Grandma’s Apron

GRANDMA’S APRON

© Mary M. Cushnie-Mansour

 

Alexis turned onto the walkway that led up to her grandma’s house. She opened the front door. The hinges creaked with age. “Grandma!” 

            The furniture looked unusually dusty. 

            “In the kitchen dear.”

            Her grandma was sitting in an old rocker by her stove. There was a chair beside her. “Sit down dear, I have something for you. Would you mind pouring me a cup of tea first, though––get yourself a drink too.”

            Drinks in hand and back in the chair, Alexis asked, “What’s up, Grandma?”

            Her grandma placed a package on Alexis’ lap. “Open it, love.”

            Alexis opened the package and felt a twinge of disappointment when all she saw was her grandma’s tattered old apron. The elderly woman sensed her granddaughter’s disappointment.

            “That apron belonged to my mother.”

            “Even worse than I imagined,” Alexis thought.

            “It will be easier to tell its story if you put it on dear.”

            Alexis humoured her grandmother. The story began the moment she tied the bow…

“My mother made this apron from a piece of cotton her mother gave her.   She was told an apron would be one of her most valuable tools in life. Oh, I am sure my mother might have laughed, inside, as did I when it was passed to me, and as did your mother when I passed it to her. Unfortunately, with your mother’s untimely passing, this legacy has been returned to me to pass on to you.

“Now, for the story … listen carefully, because one day you will pass this on to your child. The original fabric was bright red––hard to see now because of all the patches––but, there is a story for every patch, as well.

“See this blue tear drop shaped one in the corner … that’s the one that was used to dry my mother’s tears, mine and your mother’s. Touch it, see if you can feel the tears in the cloth.”

Alexis was surprised, the patch felt damp.

“Even dried a few of your tears, dear.”

Alexis remembered.

“See this patch … this was from my mother’s Sunday go-to-meeting dress.  It covered a hole where the material burned through when mother was taking a hot pot from the oven in the wood cook stove. I remember the terrible burn on her hand too.”

Grandma sipped her tea. “In the early mornings, we’d go out to the chicken coop; mother would hold the apron; I’d gather, and then set the eggs in it.   Sometimes, we would have to bundle the hatchlings up in the apron on an extremely cold winter day, before taking them up to the house so that they wouldn’t freeze.”

Grandma began to ramble…

“In the summer, when the men were in the fields, mother would ring the dinner bell and then wave her apron so they would know she was calling them for a meal, not an emergency … see this patch … it is from an old pair of curtains that used to hang in our sitting room. A piece of kindling ripped a hole there … your mother was so shy she used to hide behind my apron whenever we had company … I used to play peek-a-boo with you––you liked this patch the best.”

Grandma pointed to a piece of white material with red polka-dots. “That was one of your mother’s Sunday dresses. It covers a hole from a downward pointing squash stem…

“See this one,” grandma pointed to the opposite corner from the teardrop patch. “My mother used this one to wipe her brow; one side for sweat and one side for tears, she would say.”

Grandma finished her cup of tea. The cup rattled as she set it on the saucer. Alexis noticed the pain flirt through the old eyes. “Your grandpa was always surprising me with unexpected company. It was a Saturday night, and the house was a mess after a busy week of canning, and he gave me only a half hour notice that he was bringing his boss home for supper. Besides cooking extra food, I gave the furniture a good dusting with the apron. See this piece––it was from grandpa’s favourite shirt––I used that to hide the tear I put in the apron when it got caught on a nail on the side of the buffet as I was dusting that day.”

Alexis learned how her mother used to pick fruit and carry them in grandma’s apron … she learned how grandma used to wrap her mom up in the warm apron when she came in from school on cold, rainy days … she learned how, one day, a hired hand had ridden one of her great-grandfather’s horses too hard and the apron had been used to rub the horse down … she learned, most of all, that this apron was a valuable piece of her family history.

Grandma sat back in her rocker. Her eyes closed.

“Grandma, before I leave, would you like me to help you up to bed?”

“No child, I just want to sit a bit longer.”

As Alexis walked home, her tears began to pour. She lifted the teardrop patch to her eyes, and so began the stories of the next generation.

