Jackie tells of the many adventures and emotions of a little girl growing up in a large family in the fifties.
Katie spends the summer with the grandmother she used to be so close to and never wanted to move away from. A whole summer away from her mother and little brothers!
So Far Away from Home
No one asked Katie if she wanted to leave home for the summer! It was just planned and presumed she would be thrilled. She recalled how homesick she had become at Easter vacation the previous year. This would be several weeks away from home and the thoughts of it made her so sad!
Her tiny baby brother would miss her so bad and she knew she would miss him. She even slept with him most nights still although her mother said she was getting a bit big for his bed. The bigger brothers would surely miss her, too.
It was all decided though and her dad would drive her there soon.
First grade had ended and all was going so well now. No more bullying and Katie had made so many friends. Three or four she even saw occasionally outside of school. She had been invited to visit with those and she really was looking forward to that.
She would also miss the woods and trails under the pines on the old dirt road. There were no cars there and since she could hear her mother as soon as she called she was allowed to run free there, without asking. Summer would mean many days out there that she was looking so forward to.
Just a Matter of Time
Katie’s grandmother’s reign on her was not so tight this summer as it had been at Easter time. Did she realize this was no fun for a child or did Katie’s mother mention something to her? Katie had no idea but she was running free and enjoying her time back as she had when she was under five. Then too, as under five when she was told never go near the river, she disobeyed. It drew her as did the train tracks that would surely have a train go by if she waited long enough.
She had no watch nor any idea what the train schedule was. She only knew it was long after breakfast and shortly before supper when her grandmother would call her in. It was a long wait and she could not hurry to the river and be missed so she played around the yard and long field in front of the house.
This is where the blackberries grew. Although they would get too thick to get through later in the summer, now Katie could get by the path to the fence. A little girl her age lived on the other side and even though her grandmother would not let her go to her house they could talk at the fence.
This girl had a brother and sister almost as big as Katie’s older ones and the brother had tried to be mean to Katie more than once. If he caught them standing there talking Katie would leave quickly because of the look on his face and the rush he made toward them always scared her.
Hearts Have Little Reasoning
She had no idea why he didn’t like her but he had thrown rocks at her when her grandmother sent her to the store. It was about a half mile down the hardtop road and across a bridge. Her grandmother had written a list and the items would be put on her bill. Katie had to pass by their house and the boy was down over the hill toward the river with rocks aplenty.
One rock struck her and hurt very bad but a man standing in front of his business had seen her get hit and found out what was going on. He warned Katie to walk on the other side of the road going home. He would look after her as far as he could and she was less likely to be seen from there. She also did this on the way home although the walkway was more narrow. Then too a stream ran there not allowing Katie as much room out of the highway. But there were not many cars on this highway. She was quick though and made it home without incident.
When Katie told her grandmother of this she said it was no doubt because she would not allow Katie to play with the little sister. She would only say she had her reasons when Katie tried to find out why she could not play with her. That is why Katie only met at the fence with this little sister to talk whenever she could while her grandmother was busy cleaning. The little girl had given up begging Katie to come over and they would just stand to talk about little or holding hands through the fence. Surely that could not hurt anything.
Katie had played in the river here when she was so tiny. Her two young uncles watching over her left her here in the flat rock area that went halfway across the river. While they swam and went out in their boat Katie played here where she could be seen and play safely.
When there had been no heavy rains it was so perfect for a child to spend hours in safety. Sometimes Katie would go in a little deep and dog paddle as her uncles had taught her to do. It did not seem wrong then to do it when they were not there any longer. She had been alright every time.
This day though the water was swift and she was being carried away! The way the water had pulled over her ankles she should have known not to go in. She could not swim and the water was hard to fight just paddling. She fought as hard as she could to go through the deep river toward the bank. She knew she would never make it but then the older sister and brother came in to save her and brought her to the edge of the bank. She had never seen them before here although they did live very near the river here.
She was so thankful! She would have surely been carried down that dark ugly river and maybe never been found. Her feet were on the bottom now and she pulled to get out of the river with both arms aching from her battle.
This brother and sister would not let her go! They pulled her underwater and she swallowed so much. Spitting and coughing she managed to pull away and get up on the bank with them begging her to come back.
Saved by the Train
She was so scared when they started coming after her and as weak as she was she dug at the sand on the steep bank to go up to her grandparent's backyard. She felt sure that even though they had saved her they planned now to drown her! Her throat and nose stung with the water already swallowed. She had never been so afraid. Her heart was racing!
Suddenly Katie heard the chug of the train wheels coming up the track on the other side of the river. This stopped her attackers in their tracks as they looked over, for the conductor would see them. Katie used this to go even quicker up the hillside and there was no danger to her now for to be at the top was to be in the backyard and just feet from her grandmother's house.
Did she imagine this? Were these kids just playing with her or might this have been the death of her? Her heart pounded in her ears as she ran to the meter under the tall porch were she always hung her dry towel and clothes. She got dressed and dried her hair as quickly as she could and sat in the sun as she always did to finish drying it before she went inside.
She heard the train whistle blowing but she was not there to wave or see the train go by. She wondered if she would have been if she had stayed. She felt so sure she would have not. This day she had learned a serious lesson about minding adults.
She wondered many times if that train had saved her life? She truly believed that it had.
© 2017 Jackie Lynnley