The Saddest Day of my Life…Day 18
I just skint my knee and am holding it so the blood don’t pour out until daddy comes back with the Band-Aid.
“Ok, this will sting at first,” he says to me. I shut my eyes so tight when I open them, daddy looks fuzzy.
“Ouchie, ouch, ouch!” I say as daddy dabs my knee with alcohol. He catches all the blood on his rag and then puts a Band-Aid on it. All of a sudden, it feels better. He picks up my princess skateboard and puts it in his lap and sits next to me. The wooden boards on our porch start to creak and squeak. I feel like I’m gonna fall through the porch with all of daddy’s weight.
“Next time, keep away from Mrs. Hainey’s driveway. It’s way too steep for you, ya hear me?”
“Yes, sir,” I say.
Then I see Mr. Harper and a police car pull up to Mrs. Pauley’s house.
“Hey daddy, what’s goin’ on over there? Is Mrs. Pauley okay?”
“Mrs. Pauley’s fine, honey. Although today she might be forced to leave her house for good.”
“Why, daddy?” I ask, “ain’t that her house?”
“It is, but it ain’t,”daddy tries to explain.
“See, she don’t own the house, Mr. Harper does. He just been lettin’ her and her family stay there all these years. Now that her husband gone, she can’t pay no more, understand?”
“It’s not fair! Daddy, you ain’t going help her or nuthin’?”
“I tried. We all tried. Times is tough, is all. She’ll be fine. She’s gonna stay with her sister down in Zebulon,” daddy says and he pats me on the head like I am a cocker spaniel and gets up. The boards on the porch seem relieved and so am I to not fall down.
“I’m gonna get lunch ready and you come on inside,” he says and the screen door slams behind him.
I don’t get up. This is the first time I am hearin’ about Mrs. Pauley leavin’ the neighborhood. Daddy ain’t never said nuthin’ to me about Mrs. Pauley goin’ to stay with her sister. I am mad. Why didn’t Mrs. Pauley say nuthin’ to me? She did look a little funny when I came by her house the other day to see if she wanted me to wash her ol’ beat up green car. Daddy told me to go over and ask, so I did. She was too old to wash her car anymore I guess. She just say, “no thanks baby,” and gave me a popsicle for asking.
She was always nice to me. She helped daddy after mama died when I was younger. She would bring over food and say nice things about mama to daddy. He liked that a lot. He said she was a blessin’ to us. She was really happy back then. Her kids were older than me so I never got a chance to play with them. When Mr. Pauley died, we were always over there bringin’ her things. I guess it had been our turn to be a blessin’ to her.
I grab a couple of rocks from my yard and put them in my pocket. I stand in my yard at the fence and watch Mr. Harper and the police knock on the door. Nobody answers. They knock and knock. Still no answer.
“She ain’t home!” I yell.
They both turn around to face me.
“Where’d she go?” asks the police officer, taking two steps off her porch and he walks towards me. He is so tall, it looks to me like he is walking on stilts like at the circus.
“Go away and leave Mrs. Pauley alone!” I shout. I am upset. I start to cry. My daddy hears and comes rushing out the house, hollering.
“Shaunie, I done told you to get yo’ tail in this house!”
“Officer,” daddy says, meeting the police at his fence, “my daughter is upset Mrs. Pauley is leaving. The whole neighborhood is too.”
“Charlie, I’ve tried to work with her but—“ Mr. Harper says and pauses because I am giving him a dirty look. I feel inside my pocket to make sure my rocks are still there. I want to throw one at his ugly face. He looks like a big fat pig in overalls.
“Well, you know what happened. I simply just can’t hold out any longer. I am so very sorry for you and your daughter,” he says in a low voice, but I can still hear him.
My daddy shoots me a look that says, ‘get in the house or else!’ So I go. But I am not turning my back on Mr. “piggy” Harper and that mean ol’ policeman. I just walk backwards into the house and slam the door. I hope they all hear that!
I stomp up the stairs to my room and go to my window. Daddy and Mr. Harper and the tall policemen are still talking at the fence. I wonder what they are saying? I am hoping daddy is trying to convince them to let Mrs. Pauley stay.
After a while, daddy turns and walks back towards the house. He looks up and sees me staring out the window. My eyes are full of tears. He shakes his head and disappears under the porch. I hear the screen door open and shut and the sound of his footsteps like thunder in the kitchen.
“You coming down for lunch?” He yells.
I am not hungry. I am never going to be hungry no more!
I watch as the officer and Mr. Harper walk back over to Mrs. Pauley’s house and after one final knock, Mr. Harper uses his key to let himself in her house.
I sit there at window all day, watching all of Mrs. Pauley’s things being put out on the lawn and cry until I can’t cry no more.
It was the saddest day of my life.