Ruth Long’s Picture Choice: Two
Title: Knee High to a Grasshopper
She weren’t much to look at when I first seen her, but in two shakes of a billy-goat’s tail, I knowed she was sumthin’ special.
It all started when Doc Cooper asked me to pick up Maybelle Turner’s niece and bring her with me to the Milton’s farm. Said she had a way with young ’uns, and seeing how Mrs. Milton was sick-a-bed-two-chairs, that’d come in mighty handy.
The girl didn’t say nuthin’ on the ride out to the Miltons but she sure enough kept them kids hopping once we got there. They was busier than junebugs on flag day. Jumping hopscotch in the dirt out front of the porch, coloring with chalk on the barn walls and playing ring-around-the-posies in the alfalfa field. She read ‘em books, singed ‘em songs, and gave ‘em piggy-back rides.
I know she done all that ‘cause I was watching from the pig pen where I was helping Doc and Mr. Milton tend a soured sow. Girl had legs long as a colt’s, hair thick as a horse’s mane and eyes just as sweet as a rabbit’s. Never had much time for dilly-dallying with females what with my veterinarian studies and apprenticeship, but I coulda spent all day trailing in her wake.
Cricket. That’s what folks called her. But I thought it shoulda been grasshopper, with all that energy and leaping from one thing to the next. Doc said her given name was Earlene. That goes good with Anders, don’t it? Franklin and Earlene Anders. Yeah, that’d look real nice on the mailbox.
Long about dusk, she come out onto the porch and hollered that supper was ready. Soon as my teeth sunk into them fried potatoes, I was wondering what size ring would fit her. Girl could tend children and cook, for sure. But there was one thing more I had to know before I ordered that mailbox lettering. Did she have an affinity for animals?
Me and Doc went back out to check on the sow, and seeing how she was recuperating right proper, I went to the next pen, scooped up a brand new piglet and brung it into the house to show them kids, but she’d already popped ‘em into bed. Well, all but the baby, that is, and he was sittin’ in that big porcelain kitchen sink lettin’ her get him washed up like he was a regular baby doll, all suds and smiles.
She musta heared my boots, ‘cause she turned around and caught me staring at her from the doorway. She took one look at that piglet, took him outta my arms, and dunked him into the sink right there beside that pudgy baby boy, and scrubbed ‘em both clean as new fallen snow. Then quick as a bunny, she wrapped that piglet in an apron and handed him back to me, lifted the baby outta the sink and wrapped him in a cloth diaper and jammies.
I was still standing there, looking like a fox in the henhouse, when she went into the living room, settled into the rocking chair and sang the little one to sleep. I know she sang him to sleep because I was leaned up against the doorjamb, listenin’ and wishin’ it was her in my arms instead of that doggone piglet.
Weren’t long after that she was wearing my ring, picking out those mailbox letters and tending chickens in the coop I built her as a wedding gift. Before the year was out, she was washing our very own pudgy baby boy in the kitchen sink. And I tell you what, my whole life long, I never did see anything so beautiful as my little knee high to a grasshopper bride.
A reader by birth, paper-pusher by trade and novelist by design, story-telling in my passion. If you enjoyed reading today's story, please consider checking out my blog bullishink.com, joining my creative community sweetbananaink.com or participating in the madcap twitter fun @bullishink.