Anna Loved Molly

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic
No one dare get in the way of Anna loving Molly.

Submitted: May 03, 2019

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Submitted: May 03, 2019

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Anna loves Molly.  

 

Loves her more than Jacob.  

 

And who can blame her?  Jacob is not much of a playmate for a restless six-year-old farm girl.  He is good at watching her, which gives Mumma some degree of comfort. Like a wise, old guard dog, he is patient and loyal and will howl as loud as he can if Anna gets into trouble, which is often the case.  

 

Anna does not like Jacob watching her all the time.  She pretends that he is just a big sack of potatoes sitting in the corner but she can't ignore the large, unblinking brown eyes that follow her every move.  His random grunts are as familiar to her as are the "creaks" and "snaps" that give the old barn its distinctive character.

 

Anna loves to tease Molly with the straw broom.  Molly loves to be teased. Or maybe he just misunderstands its gaming nature.  He makes quick, assassin-like assaults on the broom as it is swished across the gritty floor.  Anna's laughter spews out in shrieks each time Molly makes that comical jump through the air.

 

Jacob groans a happy groan and rocks approvingly in his special chair - the one that prevents his head from lolling to the side and his spine from curling over like an old piece of aluminum eavestrough.  Unchecked drool runs down his chin and onto the bib that Mumma makes him wear because Anna is not responsible enough to keep him clean and dry. The truth is that Anna is too frightened of Jacob to go near him.  His glassy eyes and moist, gaping mouth give him an unfortunate resemblance to the ghouls in the storybooks she was now forbidden to read after an attack of nightmares. For fear of being bitten, she chooses not to go near him unless Mumma is around.  

 

A large silhouette steps up to the open doorway, casting a long black ghost into the dusty shaft of sunlight.  Molly is the only one who sees it. Anna is still laughing and jabbing the broom at him. Jacob is still encouraging Anna with a stream of gurgles.  Mumma makes an impatient assessment of her children before pushing her wheelbarrow filled with loose earth towards the garden.

 

The blood in Molly's veins is suddenly flushed with warning signals.  To Anna's disappointment, he scales the nearest haystack and hides from sight.  Anna cries out a whiny "Awwwww." Molly soon reappears at the top of the haystack but proceeds only to settle down for a timeout.  

 

"Molly!  Come down!"  Anna pleads, "Don't you wanna play still?"

 

Molly looks down on Anna with narrow eyes.  

 

Undeterred, Anna lifts the broom high above her head and jabs at Molly’s perch.  The broom bounces off the side of the haystack but Molly remains firmly rooted in his spot.

 

"Molly!"

 

Unable to achieve her desired results from the ground, Anna decides to take the game up to Molly.

 

Jacob follows Anna's climb up the haystack with his lidless eyes.  His jaw drops as if to counterbalance the movements of his eye muscles.  Particles of hay and dust cling to his glistening lips. The conception of a cough - more like an involuntary gasp - sounds in his throat.

 

The air up in the haystack is heavy with dryness and decay.  Anna crawls to within eye-level of Molly who watches her ascent with the glare of a rattlesnake.  Anna pulls the broom up and holds it out.

 

"See what I brought, Molly?"

 

Molly rises to his feet as Anna pokes the broom at him.  He hisses but makes no attempt to lunge at it. Anna recognizes the hiss.

 

"Hey!  That's not nice."

 

Anna thrusts the broom at Molly again, using the broom as a tool of punishment.  Molly backs up to the edge of the haystack and cries out. Anna does not like what this game has turned into.  A black, bristly object, long and round like a rolling pin, lies on the spot that Molly has vacated.

 

Anna puts the broom down and reaches out her hand.  

 

"Molly?  It's okay.  I'm not going to hurt you."

 

Molly leaps to the side and disappears higher up into the barn.  Drawn nearer, Anna looks down at the feathery object in the hay.

 

Her loud scream sets off Jacob's alarm.  He begins to wail his tearless but telltale wail which brings Mumma back very quickly.

 

The silhouette, just as large and threatening without the wheelbarrow, reappears.  Mumma strides into the barn out of the harsh, midday sunlight. She is a tall woman with a wide middle.  Her reddened face is dabbed with sweat and dirt.

 

"What's Anna up to now?" she asks Jacob as if she expects a reply.  He coughs twice, both times drawing in air as if he were choking. Mumma takes off her spectacles and rubs a dark sleeve across her eyebrows.

 

The rustling of hay draws Mumma's attention.  She looks up and sees Anna climbing down a dangerously tall haystack.  Mumma's eyes ignite as she grapples with the arms of her glasses. It takes her three clumsy attempts before they finally stab through her thick wiry black hair bound tight with a scarf and settle over her sweaty ears.

 

"What in heaven’s name were you doing up there, child?"

 

Anna's response is mixed with fright and guilt.

 

"Dead chickens, Mumma!"

 

Mumma plucks Anna from the haystack like a saddle and props her upright on the floor.  Anna reaches out for Mumma's legs.

 

"Where dead chickens?"  Mumma blurts out, too upset to complete the full sentence.

 

"Up there."

 

"That bloody thievin' cat!"