 

 

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Over and out for today – Mary M. Cushnie-Mansour, Writer on the Run
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The battle is not yet over, and I have dropped into second place!!!! I need your votes … I need your friends’ votes … If you haven’t already done so, please vote for my blog: “Writer on the Run” and if you would like to take a look at what you are voting for, here is the link: http://bit.ly/IMBXsLhttp://www.undergroundbookreviews.com/3/post/2012/08/battle-of-the-book-review-blogs.html
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The battle is not yet over, and I have dropped into second place!!!! I need your votes … I need your friends’ votes … If you haven’t already done so, please vote for my blog: “Writer on the Run” and if you would like to take a look at what you are voting for, here is the link: http://bit.ly/IMBXsL http://www.undergroundbookreviews.com/3/post/2012/08/battle-of-the-book-review-blogs.html
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The Left of Centre Theatre Festival

Another quiet, non-descript Friday night wondering what to do … not. I decided, on the special invitation from a young friend, to wander into downtown Brantford, ON, and take in a couple of local theatre productions. The presentations were the work of “The Left of Centre Theatre Festival,” which was born earlier this year to replace the annual “Cobblestone Theatre Festival” from Paris, ON.

Jenn, my young friend, had been very excited about the play she was acting in, “Hillary’s Par Four,” written by Annie Evel and directed by Evelyn Participato. Jenn plays the naive niece of Hillary, and she was exposed to the inside world of her aunt and her aunt’s golfing buddies. Mayhem breaks out as news of “an infedelity” taking place within their close-knit little group is revealed, and the golf clubs get left at the course. A comedy with a twist of seriousness. Well done, Jennifer Sywyk. And also to “the foursome” … Yvonne Beaver, Rose Huysentruyt-Closs, Seivon Kwan, Susan McNeil, and the lone male, Peter Frame.

The main attraction of the evening was “Much Ado About Nothing,” written by William Shakespeare, and adapted and directed by Hugh Sutherland, and presented by Trinity Miracle Players and Two Masks Entertainment. Does an age-old story of love and match-making ever grow boring? This production will entertain you, as you follow along with the lives of two head-strong individuals who are sworn to not fall in love and become trapped in the web of marriage. However, others, within the realm of family and freinds begin to plot and plant seeds in the heads of “confirmed bachelor, Benedict,” and the “fiery tempered Beatrice.” A sub-plot of innocent love almost thwarted by a black heart, and some comedic police work all make this an enjoyable production.

One thing that will make this adventure into theatre even more enjoyable is the joy of seeing so many young people pouring their hearts out on stage. When there is so much negative about our youth in the news today, it is nice to see.

There are three more shows this weekend: Saturday afternoon at 2:00, Saturday evening at 7:30, and Sunday afternoon at 2:00. They are being presented in the old Art’s Block building, right across from Harmony Square in downtown Brantford, ON. And, they are well worth the $10.00 admission fee to support young talents!

For more information on these productions, and up-coming events, check out www.ichthystheatre.ca  Happy theatre going, everyone…Signing off for today, Mary M. Cushnie-Mansour, “Writer on the Run!”

 

Blind Justice

BLIND JUSTICE

© Mary M. Cushnie-Mansour

 

Karen groped around in the room. Someone had rearranged her furniture––why? She moved further into the space, heading for her kitchen. Damn! Where had this wall come from?

            A rustling sound permeated the silence. Karen’s head turned to the left, toward where her bedroom should be. She reached out and touched the wall, it would guide her.

            “Who’s there?” she called out nervously.

            There was something rubbing around her legs, something soft. She reached down, and her finger tips dug into feline fur. But she didn’t have a cat!

            Karen heard the rain start as it began pummelling against the windows. A louder, tapping sound joined the raindrops. What could be making that noise?––she didn’t have trees close to her windows.

            She continued to follow the wall, her heart thumping on overdrive. A doorway opened to her probing fingers. She stepped inside. Cold ceramic tiles greeted her socked feet. This was not her bedroom!

