Friday, July 7, 2017

Bedtime Queries

Bedtime Queries
Bobby Derie

"We never burned witches," the old woman said. "Because that would be wasteful."

The fever had not yet come into its own, but the bed had been drawn closer to the fire, and Grandmother Worm sat up with her late into the night, smoking her pipe and answering her questions.

"Did you love grandpa?" the girl asked.

"He was a keeper," Grandmother Worm's knitting needles clicked. "I knew that when didn't even flinch when it was time to hide the body." Click click. "Shared secrets can bind some people together, and break others apart. Remember that, child." Click click. "Never make someone an accessory unless you can trust them. Otherwise, they're just witnesses. And you remember what I said about witnesses?"
"Dig another grave."
"That's right, darling." Click click. "That's exactly right. Your grandpa understood that. And understanding is the basis of all relationships."

"You met on the farm, right?"

"Yes," the needles stopped, and the old woman laid a cold hand on the girl's brow. "Ye're going to the farm, when you're well. It's time for ye to learn about the rams and the ewes." Grandmother Worm knocked her pipe into the fireplace.

"You mean the birds and the bees?" The girl asked.

"Never had to castrate a bee or clean up a bird's abortion storm." The old woman said. "So I'm thinkin' no." 

There were no more questions, after that. Only the crackle of the fire.

The old woman's eyes got hazy as she stared into the fire. "I've known women that cried over the pigs they raised," Grandmother Worm held the sick girl's hand in her own. "An' sheep, and rabbits, chicken and's hard not to love a livin' thing, raised by your own hand. You git to know it. Love it." The feverish girl murmured in her dreams. "An' yet the time came, I never knew a one that didn't sharpen the knife and do what must be done. A body's got to eat."


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