by Rogue Writer
Young woman endures life's bad moments.
Marva Harris enters Wattles Wares general store; on an unusually hot September 12th. The old store has provided the town of Melody North Carolina for over eighty years and hasn’t changed much since that time. The still air in the darkened store is not as warm as outside, but it is better than being exposed to that blinding sun.
Marva pauses at the entrance for a moment, letting her eyes become accustomed to the dark. She’s been coming here all her life; she even worked for old man Wattles for a few years after she left school.
Donny Wattle is behind the high counter; Donny is the old mans son. He’s sitting beside the wooden cash register; his apron stained and smeared with something dark that he had obviously wiped from his fingers. He’s eating a thick slice of watermelon and stops when he sees her.
With is mouth still wet from the fruit, he slowly places the rind down on the counter, “Gudday Miss Harris … Kin I help ya wit sump-thin?” Donny raises the tip of his apron to wipe his mouth.
Marva nervously shakes her head and swiftly moves to the back of the cavernous room. She maneuvers around display tables’ strewn with merchandise; painfully slamming her hip into the edge of one. At the back wall, where the old wooden ice chest holds bottles of milk, she opens the door to find only two quart bottles and finds the chest is warm. A look of disappointment rains down her face.
Her body goes ridged when she suddenly senses a presence behind her and can feel him pressing his hip against hers. “We ran outta ice last night.” She can feel his breath on the nape of her neck, “Milks gone bad …You want some melon, honey?”
She quickly moves away saying, “No Donny, all I need is milk, my baby needs milk.”
She sees a flash of anger. “You don’t call me Donny … My name’s Mister Wattle … an we ain’t haven any milk till we get a delivery, this afternoon.” The corners of his mouth turn up as he looks her up and down, whistling, “You really filled out nice since you popped out that brat. … I got some nice hot house melon we can share?” He reaches out to her cheek; she feels his sweaty fingertips on her face and tries to move away, but she’s blocked by a display table full of napkins.
“How’s the boy Mar, must be gettin ta be pretty big?” She can feel him press his thumb against her lower lip, when there’s a commotion at the front door.
“Hi Mr. Wattle …” Two neighborhood kids are standing at the door. “You got any cold soda pop?”
His eyes remain on Marva, staring down at her body, he yells back to them without turning, “ya’ll know where it is boys. Only got Orange Crush ta-day an it ain’t cold.” He’s running his fingers down along her jaw bone as he presses his thumb on her lips.
The two boys move cautiously to a shelf beside the wooden cooler; both looking cow eyed at Donny and Marva. He turns his head to look back, “Ya’ll go on now. The pops free ta-day … cause it’s so hot…” They continue to stand and stare. “Take yer pop and skedaddle. Ain’t no picture show goin on here.”
Marva raises her arm and pushes his hand away with back of hers. She’s nervous and stammers, “S s so if you ain’t got no milk … I’ll c-come back later Mr. Wattle.” He’s so close to her; she can smell his body odor and that pungent aroma of the watermelon juice.
“Now Marva …You sure, ya’ll don’t want a little melon before ya go? Ya always loved my melons when ya worked here … Remember…?”
She makes herself as skinny as possible, pressing herself against the ice box, squeezing past him; feeling him press himself against her as she moves. Making her voice as stern and she can, “Yes sir, I certainly do remember …”
The boys stand wide eyed as she takes three bottles of orange soda from the shelf. Marva gives two to the boys and holds the third like a small club. Her eyes never leaving Donny, the three of them scurried out of the store together.
Yes, Marva does remember those days when she worked there. She remembers when Mr. Wattle got sick and Donny was put in charge. That was when she fell in love with his watermelon; so sweet and delicious and so deceiving. He was so brutal; she had never known anyone like him. Now she loves her child and his father is only a sad memory; a soon to be far away and forgotten memory.
She never cared for watermelon after that.