A jealous girlfriend tries to humiliate a busty virgin.
Sarah quietly followed us into the house and it struck me for the first time that I hadn't heard Sarah say a word.
Millie sat down her purse on the hall tree, walked into the kitchen and immediately tied on her apron, "Sarah darling, would you please show Jackson ... ah, your brother to your room. He can stay there and you can sleep with me until Daddy comes home."
Sarah almost startled me when she finally spoke, "Okay, Mama" and headed up the stairs. What she thought of as her room had been my room while I was growing up and it seemed strange to see it filled with stuffed animals and pictures of Elvis.
"Sarah," I said, "I appreciate your letting me use your room ... are you sure you don't mind?" It was awkward trying to think of something to say to an adolescent stranger who also happened to be your sister.
"No, it's okay", she flopped on the bed. "Jackson, can I ask you a ques tion?"
"Sure", I said.
"Well, Mama's been crying a lot at night. She tries to be quiet and doesn't think I can hear her, but I do. Jackson, it scares me because I think Mama is scared even more than me. Is Daddy going to die?"
The breath was wrenched from my lungs as though someone had just hit me in the stomach. I looked at her sitting there, and she so reminded me of Millie ... only a few years older than Sarah was right now when I first met her. In her eyes I could see concern and worry ... but I think mostly worry for her mother ... a child that young doesn't really comprehend the finality of death ... and I wasn't sure what to say to her. After a moment I said the only thing I knew to say, "Sarah, I don't know whether Dad ... Daddy ... is going to die or not ... I sure hope not. But, no matter what happens, I promise that you and your mother are going to be alright ... I'll make sure of that, okay?"
Millie called from the bottom of the stairs, "Supper's ready!" and Sarah got up from the bed and rushed over to hug me, "Okay Jackson, I'm glad I've got you for a big brother." Just as quickly she released me and skipped down the stairs to follow Millie into the kitchen.
I wish I could have prayed ... I know Millie and Sarah did ... but I've never had too much confidence in that sort of thing ... so I just took a couple of deep breaths, cleared my head, and started down the stairs to join them.
We ate without much talking and I began to clear away the table as Sarah started to wash the dishes. The phone rang and Millie crossed the kitchen to pick it up, "Hello" ... and there was only a minute of silence then a thud. Millie had fainted. Sarah screamed, "Mama!" and ran to her, I picked up the phone to hear, "Mrs. Emerly, Mrs. Emerly ... are you there?"
I swallowed hard and said, "No, this is Jackson Emerly, her step-son."
"Jackson, this is Dr. Carter. I'm sorry Jackson, your father died just a few minute ago. We did everything we could. It was peaceful ... he was sleeping ... there was no pain ... in fact, there is still a slight smile on his face."
I couldn't say anything, I simply hung up the phone and turned my attention to Millie and Sarah.
We buried Dad three days later in the cemetery by the little church where he and Millie were married. More than half the town was there ... including Millie's father and mother. Evidentially Dad's devotion to their daughter and granddaughter had won them over.
The next morning I sat in the kitchen with Millie over coffee. "Do you have any plans?", I asked.
Her pale face emphasized the red puffiness of her eyes, eyes that must have cried thousands of tears over the last few days. She looked up at me as though I were insane, "Jackson, I have no plans. William and Sarah have been my whole life for the past 13 years. I can't imagine what I'll do without him. I know I can't run this farm ... but it's in such sad shape it will be almost impossible to sell it. I don't know ... I just haven't had time to think."
I understood how she felt, I never could imagine a world without Dad's strength in it .