Locked Away

Beads of filthy sweat rolled down my temples as I clenched my left eye shut to peer through the wooden slats. With only a half inch of space I could almost see the front door in the middle of the deck. The three stairs were visible, but I still couldn’t hear anything except my own breath. The sun was beginning to set, which would soon bring the cool night and sometimes I could even see one or two stars. The middle of the day was always the hardest. Mostly because the stuffy heat of the shed made my head spin. 

Daddy liked to put me in the shed. He said that it keeps me out of trouble. He would always say, ‘Becky, you don’ wan’ them thieves comin’ and takin’ you way from me, now do ya?’ 

I told him that I didn’t like to always be in the the shed, but he said it’s the best way to keep me safe. It’s not that bad when dusk begins to take over the sky. Sometimes Daddy will let me out for a spell and when I’m real good he lets me sleep on the bed.

My stomach rumbled. I hope that Daddy will let me eat tonight. I was lucky to eat breakfast yesterday, but the hunger pains were setting in again. They always did. 

I sat down on the floor of dirt, spreading a gush of dust particles to dance in the sun light shining through the sideboards. A squeak of the screen door traveled through the slats. Pushing my nose to the wall, I could see Daddy. My tummy grumbled again.

He stumbled out the door and let it slam. I held my breath as I saw his heavy body stagger from side to side just before he tumbled down the three stairs in front of the houseA bowl of food hit the ground, toppling over its contents into the ravenous dirt. My tummy grumbled at the sight.  Stomach down he laid motionless on the ground as a cloud of dust settled around him. 

Daddy liked to drink the brown stinky stuff. And always he acted funny when he did it. He wasn’t able to walk straight and he’d stumble around yelling at blank walls that would never talk back. 

Momma used to tell me, ”He’s a good man, Becky, he is. But sometimes a good man can get lost along the way.”

I never knew what that meant. Momma died two years ago. I found her in the corn. She was lying by the windmill. Whenever I think of it all I can remember is the blood. Lots of blood. The policeman told me that it was an accident and that she fell down real hard on her head, but I think that she was just real sad. Momma never smiled or laughed like other mommas did. Momma cried a lot. She tried to hide it, but I always knew. 

There were times that I’d see her reading those letters she’d kept in a box under the floor. She didn’t think I was watching, but I watched her, always. Her long wavy hair was the color of the beach and it glistened when the sun hit it just right. I missed Momma. She never used to put me in the shed, and Daddy was nice when Momma was alive. Except for when he was drinking the brown stuff. 

Daddy lay still in front of the ancient steps, but I didn’t stare at Daddy. I couldn’t take my eyes off the bowl. It was the bowl that momma would fill with warm oatmeal every morning. After setting the bowl on the table, she’d kiss my head and tell me how much she loved me. I missed Momma. 

The food in the bowl looked like Daddy’s usual. He made beans. Lots and lots of beans. Brown sauce laid to rest on his arm. I would starve tonight. Again

Groaning, I pushed myself away from the shed walls. I curled up in my favorite corner of the red shed. I’d have to make it through another night and day without eating.