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Ginger snapped her neck as she looked down the road. A truck, white and red spotted, came jumbling toward her with a tinkle and a clatter. She jumped up from sitting. And her boots ground against the dirt clods.

In the driver’s seat, Jimmy shifted the weight of his bottom in the worn down cushion. It took the support of the steering wheel for him to really get a good position. The seat of his trousers was damp with perspiration. He grunted.

When the truck began to roll forward again,  Ginger finally turned to look at her brother.

“Sorry,” Ginger said. Her face was upturned, looking over the windshield streaks to the horizon of the truck’s hood ahead.

“It’s a’right, only dad and mom were up late worrying,” John replied without looking at her.

“Hmm,” she admits.

The squeak in the back tire began to whine loader just as they turned the corner of the driveway. With dust rolling in all the time, the windows were closed. But now the last car that was going to come down the drive way had come down the drive way and they could open the windows to the breeze in a few minutes once the dust settled.

Ginger hopped out and waited by the hood. Jimmy climbed from his seat. He could feel the sweat begin to cool between his shirt and his back. It felt nice. From the window by the front door they spied the red face of mom waiting anxiously. She always had a red face. But today you could see her skin blooming even behind the shaded window.

Mom would not open the door for them. They would have to come in and offer apology to her in her arm chair. The chair was worn at the arm tips. Mom had a tendency to pluck and pinch her fingers when not occupied with other tasks. And the chair obediently stayed put, unlike the cat.

“She’s back home now, Mom,” Jimmy announced. He left his hat on to hug her hello. Then went to hang the hat on the rack by the door.

Ginger went to Mom more slowly. Mom peered with silent hurt and mistrust.

“I’m sorry Mom,” Ginger said. This time she looked at her feet. “I did get a job, though,” she added. Mom did not seem overly impressed.

“As what?” Mom asked.

“Well, it isn’t much but they hired me at the diner,” Ginger replied.

“I suppose that’s a start,” Mom admitted. “Now come on over and give your mother a hug hello.” Well accustomed to the ceremony, Ginger’s knees bent as she crouched to the right height to hug her mother around the neck.

“I’m going to make you kids some pie for desert then.” Mom hoisted herself off the chair and shuffled to the kitchen, her arms at her hips. As the dust in the yard settled, Jimmy and Ginger began to open up the house’s windows. Mom joined the noise of the window’s screeching frames with her clanging in the kitchen.

Noses began poking out from behind doors. Polly and Joanne emerged from their bedroom. It had been a long time since Mom had made a pie. Even Thanksgiving last year they had a store bought one, on sale for $4.99. But this was to be an apple pie, not pumpkin, and in no need of whipped cream. Mom’s pie was always rich as sin.

The pie was in the oven when Dad came walking in from the back room, lead by his nose like the others. Dinner was a simple. Everyone cared more about the apple pie still steaming on the counter. And their eyes went to it, one after another as if expecting it to disappear.

Many of the plates still had food on them. But the forks had stopped scrapping. And their hands folded in their laps. Mom looked around at their reverent faces. And she decided they were sufficiently ready for pie. She raised herself onto steady feet and grasped the pie tin with a firm grip. Dad would cut the slices.

They sat hunched over their pie without speaking. Mom watched them. And none commented. It seemed not as sweet as they remembered before they knew the cost of sugar.

Inspired by the song “Oh Sweet Nothin'” by Hollis Brown. See the piece written by Dylan Hughes here.

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