A fragment, an attempt, I found on my computer. I know it needs work and I have no idea where it was going. Sigh.

Whisper crashed through the door, scattering the earthenware pots that towered - and toppled - from her arms. Only one broke and that one was cracked anyway. So, it was no surprise that Aunt Alethea stayed calm. “Thatʼs a lazy manʼs burden, Whisper,” she said. Her hand paused for a nanosecond and then she continued writing. “Iʼm not lazy!” Whisper almost shouted in protest. “And Iʼm not a man.” Anthem was stitching by the open window. The day was warm for April and the scent of the garden washed over Whisper. “Auntie means you were trying to carry too much,” Anthem explained in her gentle thin voice. Whisper kicked the basement door shut behind her. “Why arenʼt these in the garden shed?” she growled at her Aunt. “Have you looked in the garden shed, lately?” Aunt Aletheaʼs hand continued across the paper. Whisper scowled. She placed the pots that were still clutched to her chest on the floor. “I guess you want me to clean out the shed.” “Not til Anthem can help you.” Aunt Alethea did not look up. “You donʼt TRUST me!” Whisper howled. She stomped around the kitchen gathering up the scattered pots which she piled by the door. Then, she grabbed the broom. She had to chase the shards of the broken pot around the kitchen, she swept so hard. Auntie and Anthem bent to their work but Whisper was sure she heard her sister utter a soft sigh. She clenched the broom handle so hard her fingers hurt but she slowed down and finally cleaned up the broken pot. She took one pile of pots out to the back yard, letting the screen door slam behind her. Her job today was to wash the pots. Auntie would fill them with the lilies that grew along the stream. Then Whisper and Sky took them to market and sold them. There were four times as many pots in the basement. This job would take forever.

Oh, she wanted to holler. This was not Whisperʼs kind of work. Give her a hammer to bang, give her a chance to make noise! Thatʼs what Whisper wanted to do. It made every job she did more messy, louder and more frenetic. Several more trips up and down the steps, stomping, slamming and grumbling the whole time. Auntie and Anthem moved after Whisperʼs third trip - Auntie to the desk in the front hallway. Anthem had moved on to gathering eggs. Pots filled the old cast iron tub by the side of the house. Whisper filled it with water from the pump and she tossed in handfuls of powdered soap. Then, rolling up her sleeves, she set to work, banging and clattering, she scrubbed each pot then set it aside on the old tablecloth she set out there for this purpose. Then, because she always missed something, Whisper scrubbed the pots again. She let the tub drain into the barrel beside it. The water would go to the fruit trees out back. She filled the tub again with rinse water and repeated the process. When she was done, those pots were truly and completely clean and her antsy-ness had worked itself out. Nothing like splashing and sloshing and banging to calm the soul. Sky came into the yard, home from his morning at school. He was singing one of the silly songs they taught the younger kids, something about washing his hands and germs going down the drain. Harmless, really. He gave the pots a wide berth and Whisper smiled. “Stay away, Mud Boy!” she said with a laugh. Sky laughed, too. For someone named for the upper reaches of the world, Sky spent most of his time in the dirt and the mud. His teachers probably drilled that song into his brain, in the vain hope that he would clean up his act. Whisper snorted at the thought. Sky was dirty but he wasnʼt unclean, if that made any sense at all. Whisper looked down at her own hands, wrinkled from a couple of hours of scrubbing. They couldnʼt get any cleaner. Sky came back outside and rushed over to the hose, a little too close to the clean pots for Whisperʼs comfort. “Let me,” she shouted and she grabbed the hose from Skyʼs hands then took his elbow and led him back up the walk to the kitchen door. He had the soap in his hands and Whisper aimed the hose and Sky scrubbed. Whisper could be very precise when she needed to be. Skyʼs hands were clean, his shoes were dry and it was time to eat. Lunch was bread and cheese again. The bread was almost fresh and the cheese was tangy and salty, just the way Whisper liked it. She tried to take small bites and make it

last. Then, Auntie opened a jar of pears for a sweet - gritty, tough pears. Whisper finished them off anyway, since sweets were rare. Anthem moved softly and almost silently as she cleared the table. She would wash the dishes; Sky dried. Whisper had to sweep the floor around the table and wipe the table down. “We do this after every meal”, she grumbled. “Why donʼt we do it once, after supper and be done with it?” Auntie sighed. “And offer a dirty table to anyone who drops by on us, or scatter crumbs for the ants and mice to find? A clean table reflects a clean mind and a clean house.” “Yeah, yeah”, Whisper grumped. Her sweeping had calmed down since the morning. Anthem said something from the kitchen. “What?” Whisper called back. She heard Anthemʼs voice but it was thin as a thread. “You donʼt fit your name”, Whisper told her as she left her job to hear what Anthem said. “Look”, Anthem pointed out the window. “A nest and eggs.” There in the arbor outside the kitchen window, a robin added the finishing touches to a nest. “That will be fun to watch”, Whisperʼs voice quieted as she watched the bird. “If you donʼt scare the poor thing with your Whisper-y voice”, Anthem laughed. “It is a puzzle”, Anthem returned to her work. “Why do you think we were named this way?” “Iʼll ask Auntie later”, Whisper said. “One of these times she will have to answer our questions.” I will gladly accept suggestions for a next chapter. Thanks, KM

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful