by c welch
A story I started long ago about rural mountain people. I know how fun.
|When I go don’t cry for me in my Father’s arms I’ll be. And I will not be ashamed for my saviour knows my name. It don’t matter where you barrie me, for I’ll be home and I’ll be free. It don’t matter where I lay. All my tears be washed away. For my life belongs to him who will raise the dead again. It don’t matter where I lay, all my tears will be washed away. When death comes to call on you will he know your name too?
It seems to me that the hardest part to write in a story is the beginning. You may not always know how to end or how to produce, but not knowing how to start is horrible. The story is swimming around in your head wanting to come out but it never seems to come out right. Or to come out at all in some cases. I suppose I’ll just start at the simplest part of the story. With the last words of a dieing mother.
“When I go don’t cry for me in my Father’s arms I’ll be. And I will not be ashamed for my savior knows my name.” The voice rasped under the dingy gray sheets as five sets of muddy blue eyes stared on. Nothing could be seen under the sheets. If any stranger had been precent they would have been thankful for the sheets almost gossamer presence. It was that one thin sheet that hid the unearthly body of the disfigured woman who lie dieing on the spoiled bed high up in the mountains.
They had always lived high on the mountain. When the fields turned barren and most of the families went down the hills into the towns below the Shelows stayed with a few other families that refused to let go to their past and their mountains. They farmed what they could from the dead earth and scavenged in the dark thick woods for what ever else they could. No electricity could reach high enough up the mountain to get to the remainder of the mountain people. They lived with out phones or contact from the people who lived at the bottom of the mountain. What few things they did receive from the flat Landers came with Miss. Ellen. Ellen was a missionary who came up about once a fortnight to give them flour, salt and cloth. She was a tall heavy woman with yards of yellow hair that she kept tied up in a loose messy bun. Her whole purpose in life seemed to be to convince the remaining people to come down the mountain and rejoin civilization. She was horrified by the lack of education among the children and the crude medical skills of the locals. She was even more appalled by the religious beliefs of the people. A mixture of Christianity, paganism and voodoo wrapped up in a strong belief that the mountain lived and breathed. Most of the peoples sermons and scripture readings came from the tattered old bible in the Willopy’s house. Old man Willopy would flip through the yellowing pages and recite from memory the words he had heard his father read. No one on the mountain could read or write. The words spoke of the lord and the father, the son and the Holy Ghost. But to the mountain people it all meant one thing. The mountain.
The Shelows had lived on the mountain for as long as they could remember. They had never known anything else but the mountain. For generations they had lived and procreated until the bloodline started to mingle and merge from the lack of choices on the mountains. Soon deformities started to emerge. Deformities like those on Barbara Ellen’s five boys. Barbara Ellen had raised her broad in the strict way her mother had raised her. Barbara Ellen’s sons obeyed her, feared her and loved her at the same time. They didn’t know how to live with out her. For all of Barbara Ellen’s harsh parenting she had never weaned them of needing a mother. They couldn’t cook, or wash the dishes or clean the house. They could hunt, farm, fish, build and fix what was broke but they couldn’t knit, sew or mend a stocking. They wouldn’t even bathe if Barbara Ellen didn’t hold them under the water and scrub. They would die with out her. Even if they lived the Shelow line would end. There were no cousins or aunts and uncles, just them. Barbara Ellen loved her sons but knew that no decent woman would have them. Their bodies were misshapen and too large to be normal. They walked with limps and couldn’t talk, they could only grunt. The other people on the mountain were solemn and kept to themselves; they didn’t harass the Shelows but didn’t allow their daughters to go near them either.
Barbara Ellen looked at her sons and sighed. She was old and dieing. The winters on the mountain were hard and cold. She had had a might bad cold that year and the cough and fever had not left with the frost and ice. The ground was soft and leaves started to grow green on the trees but Barbara Ellen’s winter sickness had persisted and grown worse. She was dieing and could see her sons dieing with her. It wasn’t such a bad ending she thought. Her sons could just fade away, no controversy or trouble, no little mouths to feed or small, skinny backs to cloth. Just fade away with all of their childhood innocents.
Barbara Ellen had named her sons after the names she had heard Old Man Willopy preach of when she was just a little girl. Adam, her oldest and most foolhardy, Cain and Able, barley a year apart and both touched in the head, Joshua, shy and the more normal looking one of the bunch, and last her little Simon. Barbara Ellen always thought as Simon and “mama’s little boy’ but the truth was that Simon wasn’t little. He wasn’t even medium sized. “Little” Simon was a giant among men. The youngest of five sons and the strongest and tallest. Last year when the old brown oxen had tensed and buckled under the weight of the plow Simon had taken the shaggy beast’s place and tilled the whole field. Simon had to duck to go through the door way and had to be careful not to stand up to quickly inside lest he bumped his head on the ancient wooden beams that ran along the thatched roof of the small house they lived in.
She loved all of her boys but knew deep in her heart that as soon as she left the human realm the chaos she had kept at bay for all these years would be set free. She wanted to give her boys one last thing before she went. Some sought of advice to live by. She looked Adam in the eyes, secretly she knew that it was her eldest who needed the most guidance, and said to him once again,
“When I go don’t cry for me in my Father’s arms I’ll be. And I will not be ashamed for my savior knows my name. When death comes to call on you will he know your name too?” The words were too much of an effort on the old mother. Drool had started to flow down the left side of her wrinkled yellow skin and her entire body shuddered with cold and lack of breath. She knew that this was her time to go. She looked out the window into the starry night sky over the mountain. At lest, she thought, I will die on the mountain, at lest no ones taken that from me. Her breathing grew more labored and her muscles tensed up. The last thing Barbara Ellen saw as her soul departed from this world was the bodies of two children, faces as white a death and snow and bodies ridged as week old corpses, staring at her from the corner.
Miss. Ellen watched disgusted as the five abominations lowered their dead mother into the ground. The hole was dug in un sanctioned ground and there was no funeral service or memorial service. The mountain people waited patiently at the bottom of the hill as the boys filled in the hole. No one was crying for the woman or wearing black. The children were playing in the field next to them, laughing and yelling and singing as loud as they could. The strict Christian upbringing of Miss. Ellen screamed at her that these people were unholy. They were in the hands of statan and needed to be rescused. A funeral with out a preist or black veils went against everything Miss. Ellen knew. She had spent hours up on this god forsaken mountain with these unholy people and they still acted like the godless barbarians they were. It was like they didn’t understand that she was trying to save their souls.
Miss. Ellen had come up the mountain dressed in a tight, black, pencial skirt that hugged her meaty thighs. She wore a black blose with ruffles up the front and a little black hat and veil that was pinned on the side of her head. She clutched a white handkerchief in her hand and slowly dabbed at her eyes while skillfully checking the time on her little silver wrist watch. For such strong boys they certainly did take a long time to fill in a hole. She thought to her self.