 

Mumma pries Anna's arms off of her thighs.  

 

"Listen, child.  That cat of yours can't live here anymore if she's going to keep...”

 

“He!” Anna calls out.  She mistakenly named her pet barn cat Molly believing that it, along with all cats, was naturally a girl just as she also believed that all dogs were, by their aggressive behaviour and deep, loud barking, boys.  Puppa disavowed her of that notion but not before the moniker took hold.

 

“...if he’s going to keep killing our chickens!"  Mumma corrects her mistake without apology or acknowedgment towards Anna’s sharp ear.  They have struggled over the feline’s gender too many times in the past.

 

Jacob coughs again.  The same choking sound.

 

"He's a bad cat!  Mumma continues. “When you see him again, bring him to me.  But I don't want you climbing up there again"

 

Mumma totters out of the barn, breathing heavily.  There is a brief moment of silence in the barn before the music of birdsong and sagging rafters begin to register again.  The mooing of the cows out in the yard drift in with their odour.

 

Anna sits down and begins to cry.  Jacob's breath comes in wheezes that only grow louder.

 

Anna cries until the only reason she cries is to hear herself cry.  

 

Molly meows from above.

 

"Molly?"

 

Anna makes twitching noises through puckered lips.  

 

Molly meows again and hops down to Anna's feet.  

 

"Did you kill our chickens?  Bad kitty!"

 

Molly moves past Anna and rubs up against Jacob.  

 

"Watch out, Molly.  He'll get you."

 

Jacob sneezes.  When Jacob sneezes, his body convulses so violently that it looks as if he might jump right out of his special chair.  Molly dashes away, right into Anna’s reaching arms. She hoists him up with both her arms wrapped around his plump middle then flips him over and up against her right shoulder as she carries him out of the barn.  Molly, at almost half of Anna's size, allows her to manhandle him into a comforting rest position so that he resembles a limp boa scarf draped down the child’s right side.

 

Anna, her back arched way back to counterbalance Molly’s bulk, rambles over to the garden where Mumma is weeding.  

 

"Mumma?  I got Molly."

 

When Mumma turns around and says "Oh, good.", Molly tenses up.

 

"Bring her closer and don't let go."

 

“Him!”  Anna immediately corrects Mumma.  This time, Mumma does not correct herself.

 

Molly tries to leap away but Anna squeezes tight.  

 

"Ow!  Put your nails back in bad kitty!."

 

Mumma snaps her hand out and grabs Molly by the back of the neck.  Molly screeches like a frightened child. Mumma yanks back.

 

"Let go of her, child, before she scratches!"

 

Anticipating a deadly gouge from Molly’s extended claws and bared teeth, Anna goes limp.  Molly is quickly freed of Anna's arms and suspended in midair. His neck fur is drawn up over his head like a coat hood.  Molly kicks his legs in protest but gives up quickly, settling on a passive cry instead. Mumma holds him out like smelly underwear and walks to a potato sack that is lying at the edge of the garden.  

 

"Anna, come here and hold this sack open for me."

 

Anna grabs the edges of the sack and lifts.  There is something in the sack already. Something heavy.  Two hard objects grind against one another as they shift about.

 

Molly puts up a fight when Mumma attempts to deposit him inside the sack.  His spine curls up and he manages to get a claw into Mumma's fingers.

 

"Stand back, child."

 

Mumma pushes Molly deep into the sack with both hands like she was stuffing dirty cloths into the washing machine.  There is an unseen struggle. Molly screams. When Mumma withdraws her arm, her linen sleeves are pull of tears and pulls.  She ties the sack shut and hoists it up like a bag of garbage. The sack bulges and bucks. Molly's indignant voice can be heard from within.

 

"Is Molly okay?"

 

"She's just mad at me.  But we won't have to worry about her anymore.  She's going to live somewhere where she can't kill our chickens.”

 

“Him, Mumma”  

 

“Oh for goodness sakes, child!”

 

"Quiet, Molly.  Be good." Anna coos.

 

"He's a bad cat and this is his punishment.”

 

"Bad kitty!  You’re getting a time out!"

 

Mumma walks the sack over to the cows' water trough.  The sack undulates like it was full of live fish. It makes a comical “ploop!” as it drops into the water and a muffled “thunk” as it hits the tin bottom.  Mumma quickly covers the trough with a board. Anna can hear sounds of thrashing, splashing and an unmistakable, nightmarish liquid scream.

 

“Mumma?  What’s happening to Molly?”

 

“She...he is getting his punishment so he knows not to kill anymore of Puppa’s chickens.”

 

Mumma takes the shovel from the wheelbarrow and grabs Anna's hand.  

 

“Won’t Puppa be happy again when that happens?”

 

“I guess so Mumma.”

 

"Okay.  Let's go pick some berries now."

 

* * *

 

Anna carries an empty basket and walks behind Mumma, far back enough to avoid the swinging shovel.  She looks up at Jacob, riding in his own special sack on Mumma's back. His head is bowed forward and bouncing from side to side.  Stringy saliva drips from his open mouth like thick glue from a spout.

 

"Mumma, I want a ride now."

