She woke up in a sweat from the nightmare that had awakened her all summer. She heard her stepfather, Frank, dog whistle. He must be in a good mood. His usual reveille was “get your ass out of bed….we ain’t runnin’ a hotel around here”.
She felt her stomach rise to her throat as her feet slid to the floor. She made the bed, being careful to straighten the sheets and smooth the bedspread. Her stepfather, a veteran of Korea and Vietnam, required hospital corners.
She hated summers. There were no swimming pools or sleepovers. Summers meant cleaning, mowing, scrubbing, and keeping a low profile until school started. She heard Frank bark, “Get in the truck. We got to pick something up from Tony.” She could only imagine. Marijuana, crates of scrap metal, a new blade for the lawn mower.
They drove out Old Battlefield Road and took a right on the dirt road that led to Tony’s trailer. The truck rocked, and she gripped the edge of her seat to keep from sliding into Frank. Turn left. Turn right. Dead-end. The truck pulled to a stop. Frank jumped out and waved for her to follow. She walked timidly through the tall grass that stretched out beyond the dirt road. She wished she had worn her tennis shoes instead of her dime store flip flops.
She heard them before she saw them. A humming sound. Rhythmic and comforting. She saw Frank in front of her swatting at his head. She could see the halo of bees swarming him. She stepped back into the cover of the trees and smiled.
in North Carolina268