Searching for Gita, the Little Pearl: Part 1

Updated on March 11, 2019
lambservant profile image

Lori has been writing fiction since she first caught the writing bug at age nine.


America 1969

Old Anna Wronski cupped her hands around her eyes and pressed up against the window pane of Mr. Timmons’ third-grade classroom at Roosevelt Elementary. Her round, pudgy face was framed with a faded red scarf with strands of coarse gray hair poking out.

Through the window, she beheld little girls with plaid pinafores, pleated skirts, and home sewed dresses with rickrack trim. There were blonde, brunette, and auburn heads coiffed in pigtails, braids, perms, and perky bobs, but none of them looked like Gita, her little pearl.

The air was heavy, gray, and wet from the ever-present Pacific Northwest drizzle. Anna was tired, cold, and hungry and ready to call it a day. She must stop at the market on the way home to buy sausage and cabbage for supper. She made her way to Hargrove’s Grocery, a tiny, worn establishment on the corner of 7th and Goldman in the skyline district, a lower middle-class neighborhood. The door protested in creaks and moans, tempered by the sing-song jingling of bells to alert the grocer a patron had arrived.

Anna Wronski
Anna Wronski | Source

Mrs. Hargrove's Grocery

Mrs. Edna Hargrove, proprietor, hearing a customer had arrived, grabbed her dentures that rested on the counter and shoved them back into her mouth. Her tongue thrust about to position and secure them in place, but they continued to slip around.

“Hello Mrs. Wronski?” she said to the stooped old babushka. “What can I do for you today?”

Anna turned around in slow motion to answer Mrs. Hargrove.

“I need Kielbasa and Kapusta.”

“Kielbasa’s in the back cooler case. Let me show you,” said Mrs. Hargrove, knowing full well Anna knew exactly where it was.

Old Anna followed Mrs. Hargrove, carrying her burlap shopping bag that had seen better days. Mrs. Hargrove noticed Anna’s ankles were bulging out of her ancient loafers. The edema seemed to be inching up her legs every day.

“Here it is, Mrs. Wronski. Delivered fresh today from Freeman’s butcher. Only the finest sold here.”

Anna nodded and picked up the sausage wrapped in crisp, white, butcher paper and put it into her bag.

“Kapusta,” she whispered to herself, heading to the produce table.

“Yes, over there in the produce. Follow me.” Mrs. Hargrove pushed past Anna in order to lead her.

Old Anna knew Mrs. Hargrove liked to look important by directing people and showing customers her expertise and good judgment of quality. They stood at the produce table. Anna chose a cabbage, eyed it carefully, added it to her bag and sprouted a nearly toothless smile to indicate her gratitude and the end of her shopping needs. She turned to go to the check stand.

Mrs. Hargrove looked at Anna’s swollen ankles again. “Wait, Mrs. Wronski, look at these beautiful carrots. They would go nicely with your meal.”

Anna shook her head firmly. “No. No thank you,” she said, waving Mrs. Hargrove away.

“Oh, but you must.” Mrs. Hargrove shoved a bunch of carrots into Anna’s bag.

Anna’s feet and legs were too painful to argue. She nodded thank you and let Mrs. Hargrove lead her to the front counter. Mrs. Hargrove weighed the produce on the old rusty scale. She jammed her fingers in her mouth to adjust her teeth, then picked the produce up barehanded and put it into Anna’s bag. Anna would have to wash them extra hard. When all the groceries were weighed, bagged and paid for the door burst open with loud clanging, thuds and all sundry of loud noises. Two fifth grade boys pushed and shoved each other to the freezer case to look at the ice cream treats.

“I want that Nutty Buddy,” said the boy with a cowlick.

“I hate nuts,” said the other, who wore spectacles attached with an elastic band. “I’m going to get this fudge bar.”

They stomped to the register and pushed Anna aside. She cried out in pain and nearly fell.

“Get out of the way, Anna Banana,” said Cowlick.

“Yeah, you old bag,” said Spectacles.

“Listen, you uncouth Cretans,” said Mrs. Hargrove. “You leave Mrs. Wronski alone or I’ll call the cops. My son Raymond is on the force and he’ll be here quicker than you can say, ‘I’m an uncouth Cretan.’ In fact, I want you to leave right now. Go on.”

“We got ice cream, we got money, and we ain’t going until you ring us up,” said Spectacles. He glanced at Anna. “Look at that big, ugly black hair on Anna Banana’s chin.”

He reached to pluck it but Mrs. Hargrove intercepted and rounded on them with more name calling and a very fine grand finale.

“Okay, you little ankle biters.” She pulled out her coffee and cigarette stained teeth and shoved them toward the boys. “Get out of here or I’ll bite you with these.”

With shrieks of horror, the boys ran out of the store leaving their ice cream behind. Old Anna doubled over with laughter, something Mrs. Hargrove had never seen. Anna waved goodbye and headed home.

Mrs. Hargrove, proprietor of Hargrove's Grocery.
Mrs. Hargrove, proprietor of Hargrove's Grocery. | Source

Swollen Ankles

Three blocks took thirty minutes for Anna, what with the pain and swelling slowing her down. She winced while making her meal and could barely shuffle over to the table to eat. After she finished eating she took her dishes and put them in the little dish tub of hot soapy water. She had too much pain to stand and wash them so she went to bed. She elevated her feet on a stack of pillows then snuggled into her down covers.

Anna Takes a Bubble Bath

Anna's ankles and feet were significantly less swollen the next morning. This made her very happy because she did not want to miss a day of searching for Gita at the school. Anna went to the bathroom and prepared her bath. She poured in some bubble bath some of the lady teachers at Roosevelt had given her for Christmas. She rarely used it and did so sparingly when she did, wanting to make it last a long time. She could not afford to buy some for herself. Every penny went to her basic needs. She only bathed once a week to save on her water bill. Her medical needs were growing and she had to save where she could. Most of the time she did not go to the doctor because she did not have the funds, and the blood pressure and thyroid medication, though not really expensive, taxed her income. Without the two medications Anna would not have the ability to search for Gita.

Today Anna had a feeling she would find Gita. She wanted to look and smell her best. Gita always told her, "Mama, you smell like flowers." Then she would bury her little face into Anna's neck and inhale her fragrance. As Anna bathed she laughed out loud at the thrill of the memory.

Today was the day, she just knew it. "Daughter, Mama is coming," she said.


© 2017 Lori Colbo


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    • profile image

      Fahad Iqbal 

      20 months ago

      Nice Article

    • Mekenzie profile image

      Susan Ream 

      2 years ago from Michigan

      Lori, this storyline is very good! I feel as though I am there with dear Anna. I'll be coming back for more. :)

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 

      3 years ago from the beautiful south

      Very well written Lori. I really enjoyed it and will catch the follow ups!

    • lambservant profile imageAUTHOR

      Lori Colbo 

      3 years ago from Pacific Northwest

    • profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 

      3 years ago

      So, who is Gita? and more importantly, where is she? I hope there's more of the story coming (please)

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Don't know how I missed this but so glad you gave a link on part two. This is really well done. I do not know how you make this old woman exciting but she is.

    • lambservant profile imageAUTHOR

      Lori Colbo 

      3 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      Dora, Mrs. Hargrove and Anna were both real people from my childhood. Mrs. Hargrove had another name but she really did do that with her dentures. It was gross but it makes the story interesting.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Great pictures illustrate your interesting story. Surprising details like "grabbed her dentures that rested on the counter and shoved them back into her mouth" make your story.

    • lambservant profile imageAUTHOR

      Lori Colbo 

      3 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      Thanks Bill - Again .

    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 

      3 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      I love the way you bring your characters to life. They're so believable, and when you describe life around them, i feel like I'm there. You're on a roll, Lori.

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 

      3 years ago from Daytona Beach, Florida

      A story that just leads you on and then you want to know more.

    • lambservant profile imageAUTHOR

      Lori Colbo 

      3 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      Hi Audrey, my former husband was 100% polish so I made some of those dishes for him once in awhile. Thanks for stopping by. I hope I'll see you next chapter.

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 

      3 years ago from California

      This just brought so many memories of my grandmother's kitchen --flooding back--we made kapustna pirog and pishoshki, pelmeni, among other--it was the cabbage that triggers me the most--beautifully written Lori

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      3 years ago from Southern Illinois


    • lambservant profile imageAUTHOR

      Lori Colbo 

      3 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      Venkatachari and Ruby, I forgot to put part 1. This will be a continuing story.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      3 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Shucks! I want more! The story is really written well. I could visualize each character from your description. Please let us know more about Gita..

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 

      3 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      This is a nice story. But it ended so quickly and no end. It is too much thrilling and I would like to know the ending.


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