Page 88 - November 2020
P. 88

November 2020           88
                      Litterateur



                                                     DESERT CANDLE

               Ashley knew Mommy and Morgan were doing something the cops didn’t like. They
               were always tellin’ her not to talk to people and people like Wade and Joel’s folks
               didn’t act happy to talk to them. She didn’t want to be friendly to Joel’s mom, an
               old bag in dirty sweats. Mommy wasn’t fat and she wore new jeans and pretty tops.
               Ashley wanted to be with mommy – or at least to find something pretty to look at.
               At  their  old  house  there  were  trees  and  flowers  and  a  swimming  pool  and  nice
               chairs.  The  house  was  nice,  too.  Ashley  missed  her  own  room  where  she  had  a
               pink  bedspread  and  her  good  dolls  and  toys.  Mostly,  she  missed  Daddy.  She
               wanted  to  go  back  to  the  old  house,  but  Mommy  said  it  was  sold.  Mommy  said
               Daddy was sick, and anyway, he wasn’t sending money anymore.


                           Nothing was pretty here. It was all just crunchy dirt and some weeds that
               didn’t even look like weeds, they were so dried up. Ashley wasn’t sure if she could
               walk to town, or what she would do if she got there, but she got out on the road. It
               was made of red crunchy dirt with a kind of orange crust and it smelled oily. She
               walked for a while and then some boys came by riding fast on dirt bikes yelling
               “Beep! Beep!”  She moved over to the side of the road and started walking faster. It
               was really hot out and she started getting sweaty, but she found that if she slowed
               down, just a little, the sweat dried up – or maybe it even stopped. She wasn’t sure
               which, but she stopped having to wipe her forehead with the back of her arm, if she
               walked at just the right speed.

                           Pretty soon, the road started to go up – just a little bit, but she was walking
               uphill.  It  made  her  pant  a  little  bit.  After  awhile,  she  could  look  down  and  see
               something besides just the road and empty lots. Was it a house? Mom and Morgan

               hardly ever took her to town with them, and even if they did, it was usually after
               dark, maybe to catch a movie and go shopping over at Victorville.  She wasn’t sure
               which way to walk to find town, town or even a 7-11 store. She wished she could
               see a real house again, just to sit and look at it. She wouldn’t bother the people.
               Mommy never wanted her to bother the people who lived in houses.  Since  they
               moved here, they didn’t know any people who lived in houses, only people in RVs
               and vans or cars on the lots and some other people who came to the RV late at
               night after she and Billy were supposed to be in bed.


               She started walking faster toward the house. She didn’t notice her feet on the road,
               or how fast the sun was moving toward the way-off hills. She got in a rhythm like in
               her old dance class: step, step, skip, step – step, step, step & turn -- but she didn’t
               skip or turn, she just walked, thinkin’ about bein’ in dance class. Then, suddenly,
               she fell! Her hands hit the crunchy ground first, then her knees, kind of sideways,
               then her elbows, then her butt, and then the side of her head.
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