 

"Not now, child.  Wait ‘till we get back."

 

"Jacob's been up there long enough.

 

Mumma stops and spins.  Spit flies from Jacob's mouth.

 

"Don't talk back to me, child!  Jacob can't walk like you."

 

Anna sulks.  Mumma continues walking.

 

"When we're all finished with this, then you can have a ride.  But we still have some work to do. Pappa will be really happy if you pick his favourite berries."

 

* * *

 

Mumma sets Jacob down, still in his special sack, against a fallen log.  His head falls back, presenting his face to the sun. He tries to cough but it comes out as a gag.  Mumma points out a raspberry bush for Anna to pick from. Then she sets about digging a hole in the ground.  

 

Anna picks a few berries, then stares off in the direction from which they arrived.

 

"Listen, Mumma.  Molly's wants us to come back."

 

Mumma stops digging. There is nothing to hear but the flies and the bees in the fruit patch.

 

"Why don't you give some berries to Jacob?"

 

"No."

 

"Why not?  He'd love some berries.  Wouldn't you Jacob?"

 

Jacob's head is still thrown back against the fallen log.  A sound gurgles up from his throat, sounding somewhat like a moan, somewhat like a snore.

 

"I'm scared."

 

"Share your berries with your brother right now or I'll give you something to be sacred about."

 

Anna steps up to Jacob and holds a berry up to his mouth.  Jacob tries to raise his head but it is like he has a lead weight wrapped around his forehead.  His jaw lowers and his mouth forms an "O".

 

"He can't take it from you, child.  What's the matter with you?"

Mumma takes the raspberry from Anna's hand.

 

"This is how you do it."

 

Mumma holds Jacob's head up with one hand and pushes the berry into his mouth with the other.  Jacob closes his mouth and seems to suck on the berry. His eyes are wide with excitement.

 

"Okay.  You do it now."

 

"No."

 

"Anna!  Do you want a ride on my back or not?"

 

Anna holds a berry near Jacob's puckered lips.  He makes no motion toward it. She puts it closer.  His head nods as if trying to suck the berry from her fingers.

 

"You have to push it in."

 

Anna touches the raspberry to Jacob's lips.  Suddenly, Jacob’s mouth opens and snaps up the berry along with Anna's fingers.  He bites down hard. Anna screams out. Jacob can't let go. Mumma pries Anna's fingers out of his mouth.

 

"What were you doing putting your fingers in his mouth?  No wonder he bit you!"

 

Jacob vomits.  

 

Anna reaches deep down for the most pitiful cry she can muster.

 

"Mary, Mother of...!"

 

Jacob's breath comes easier to him.  Mumma uses his bib to clean up.

 

"Anna!  Finish picking your berries.  And I don't want to hear another sound out of you."

 

* * *

 

On the way home, Anna walks behind Mumma again.  Mumma has left the shovel behind standing upright in the pile of earth beside the deep hole.  Anna carries the full basket of raspberries with both hands. She looks up at Jacob in his special sack on Mumma's back.  Her eyes are caked with dried tears.

 

"Bad boy, Jacob!"

 

* * *

 

Mumma sets Jacob, still in his special sack, against a metal tub of cattle feed.  She pushes the board off the watering trough and reaches in. She pulls up the sack, lumpy and streaming and unmoving.

 

"Is Molly still in there, Mumma?"

 

"Yes, but he's sleeping."

 

"Can I pet him?"

 

"You'll wake him.  We don't want him to make any more fuss, do we?"

 

When the fall of water has slowed to a dribble, Mumma moves the sack past Anna.  The sack is still and quiet, like the early evening air. The only discernable shapes pressing against the wet canvas are the two fist-sized stones weighing the sack down.

 

"It's time for Molly to go away now.  If you say goodbye nice and quiet, I'm sure he'll hear you in his dreams."  

 

"bye, molly.  i love you. Bye."

 

"Okay.  You watch Jacob.  I'll be right back."  

 

"bye, molly.  I’ll come visit you."

Anna watches Mumma go, unconvinced of Molly presence inside the heavy sack.  The trough water that still leaks from the sack darkens the dry dirt path like blood.

 

Anna props herself up on the edge of the trough and looks down into the water.  She sees the reflection of a sad and tired little girl.

 

"Molly?"

 

Jacob moans again.

 

* * *

 

Jacob's head strikes the ground.  His cry is so sudden and so shrill that it surprises even Anna.

"Quiet, Jacob.  I'll give you something to cry about."

 

Jacob’s cry dies just as suddenly.  Anna bunches the throat of Jacob's special sack in her tiny hands and drags him towards the water trough.  His head rolls to the side and bangs off the ground again. Jacob lets out a second wail. Anna ignores it.

 

Mumma calls out from beyond the reach of the fading daylight, "Anna?  What's wrong with Jacob? Anna? Anna?"

 

Anna wraps her arms around his body and struggles to lift him up.  He falls with his back against the edge of the water trough. His head snaps back, cutting off his cry of protest.  The back of his head grazes the surface of the water. Anna grabs his legs and heaves.

 

"You can't live on our farm if you're going to bite people."


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