A Ragged Bunch and A Motley Crew, Chapter Three
by Echo Lewis, illustrated by Elaine Blier
A serialized story for the summer of 2003
Over the next couple of years, Laura's solitary world under the porch became a favorite place of refuge for her. She went there when the arguing and yelling began and also when her father went away for days or weeks at a time.
She could forget that she missed him as she looked out over the big, beautiful desert sands and sky in front of her.
Out there, too, she could forget her fear that it might be her fault that he went away.
She thought it must be her fault, because he would yell at her about something she was doing wrong and the next day he would be gone.
Her mother never said why her father left or when he would be back. Laura was sure this meant that her mother thought it was Laura's fault too.
`When her mother asked Laura why she spent so many hours under the porch, she just said, "I like playing there."
Her mother didn't question her any further. It seemed like a pretty safe place. She had enough on her mind without having to worry about where Laura was all the time and what she might be getting into.
The year Laura turned five her father went away for an especially long time. Then her mother got a letter and she told Laura that they were going to join him in a new, far away place.
Laura liked the long, winding train ride across the country and she was excited, deep inside, about seeing her father again. But, she was afraid too.
What if she did something to make him get mad and go away again? What would she and her mother do then?
He met them at the train station, hugged her mother and then turned to Laura. She stood very still looking up at him, not daring to move a muscle. She hoped that he wouldn't get mad.
Her father looked back at her. He had planned to give her a big hug, but decided not to since Laura looked so terrified.
Laura, mistaking his hesitation for rejection, thought, "It's no use. He must still be mad at me from before."
In mute misery she followed her parents to the waiting car.
Sitting alone in the back seat surrounded by suitcases and boxes, she told herself, "It doesn't matter."
And she re-entered her quiet, solitary, safe world where she didn't ever need anybody else.
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