Broken Wings (Broken Wings 1) - Page 130

“Buster, you want to start carving the chicken?” Aunt Mae Louise asked him sharply.

“What? Oh, yeah,” he said, and began.

After everything was brought out, we sat and Uncle Buster recited a prayer. Aunt Mae Louise kept her head bowed, but I could see her eyes were lifted enough to watch me.

“You use the smaller fork for your salad,” she instructed.

“Why do we need two?” I asked, just curious.

“That’s the way a proper table is set. I’m not surprised you haven’t ever sat at one except the times you were here and obviously forgot.”

“It’s been a long time since we had dinner here,” I remarked. I had to admit to myself that her cooking was good. She had done something to make the potatoes delicious, too.

“You were always invited for the holidays, but your mother had something better to do, like hang out at some sleazy gin palace, I suppose. Even though she was impossible, I did my best to help that girl, but when the devil gets a good grip on you and you don’t care…”

“Amen to that,” Uncle Buster said, chewing vigorously on his chicken leg.

“How come Mama fell to the devil and you didn’t?” I asked. I was really curious about their upbringing, but she took it like a slap on the face.

“What’s that supposed to mean? You think our mama and daddy were bad people? They did their best to show that girl the right ways. She was just born to be bad. Nothing they did worked, and they tried. We all tried, even after your daddy made a fool of himself and married her. Just look at you. Look at what she wrought.”

Tears felt like little drops of burning acid under my lids, but I didn’t let them out. I looked down and ate in silence. I am in hell, I thought. She didn’t have to threaten me with it.

“Don’t you take another tablespoon of those potatoes, Barbara Ann. You got weight to lose,” Aunt Mae Louise snapped, and Barbara Ann’s hand recoiled like a snake. She went into a pout. Aunt Mae Louise turned back to me.

“What’s this I hear about you and some white boy on the bus?” she demanded.

“What?” I looked up at her and then at Barbara Ann, whose pout changed quickly to a smug smile on her lips.

“Not there five minutes and you make a scene?”

“I didn’t make any scene. There was an empty seat beside him so I sat there. What did she tell you?”

“Never mind that. You be sure you don’t bring any disgrace to our front door,” she warned.

The mashed potatoes choked in my throat. I glanced at Uncle Buster, who still had a little of that look of surprise in his face from when I had come in wearing the dress. He ate and was silent like someone who was himself an invited guest at the table and had no right to speak.

“We’ll clear the dishes and bring in the cups for your uncle Buster’s and my cup of coffee.”

“I don’t get any?”

“Children don’t need coffee,” she remarked.

“I’m not a child.”

“Girl,” she said, standing and leaning toward me, “until you learn to behave like a proper young lady and not some urban alley cat, you’re a child. You don’t become an adult because you turn a certain age. That’s the trouble with young people today, right, Buster?”

“Amen to that,” he said, nodding and wiping his mouth.

“Last Sunday, the minister said we should issue licenses for adulthood and not let anyone drive a car, marry, or have children until they pass a test. We coddle and spoil our youngsters so much, we stop them from learning how to be responsible citizens.”

“As ye sow, so shall ye reap,” Uncle Buster recited.

“Amen,” Aunt Mae Louise said.

“I guess the next thing we’ll do is pass the plate for donations,” I quipped, much louder than I intended.

Aunt Mae Louise looked like she was going to pop her eyes out onto the table. Uncle Buster dropped his jaw. Little Jake looked like he was going to laugh, and Barbara Ann bit down on her lower lip.

Tags: V.C. Andrews Broken Wings Horror
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