Flumes Vol. 5: Issue 1, Summer 2020 - Page 44

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Henry fusses. It’s a near three-mile walk.

“Hush yerself,” she says. “We gotta catch us a train.”

“Where we goin’?” Henry whines.

“Wherever the first train’s goin’, that’s where.” She hurries us along outside.

We walk fast, the morning’s cold as heck. A mile down the road we pass our nearest neighbor, a rich old biddy whose nose is always in everything.

Sure enough, she comes running outside.

“Yoo-hoo!” She waves from her porch. “Where y’all going, Irene?”

“Why, just into town,” says Mama, smiling sweetly.

“Did you see that big ol’ car go by? My land sakes!”

“Car?” Mama shakes her head. “Never saw no car.”

“No?” She fans herself, all dramatic like she always is. “It was almost the size of I don’t know what!”

“Why, no, we didn’t see it.” Mama makes a little curtsy. “Have a good day now, Miz Warren.”

“Mama,” I say, but she jerks my arm and moves us along at a clip.

“Mama?” Henry whispers. “Why’d that man think you was Miz Warren?” “Hush now. Let’s hurry.” There’s a Depression on, Mama likes to say, and poor folk do what we gotta do.