James walks down the road from his house at night, watching the fireflies put his life in perspective flash by glowing flash. The average person has one journey every few years that reveals to them a truth and a secret, but James has this introspective journey every few days or so. On a wooden post at the end of the road is a sign that has a small, rugged metal sign and written on it "Mabeline". Mabeline is mostly straight, but has a couple bends and twists. He turns around and begins his walk back home upon reaching the end, shuffling dirt under his boots. Near the middle of the way is a wide and deep pond. The water doesn't elude the eye in distance, but parts of it hides behind a bend which is a host to a clutter of trees.
Just beyond the pond, behind more pines is a small home. the roof is barely held together by haphazardly squared shingles and a few squeeking rafters that moan venerable secrets of the times they have seen, as if they were whispering stories to each other. On the front of the small home is a fairly worn porch and a shabby porch swing, partially hidden by the wooden beams that line about three feet parrallel above the porch. Two rigid posts hold a drooping roof above the porch which holds the worn swing. When the breeze picks up, one could hear the jingling of the chains from across the echo of the pond.
James knows the house is there, and can barely see parts of the through the pines on the opposite side of the pond as he passes by. He wonders how anyone can live there, ad be completely self sufficient. At his home, they barely get by with their income, but who ever lives in that house never has a vehicle parked out front, and is never seen in town. At least, no one knows if they see who ever lives there. No one would be able to recognize who it is, because the only people who actually know are very old.
The remainder of the road ahead seems even longer tonight for some reason. The sky is especially cloudy tonight, and the moon is very bright. The wind through the tops of the trees sounds like they are humming old songs once sung by voices long ago. Twigs and leaves fall from the trees and make noises in the crunching leaves, making James weary of the night. He shrugs it off and continues walking with his hands in his pockets. The twigs and leaves begin making a more steady sound in the distance behind him, and he slows down to listen. If the pace matches his, someone is falling him, but if James notices that it was his imagination, he can walk at ease. But to his dismay, the steady crunching and shuffling of dirt continues. He stops and turns around. Nothing. For some reason, he thought someone would be standing about twenty paces behind him with red glowing eyes, ready to eat him or kill him. James turns forward and proceed to walk, breathing gently to recover from the racing heartbeat, and small drops of sweat on his forehead he quickly wipes away.
In the near distance, James spots his house, and the dim yellow light pouring from the kitchen window. 'Sis must be fixin' up some u'that toast she's come so fond of' he thinks to himself. Within a matter of minutes, Miranda and James are together in the warm kitchen.
Miranda asks James, "How was the walk?" She is standing behind a chair across the table.
James replies with an inquisative expression,"You reckon a single person, or a family stays in that house down by the pond?" he turns from her and looks outside through the window, watching the trees dance.
"No, I aint got the foggiest." She twists and flips the bread cooking on the stove.
James looks back to Miranda and sees her dirty feet beneath her floral flour sack dress. This dress, unlike the one her mother made, was crafted by one of the ladies at church. He can't help but wonder what Miranda and Chealse were talking about when they were convincing Steph to go to the party they were trying to plan. And, for what? It wasn't anyone's birthday, or anniversary. No special holidays were near, except maybe Halloween, but that would be for another month.
"Sis, what were you'n Chealse trying to get Steph to go to?" he finally works up the nerv to ask.
Miranda stops, "What are you talking about James?" she pretends to not know.
"Well, You three are plannin' some get-to-gether, and didn't mention it to me." He complains, pulling out a chair and sitting down.
"I want to plan somethin' for a few of us to just relax and have fun. I'm sure Pa won't mind gettin' us beer if we raise the money." She comes clean, assuming James wouldn't be adverse to the plan.
"No way in Hell I'm going to be apart of that!" James raises his voice and drops his arms on the table.
"What the hell is wrong with you, dumbass?" She lowers her voice and reasons with him, "I'll cut out the beer, I thought it couldn't harm none is all."
James thinks back to when he got the scar on his back, and never once thought to remind his sister why alcohol is such an aweful thing. The alcohol is almost completely purged from their family, except from the beer his Pa drinks when his company is over. Before their Grandmother Gene died, no one really drank any. Their Grandfather had just as few drinks as Daniel does. After her death, Daniel's father went over the deep end- drinking and smoking even more.
"Miranda, you recall what has come of Papaw?" James rubs a scuff off of the empty plate in front of him.
"Yeah, I know." Miranda walks to the table and grabs James' empty plate and flops two pieces of bread on it, and throws some white sugar on top. "Did Pa ever tell you what Papaw plans on doi with the property down yonder?" She asks.
"No, what's goin on Sis?" James reaches out for the plate, and she hands it to him before preparing her own.
"He's going to sell it." She looks to him with a 'go-figure' look and sits down across from him. "Aint that some shit?"
"Yeah. Is that where ya'll wanted to have that party at" He takes a bite and soaks in the processes the news.
"No, but we can just go to the pond." Miranda suggests, as she too takes a big bite.
James and Miranda continue eating their toast, and talking about the party. Just outside, their grandfather sits in his truck. From the porch, the dark, small truck sits lifeless in the moonlight, waiting to start moving again. But, that was not to be until after the talk with Daniel that his Father has planned.
Daniel pulls up in his black Chevy and parks in front of he porch, much closer than his father, who had parked off the driveway and on the edge of where grass meets gravel. Daniel turns the engine off and steps out of the truck. Neither of them can see, but two heads are side-by-side in the window, watching.
Daniel calls out to the sleeping truck, and the man in the driver's seat, "Why you out-and-about so late old man?" he takes off his hat and shoves it in his back pocket.
His father opens the door and fumbles out wearing his working clothes- overalls, boots and a pair of leather gloves, "What'n hell you thinkin I'm here fer?" he stands up straight, as if he hadn't anything to be ashamed of.
"We already mixed words on the sellin of that land," Daniel reaches for his hat, and pulls it from his back pocket. "and I aint got nothin else to say. Please get on somewhere, Pa."
"Now you listen here, you old goat, " His father starts toward him, and Daniel steps back because he knows his Pa isn't very keen on words backed up by hands, "aint no one 'round here gonna 'get on somewhere Pa', but you!"
"Stop it you old son of a bi-" Daniel quickly steps aside as his father falls forward and faceplants in the gravel.
His father gets back up and flops a strap of his over-alls onto his shoulder, but it didn't stay long. Daniel saw his father lean forward, and braced himself for another. His drunken father took a step forward, and charged at him. Daniel and his father hit the ground a few steps from the truck parked crooked off the drive-way. Miranda and James run out of the kitchen and through the screen door. The door hits the side of the house with a THWACK. Angela's eyes open and she rises to the noise, as she sits in her bed looking around. James froze in fron of his father and grandfather, just like last time. But this was different. He caught up with Miranda and refused to be beaten by some drunkard old man again.
Daniel stands up and wipes a little blood from his eyebrow, and spits the gravel from his mouth. He watches his two kids wrestling his father to the ground, until he submits. Their grandfather lays there, unconcious.
"What the hell happened?!" Miranda cries and pants beside the defeated old man.
"Same as always." Their Pa walks up the steps of the porch, and back inside only to meet Angela standing at the bottom of the stares, mouth cringing, and eyes piercing into his.
After getting up and leaving him to the bugs on the ground, Miranda saw something through the corner of her eye. She looked back to the truck parked off to the side and noticed a grey womanly figure sitting in the passenger seat of the truck, holding her transparent face in transparent palms.
Miranda's eyes widen, "James..."