A Ragged Bunch and A Motley Crew, Chapter Ten
by Echo Lewis, illustrated by Elaine Blier
A serialized story for the summer of 2003
Uncle Don sat down on the bench, his back to the table.
"Sit here beside me," he motioned to Laura. "We're both too worn out to start back yet.
When she was seated, he said. "Laura, look at me."
She turned obediently to look at him. Her eyes were dull, her face lifeless.
Trying to break through her withdrawal, Uncle Don spoke slowly and clearly. He put all the persuasion he could put into his measured words.
"Laura, it wasn't your fault."
Laura continued to stare dully at him.
Uncle Don didn't give up. He kept trying to reach her enclosed, dark world.
"None of it was your fault - not your father's unhappiness, not his anger, not his going away."
Laura's mouth set itself in a firm, straight line. She tried not to listen to Uncle Don. She tried not to let his words touch her. Instead, she tried to push back the pain that was creeping into her heart again. She tried to hang onto the numbness.
Uncle Don kept on, his love for Laura adding strength to his words.
"The car accident was not your fault. Your parents' death was not your fault."
At his mention of her parents' death, Laura crumbled. She couldn't hold out against the steady flow of his words. With the pain in her heart overflowing she looked up at Uncle Don and said in helpless agony,
"They're never coming back."
Uncle Don, aching with the despair in Laura's voice, gathered the child into his arms and held her
"It's going to be all right. You're not alone anymore. You're with us now and it's going to be all right."
As he held and comforted her, Laura began to cry. All the tears that she had pushed away for so long rose and spilled out.
Knowing what Laura didn't know, that these tears were healing ones, Uncle Don breathed a prayer of thanks. He continued to hold her, rocking her gently, as he would a small child. There was nothing else he could do for her, no other way he could help ease her pain. The tears themselves would do that.
As he held and rocked her, Uncle Don talked quietly, not knowing if she was hearing him through her tears, "You don't have to be afraid anymore. I won't leave you. Aunt Amelia won't leave you. Or Christine. Tony and Andy won't leave you, either. They like you a lot, you know. We all love you very much. You're part of our family now, part of this ragged bunch of ours"
"Davey and Jennifer won't leave you, either, not really, even when they go back to school. That's not leaving you; it's just being in a different place for a while. Even when they get married and move away, it's not really leaving. It's just making the family bigger."
Uncle Don's soothing, quiet words washed gently over Laura's anguish. Along with her own tears, the words began to heal her wounded and broken heart. For the first time in her life she felt safe.
Gradually, her tears slowed and stopped. She rested peacefully in Uncle Don's arms and almost fell asleep.
"I'm tired," she murmured
"And no wonder. You've put out a lot of energy today. But, we'd better put out a little bit more now and go back to the others, before they start worrying about us.
Uncle Don lifted Laura to her feet. Together, with Uncle Don limping only the littlest bit, they walked back down the road to join the rest of the family
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Read Chapter Nine again.
Read on to Chapter Eleven