by Anne Elizabeth Weisgerber
Irwin Richardt had a mind to make a cup of tea. Early as it was, the honey bees’ fellowship meeting inside the bedroom wall was underway, and their humming was peaceful, contemplative. He closed his eyes and listened. Hot as the day was shaping up to be, he tugged up Big Tee’s quilt and nestled against its folds. O, mama’s fingers sweet-stitched those curlicue coxcombs, cherry trees, and pineapples in 1928 when Irwin came along.
Glorious as those sweet stitches were, there was nothing in Old Irwin’s clapboard homestead to eat today. Walnuts wouldn’t mature for another month. The berries were through.
Buckthorn tea was all.
Rallying, Old Irwin first decided he’d recite the Bill of Rights, and get on out to the well pump and add some water to that chipped enamel pan, then strike a flint. Did he have it in him, he wondered plain, to strike? He pushed back the coverlet, weary. Stood.
O, his vision faded from the bottom up, like water filling a pan. He blanked long enough to fall, and fell hard enough to break.
Big Tee’s hushed voice said hold, son. Give me a moment here and I’ll take your hand.
And by-the-by, she stitched him fresh cherries and knotted him fancy black-currant berries, and hot as the day was, Old Irwin plumed cool and bright as well water.
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Look for Anne Elizabeth Weisgerber’s stories in New South, Tahoma Literary Review, The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, Vignette Review, Revolution John, and Jellyfish Review. She is a freelance fiction editor, and her chapbook reviews appear in Change Seven Magazine; she reads fiction for Pithead Chapel. When not teaching, she’s working on a novel that spans five generations, or looking out the kitchen window at her fascinating goats, Snapdragon and Socrates. Follow her @AEWeisgerber, or visit anneweisgerber.com
*Photography by Brian Michael Barbeito*