The story so far… Old Wives’ Tale
After four days on Pappy’s bus, Amelia was grateful to see the blue haze of the Smoky Mountains as they drove south over the Blue Ridge Parkway. She wished that her daughters could see how beautiful they were. They would have loved the sweet smell of the spring air.
Each time Pappy stopped for a rest or for gas, he’d let Amelia check on her bag in the storage compartment under the bus. It wasn’t the same as having it inside on the seat with her, but she was grateful that the old man understood her worries.
Charles barely spoke to Amelia on the trip, saving sparse his words to taunt her about their daughters. Most of his time was spent sleeping or drinking. Amelia was able to lace his bottle with a pinch of her powders, keeping him in a constant state of disorientation.
During one of their stops, when Charles was sleeping in the back of the bus, Pappy called Amelia to the front to talk with him.
“We’re almost there, little darlin’,” he said.
“You’ve been so kind, Pappy,” she said. “I can never repay you.”
“Don’t you fret over that,” he said. “When we get to our last stop, you and Charles stay with me. I sent ahead and lined up jobs for both of you.”
Amelia clutched her hands together, fighting against the emotions that swept over her.
“Now, there. The people who’ve agreed to take you on are good folks,” Pappy said. “James and Olivia Carson. Charles will be part of a crew building them a new house, and Olivia said she’d love to have you help out with their kids. They’ve got a passel, five last count.”
At the mention of children, a small whimper escaped Amelia.
“Once the Carsons come fetch you, I’ll be moving on,” Pappy said. “I’m taking some of the camp further South.”
Amelia reached out to squeeze Pappy’s shoulder.
“What will become of me?” She asked, looking back towards her snoring husband.
“You can trust James and Olivia. You can tell them anything… any thing… and they’ll help you,” he said. “James will protect you like you’re one of his own.”
With her hand still resting on Pappy, Amelia nodded.
“I’ll keep your bag stowed until James arrives and pass it directly to him,” Pappy said. “He won’t let nothing happen to it.”
Amelia could only nod again.
“You better get back to your seat before Charles wakes up,” Pappy said. “Don’t worry none, you’ll be all right.”
Walking down the bus aisle, Amelia felt hopeful for the first time in months.