she think’ll happen? I hoped marriage would calm her down, you know, like it did for me. I’m sorry. I don’t mean to sound ugly. I’m sure her parents miss her some, but as far as I’m concerned, good riddance.
Won’t Jessie be happy to be an uncle again? Well, it’s funny. Jessie was mama’s tenth. I mean, if you don’t count the miscarriages and the two stillborn, of course. And this one will be my tenth. They haven’t all lived, rest their little hearts. I think of them every day, but at least I got the other younguns.
Goodness. I can hardly believe it. I’m so very blessed.
Don’t you think?
Thanks for reading.