I woke up in my bed with the sun shining through my bedroom window. It was just a dream. Jumping from bed, I shook my head back and forth trying to rid myself from the remnants of the nightmare. My body ached as I made my way into the bathroom to wash my face. The cold water felt good against my skin. Grabbing a towel, I dried my face and glanced into the mirror.
My breath hitched in my throat at the reflection staring back at me. On my forehead was a large gash. The edges of the wound were purple and tender.
Panic started to build as I recalled the dream from last night. I rushed into the living room to find pappy, but he wasn’t asleep in his chair.
It wasn’t a dream.
I fell to the floor landing on my scraped knees. My chest tightened, and I felt the air rush from my lungs due to my shock. Pappy died last night, and some stranger brought me home.
Placing my head between my knees, I took several deep breaths as I tried to pull myself together.
Pappy was gone. Without him, I have no reason for living. He was my father, my savior, and my reason for living. Without him, I would not be who I am today.
When life gets you down, sweet pea, only you can pick yourself back up. Recalling his voice, tears streamed down the corners of my eyes.
We were supposed to go to the marketplace this weekend to get him some new books. No. That’s not right. I gave my days to Val.
Pulling myself up from the floor, I stepped into my shoes and headed out the door towards the nursery. If I don’t show up today, then Val and Danny will be cast out of the city. I lost Pappy. I will not lose Val too.
I made it to the nursery just as the first bell rung. Boss Gage threw me a disgusted look as I plucked an empty basket from the stack at the turn-in and started on my line. My fingers worked the row on autopilot. My mind was blank. Too much had happened too quickly. What was I supposed to do now that pappy is gone?
Tears continuously fell down my cheeks as thoughts of pappy consumed my mind. The whistle blew for lunch, but I wasn’t hungry, so I continued working down my line. I still have Val’s line to do today before I can go home.
Home. The small one-bedroom apartment couldn’t be considered home anymore. Home was where pappy was. I couldn’t go back to the apartment without him there.
Boss Gage walked across the catwalk overhead and yelled down to me, but I ignored him. Within a few minutes, he had come down from the catwalk and stood in the path of the row I was working.
“You’ve got some never, Phoebe. Working like this isn’t going to get you out of here any sooner,” Gage said. “What happened to your head? Did you get into a fight with your old man?”
Blood rushed to my face and I could feel my cheeks turn red with anger. Boss Gage had no right to talk about pappy that way. I wanted to protest and tell him to cut it out, but no words would come from my mouth. It was like I had lost the ability to speak. I had become aphasic.
Boss Gage reached down and grabbed my shirt by the shoulder pulling me to my feet. He stood so close I could smell the stink of breath as he spoke. “I have had enough of your attitude for today,” Gage said in a sardonic tone. He released my shirt and I fell back to the floor beside my basket. “Yesterday you were full of fighting spirit, but today you are like a dead person.”
Dead person. I guess he was right. I lost pappy. He was the light of my life and my reason for living. Without him, what is my purpose? What am I supposed to do?
Gage kicked my basket over spilling the contents on the nursery floor before turning on his heel and walking away. The whistle blew signaling the end of the lunch period and all the workers returned to their rows.
I finished my row about an hour before the last whistle blew. My fingers ached, and blood mixed with dirt from a cut I had gained when pulling a thistle from the dirt. It stung, but I couldn’t have cared less. A small cut was nothing. Thoughts of pappy’s face, the bruises his pale complexion as I held him in the middle of the street, he endured far worse than I ever had.
The last whistle blew and soon the nursery emptied leaving me alone to finish Val’s line. It was well past midnight when I finally finished and dropped the last basket at the turn-in. My back ached from stooping for so long.
There was no way I was going to go home at this time of night. Not again. Walking up the flight of stairs to the roof, I settled against the nursery wall and stared up at the stars overhead. A verse, one of pappy’s favorites, came to mind as I watched the stars above blink their eyes.
He counteth the number of the stars; He calleth them all by their names. Great is our Lord and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite. He upholdeth the meek and brings the wicked down to the ground. (Psalm 147:4-6)
Upholdeth the meek? I laughed to myself at the thought. Anger welled inside me, and I wanted to bellow into the night releasing my fury against God for stealing pappy away from me. But my throat felt like it had been scoured with sandpaper. No words would come out. Instead, I gave into my sadness and sobbed quietly into the night. It wasn’t long until my weariness won, and sleep finally overtook my senses. I drifted off into dreamlessness.
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