The love spell with the woman suddenly broken, Johnson shot Merry a petrified look she couldn’t decipher.
“Merry, whut you sorry ’bout?”
“‘Cuz I was gone…”
“Merry mus’ still be sick, Momma! She was worried you would be mad, ‘cuz I had tuh pick fo’ her, ‘cuz she was gone so long in duh outhouse.”
Johnson stood up, eye balling his sister, telling her not to say another word. Merry glanced at the pretty woman. She nodded. Merry bit her tongue.
“Why would I be mad at you ’bout dat, girl? If you was sick, you shoulda come and tol’ me.”
“Well, maybe she was scared to. Could be her time. I started ’bout her age.”
The pretty woman’s voice sounded strange to Merry, yet familiar. She looked at her, hoping she would speak again.
“Lawd, dat’s all I need. Jesus, gurl, you bleedin’?”
Dora spun Merry around to examine her backside.
“I said, did yo’ monthly come? You bleedin’?”
Merry peered at her fingers. The fresh cuts from this morning’s cotton picking were already healing.
“No, momma. Not no more.”
Dora paused, then laughed. Relieved. Merry loved to hear her Momma’s laugh. These days, she didn’t get to hear it often enough.
Dora shook her finger, fussing at the woman.
“Don’t you be comin’ down here startin’ no mess. Merry gettin’ her monthly. Lawd, have mercy! You almost gave me a heart ‘tack.”
Dora, still chuckling, sat down with a thud and took a sip of her lemonade. Merry didn’t move. Johnson and the pretty woman also stayed where they were.
No one said it, but they were all waiting for Dora to tell them what they could do next.
“Whut wrong wit’ yaw? It ain’t been dat long, for yaw tuh be actin’ like yaw don’t know each other. Merry, Johnson, stop actin’ silly and come ovah here and give yo’ momma a propuh greetin’.”
Merry and Johnson looked at each other, confused.
“I said, come say hello to yo’ momma. You hear me? Or do you want tuh go outside and git a switch. Merry…”
“Momma, don’t. It has been a long time. Too long.”
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