A very short story about a little girl named Annie.
|Her mother's eyes had a way of changing from green to brown, depending on her mood. She called them "bedroom" eyes. Today they were brown, like the color of churned-up mud on a rain-soaked cow path. Annie couldn't say why they were brown, or why her mother felt compelled to yell at no one in particular while cooking the franks and beans that were to be dinner. Only that she knew it would be best to stay out of the way. Safer to play with her older sister's dolls in the far corner of the living room, where all the dust bunnies hung out.|
Annie picked up her favorite doll, Skipper, with a shaking hand, softly singing to herself. With her brown eyes and brown, straight hair down to her shoulders with sweeping bangs, Annie was the life-size twin to Skipper. The shattering of glass hitting the floor made Annie jump, her mother's voice screeching bad words that once got her a bruising smack across the face by her father for repeating. The smell of burned beans had finally seeped into her corner. Skipper wrinkled her nose at the putrid smell.
"No dinner for you, Skipper. Bad girls go to bed on empty tummies." Annie pushed together the dusty tumbleweeds in the shape of a bed, laid Skipper down on her back, and covered her with a crocheted pink blanket sized perfectly for Skipper that her mother had made.
She heard the screen door squeak open, and she peaked up over the cat that was sitting on the arm of the sofa as her older sister walked into the house.
"Janey, is that you?," yelled her Mother. "I told you to be back a half hour ago." Her voice got louder as she stomped out of the kitchen, rumbled through the dining room toward the front door where Janey hesitated, her hand still on the door knob. Janey lunged in the other direction, her long ginger hair following, away from the menacing voice. Mother loomed into view as she came around the corner, holding a heavy wooden spoon like a tennis player waiting for a serve.
Annie hunkered down, nestling herself into the corner where the sofa nearly met the wall, her small hands muffling her ears, while the cat skedaddled off the couch to its own hiding place under the TV stand, eyes glowing caution-yellow. Girl, feline and doll knew the chase was on.
Her mother and Janey raced around the center staircase, her sister trying to escape to her room upstairs or back out any door, her mother cutting her off every time, surprising for such a tubby woman. The catch-me-if-you-can while maintaining a steady rant at full volume finally wore her mother down, allowing Janey to break the tie. Looking out the picture window, Annie watched her fly free off the front stoop, turn to give her mother the bad finger and yell back, "Take your damn meds, you crazy bitch!", and jog down the road.
The immediate silence was frightening.
"Annie, where are you?" called out her mother.
"Just stay where you are 'til Daddy comes home, then Mother will behave," whispered Skipper, sitting up with her stiff legs straight out and flat, shoeless feet pointing up at the ceiling, right arm extended and hand flexed like a school crossing guard.
"Come on, Annie, time for dinner," said her mother.
Annie shifted onto her knees. "You'd rather eat burnt beans than stay safe with me?" asked Skipper, her mouth puckered into an 'oh' of surprise that didn't reach her brown eyes.
"Don't want to make Mommy mad." The little girl poked her head up. What color were Mother's eyes?
"Ah, there you are. Be a good girl and wash your hands."
Green would be so much better than brown, thought Annie. The little girl stood up and walked toward her mother. Walking passed the woman, shoulders hunched and eyes on her little feet, she tensed up as she felt the breeze of the spoon before it smacked her back side. Nope, definitely brown.