            What was that smell––such an over powering stench? As Karen dared further into what seemed to be the bathroom, her ears picked up a dripping sound. She stepped gingerly forward; her feet collided with something damp. Karen bent down, and her fingers touched what seemed to be a wet towel, but it wasn’t just water, it felt sticky! She touched her finger to her tongue––blood?

            The dripping … the tapping … the rubbing feline … the floor … the changed landscape of the apartment … Karen continued moving forward, caution thrown aside. Her toes touched the edge of the bathtub. It was solid, unlike her old fashioned claw-foot tub. The dripping sound was extremely loud now. Karen reached where she assumed a faucet would be. Her hand brushed across something that reminded her of bloody, matted hair, as hers had been on the day a bullet had grazed her head, the day she’d lost her sight.

            Karen began to back away from what she suspected may be in the tub. The feline let out a yowl as Karen tripped over it. She was falling on the slippery floor … down … down … no more sound…

* * *

            “Do you think she did it?” A voice punctured Karen’s groggy awakening.

            “Her prints are all over the apartment, on the water faucet, too. Looks like she smashed his head against it pretty hard––guy bled out in the water.”

            “Yeah, I don’t understand why she left the water dripping though.”

            Who were these people? A two way radio crackled. Then a hoarse voice, one she recognized––Captain Johnston. “Sergeant Mallon, what’s the status there?”

            “Well, its not a surprise the perp didn’t come out of his apartment, he’s dead! I’d say he’s been floatin’ in the tub for at least a couple of days. Found Karen at the scene; think she might have done it.”

            “You’re kidding, I hope.”

            “Well, Captain, she does have the training and, even if she is blind, she might have pulled this off if she caught him by surprise.”

            Karen’s heart began to race. What were these guys talking about? Who was dead? Why was he being referred to as a perp? Why did they think she killed him?

            “Well, old Sam Malloney, you finally got what was coming to you, eh?” A new voice.

            Fear raced through Karen’s waking body––Sam Malloney! He was the guy who had shot her––the powerful drug lord––the man she and the team had spent a whole year staking out, waiting for him to slip up. The man she had wished, a thousand times, she could kill.

            Someone was touching her shoulder. “Karen, we have to take you in for questioning.”

            Karen recognized the voice. James. He’d been on stakeout with her; he’d been at the hospital with her; he’d heard her say how she wanted Malloney dead.

            “James?” Karen reached out and touched the face that was close to her. It felt like he hadn’t shaved for a week.

            James leaned in closer. Karen smelled the cigarette smoke on his breath, a touch of stale whiskey. “Don’t say anything Karen. I won’t give you up. Did an admirable job, though; Malloney’s had this coming for a long time!”

            “I didn’t do this!” Karen protested. She pushed herself into a sitting position. James hooked his arm around her and helped her to stand. “I won’t cuff you Karen, but I do have to read you your rights … you have the right to…”

            “No,” Karen groaned.

            “Remain silent; you have the right to…”

            “No!” she yelled, pulling away and bumping into the doorway. “I didn’t do this!”

            “Calm down,” James ordered.

            Karen felt the nausea rising in her throat; she felt that she was going to pass out again.

            “Cuff her James,” the voice who had been referred to as Sergeant Mallon commanded. “Can’t take a chance on her escaping.”

            It was at that point she remembered … as Mallon passed by … she recognized his scent … just like Mallony’s … a crooked cop … Mallon … Mallony … what was the connection … oh God … I couldn’t have … down … down … doomed … dark silence … I shouldn’t have … it was all coming back … he deserved it, though, … and it had been so easy … should have seen the evil grin on his face … but then, he had slipped … no jury would convict a blind woman…

The Gardeners – Conclusion

THE GARDENERS

Conclusion

 

© Mary M. Cushnie-Mansour

John had sent Max and Ace on ahead to get started on Betty’s landscaping, and to bury the body before it began to smell!

            “Why were the cameras on?” he demanded to know from his boss.

            “Must have gotten the wires crossed,” Mr. Fornam replied.

            “We were lucky Max caught the guard just as he was about to activate the alarm. Max went a little crazy, though––hit him too hard…”

            “You didn’t clean up your mess; the police found blood at the scene. I hope none of it belongs to you guys?” Mr. Fornam pointed to the scratch on John’s arm.

