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Life Arts    H4'ed 2/27/15

Meeting Lila

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Lila looked up at him and asked, "Where will we go?"

"We will have to move into the city, try to find work there."

Mother cried louder. "We are not city people. The city is brutal." She sank to her knees beside grandpa. "Why did you do this? You should have stayed with us. We would do better together."

"He was too ashamed," father said. "But you're right, he shouldn't have done it. I didn't think he would. But I didn't think the bank would actually take our farm either. I thought they'd give us a chance."

"What will they do with it?" brother asked.

"Whatever will bring them the most money," father said. He reached down and lifted Lila up onto her feet. "I'm sorry you had to find him...a terrible shock to you. Go out and play now."

"I can't play," she said. As father led her out, she looked at grandpa sprawled on the floor. He would never get up from there. That's what it meant to be dead. She wouldn't see him again...ever. Where did he go? Did he just fly away? Her tears streamed more and she threw herself on the couch with a wail. Father picked up the telephone and pushed numbers. He said something into the phone, but she was crying too loud to hear. Everything she saw reminded her of grandfather: his favorite chair in the corner, his place at the head of the dinner table, his smiling face in family photos on the wall, his coat hanging by the front door. She ran out the back door, but in the yard she saw the fig tree with her swing, and she remembered him making it for her then pushing her in it, both of them laughing. The rope on the tree reminded her of the rope from the ceiling, and she cried louder. She couldn't stand it. How could a person not be there anymore?

Something seemed to be closing around her, crushing her, squeezing everything together into a hard little ball. She didn't want to be that hard little ball. She dropped to the ground and beat with her hands and kicked with her legs. The feather fell out of her hair. Even the hard little ball was being crushed into dust that would blow away. She'd be gone like grandpa. Lila brought her knees up to her chest, clenched her arms around her legs, held herself tightly to keep from disappearing, and said her name over and over: "Lila...Lila...."

Chapters of Lila, the Revolutionary are posted on www.amazon.com/dp/1897455844.

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William T. Hathaway is the author of eight books and was a Fulbright professor of creative writing at universities in Germany, where he currently lives. His environmental novel, Wellsprings: A Fable of Consciousness, tells of an old woman and a (more...)
 

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