Ain’t seen hide or hair nor a whiff of a sniff of Liam all afternoon. Blindsided by the horses loosin’ themselves from the pasture, he skedaddled right now, leaving these folded up sheets of Big Chiefs tucked under his plate when he jumped to it from the noonday meal. Mama didn’t bat an eye when I slid them into my dungaree pocket whist I helped her clear. She knows all about my tendency to “collect” odds and ends. She also knows about the certainty I return them all once I’ve investigated and perused them.
So she didn’t give me no nevermind.
Now, all us kids know Miss Meadow, our young and glamorous and just a little too shiny teacher from the Raymore School, a white-washed, one-room, crowded little building snuggled in an elbow of Mill Creek. We all know she has high hopes for him, like bein’ a judge or a business man or a general, challenging him to write down his thoughts every single day. We all know she’s partial to Liam, smart as whip, he is, clever, too, and quiet-like, and everybody’s friend. We’re all, all us kids, partial to Liam. Not a lick o’nonsense or cruelty or avarice or low-minded skunkiness in him whatsoever. He speaks clear and true and is honest as the day is long. Me and him and our cousin Marie-France Mickelwait, we always call ourselves the Three Musketeers and share and share alike, thusly.
All us kids, we go to the Raymore School. Even Daddy, he went there. I think Grandpap helped build it away back in the olden days. Mama, she grew up on the other side of town. They had their own school, but it burnt down some time back.
So all us Goodwells, we’re well acquainted with Raymore School, visitin’ on a daily basis. Well, excepting Livvie and Lincoln and Lawrence. They take the truck half an hour to Os-burn to the high school there. They come home of an afternoon all decorated in orange and black and hollerin’ “Tigers!” most days.
I surely cannot wait until my turn comes. I’ve been labeled, and rightly so, I suppose, as the mean-spirited desperado of the Goodwell family. Smiles don’t come easily for me, nor do kind words. Nor do friends or birthday parties or all-round happy days. My jumping off place, my changing of the tide, comes in a year or so, when I aim to pile in the ol’ truck with the big kids, singin’ and smilin’ and wearin’ pretty dresses and plantin’ Victory gardens with the spirit squad and shoutin’ “Go Tigers” to one and all.
My name’s Luce. Luce Goodwell. Lucille Madeline Mickelwait Goodwell. I’m older by one year of dear brother Liam, on whose tablet paper I am documenting this. I will swear him to secrecy, and vow to break his pitchin’ arm if he spills one word.
I have faith in Liam, and trust him to the ends of eternity. But secrets, we all got ’em. (We, us three, we got a big German one hid out the other side of the bridge and then some.) And these secrets, well, I’m trusting Liam, and you, with mine.
Best I haul on out and help with them horses. Daylight’s a’wastin’.