            “A cat.”

            “You have a cat?”

            “No!”

            “Ah … so that is how you got the old woman to sign for the maintenance program?”

            John nodded.

            “Nice work. Well, by summer’s end the heat should be died down on the robberies. You guys can dig up the loot when putting the garden to bed for the winter. Where did you say you were burying it?”

            “I didn’t.”

            Fornam glared at John.

            “Under the gladioli.”

            “Smart.”

            “I thought so. Glad bulbs have to be dug up in the fall.”

~

             “Can’t you control Buster and Prince?” Betty demanded.

            “Something about the tree they don’t like,” Gwen speculated.

            “Oh Gwen, it’s only a tree; the boys are just excited to be here. By the way, where is Safire?” Mildred asked.

            Betty’s stomach waved with nausea. “Sleeping,” she replied curtly.

            Gwen was annoyed. “Maybe if you invited us in for breakfast, Betty, the boys could play with that lazy cat of yours.”

            “Safire isn’t lazy.”

            “Well she is…”

            “Why don’t you two just take your dogs and go eat somewhere else!” Betty snapped. She turned and noticed Ace wheeling some boxes over to the back corner. Max was finishing up around the tree. “What’s in those boxes?” she queried.

            “Gladiola bulbs,” Ace grinned.

            “I didn’t ask for Glads.”

            “John has it on the list.”

            “When is John going to be here?”

            “Soon.”

            Betty turned and stomped into the house. Her fingers hovered over the phone. How she wanted to call the police. What were these men up to? Why was her back yard so vital to them?  Why did they have to kidnap Safire? And, oh how she hated being so brusque with her best friends, but she didn’t want them to get hurt. Betty sat down on her couch. The floodgate opened.

            She awoke to loud meowing. “Safire?” she muttered, heading to the door. And there she was––Safire––alive, and demanding to be let in! Betty opened the door, and Safire rushed in and began rubbing around Betty’s legs. Betty had never heard Safire purr so loudly. Betty thought for a moment, and then picked up the phone and dialled.

            “Hello.”

            “Is this John?”

            “Yes.”

            “Betty here … I was wondering when you were coming back to finish the job? Your boys have left quite a mess––I don’t like messes.”

            “How say, around three, so as not to disturb your nap.”

            “You’ll be coming, I hope; I need to discuss some things with you.”

            “Yes, I’ll be there.”

            “Good.”  Betty hung up, smiled, and then made two more calls.

~

            At 3:00, The Gardeners arrived. At 3:05 Gwen and Mildred arrived with the boys. It was a joyous re-union in the house at 42 Huddle Street, as Buster and Prince licked Safire all over. Betty filled her friends in on the events of the last 24 hours. 

            Another car pulled up and parked across the street from Betty’s house. Two suited men came up to her door, flashed their badges, and stepped inside. Betty motioned them toward the kitchen: “You can observe from there.” She turned to her friends: “Well girls, shall we take the boys out for some fresh air; I think Safire could use some as well.”

            The ladies headed outside with their pets. Buster and Prince made a beeline straight to the tree and started digging. Safire saw John and began growling and hissing!

            “Get those animals away from here!” John ordered as he tried to shoo the dogs away. Buster and Prince began nipping at his pant legs.

            And then Betty let Safire go. The cat instantly leapt onto John’s back. He cursed when he saw her, and then screamed as her claws ripped through his shirt!  The police officers rushed out the back door and headed off Ace and Max’s departure.

~

            The police Captain shook Betty’s hand. “You’re a brave lady,” he acknowledged. 

            Betty smiled. She was remembering the shocked look on the faces of the gardeners when the police had dug up the tree and found the security guard’s body. She was remembering their shocked expression as the bags of money were found under the gladioli! She could have carried, in a basket, the number of Glad bulbs they’d planted––she wouldn’t have needed to wheel them in! But the best moment was John’s face when he saw Safire––it was the look of utter defeat! And, it hadn’t taken long for John to give up his boss, Mr. Fornam, the owner of one of the town’s security companies.

            “Shall we go out for supper ladies?” Betty smiled to her friends and patted her purse. “It’s on the police force tonight!”

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