COLLEGE BOUND COUNTRY GIRL

Posted: November 5, 2011 in Uncategorized

The early spring morning yawned, rubbing its eyes as the fresh air blew over the rain soaked hills. A Bluebird perched on the rusty swing in the Mulberry backyard bellowed to the squirrels running up and down the fence. The cranky paint of the elderly house cracked and peeled waiting for anyone to notice its conspicuously old age.

The mailman flipped through his bag and chucked the clump of letters into the Mulberry mailbox slightly adjusting his earplugs as he jumped back into his postal jeep. Saturday was the Mulberry’s natural day of rest. Pa and Martha Mulberry weren’t religious in any particular way. It was simply instinctive for them to pick a sovereign day of the week when they would kiss the world good-bye. Saturday morning was a time to pull out the stops and treat each other good, very good.

For Pa it was crisp, sizzling bacon and scrambled eggs with orange juice and white bread toast. For Martha it was endless black coffee with her favorite country AM station blaring in the background. Saturday morning was sacred for Pa and Martha Mulberry. They had been together 35 years and knew the sanctity of shallow talk and no-rush country chic.

The big city was 10 miles away. They lived in a quiet, forgotten hamlet near the railroad tracks and the county dump. It was unmolested and beautiful. The smells that most big city people associated with the region were largely gone since the Feds imposed big fines on the local smelters. The Mulberry’s lived peacefully in a forgotten part of heaven on earth.

Martha hurried to the mailbox in her usual fashion. She loved to collect coupons and relished junk mail. Technology somehow overlooked the Mulberry’s and the Mulberry’s didn’t care. Old fashion snail-mail was Martha’s morning entertainment, along with Pa, breakfast and country music. Neither one of them barely noticed the big city condescendingly lifting its nose into the air at them. In their eyes, the looming buildings were merely an etch-a-sketch backdrop to the fresh morning air.

Martha flipped through the mail, when one of the letters leaped into the air. It glowed from the rest, with the word “COLLEGE”, radiating like anArchangeldescending from heaven.

Martha could not contain herself. She rushed through the torn screen door, letting it slam in ceremonial tribute to the arrival of the epitomic message.

“Oh, Betty Sue is going to be so happy when she hears the news.”
Martha could hardly contain herself. The eagerly anticipated envelope had finally arrived. Needless to say, it created a tempest of joy in the Mulberry home.

“Now calm down Martha or you’ll start in on one of your fits. You know what the doctor said.” Pa stabbed at his eggs and bacon as he tried to contain his excitement. “Tell me it’s from the college.”

“You better believe it is. Says right here on the envelope in big gold letters. Oh Pa, you know how hard Betty Sue has worked for this.” Martha nervously poured herself more coffee into her gigantic mug. “She’d be the first one to get into college in the whole family. This is the start of a new era for all of usPa.”

The Mulberry family was a working family. For generations they honored the work that came from their hands, the sweat from their brows and the dirt underneath their fingernails. College was as foreign to them as a skunk learning Latin. Yet, they knew that times had changed and supported their only daughter in her tradition-breaking pursuit.

Pa nodded. He knew that it would take extra hours at the shop to pay for the tuition. He would make the sacrifice, knowing he was a pivot point in his family’s history. His right leg began to twitch. He reached for his pill, placed it delicately on the tip of his tongue and gulped down a full glass of orange juice as if it were a celebratory champagne cocktail.

“You know, I am proud of Betty Sue,” Pa proudly mustered. “Although, I would have bet my Chevrolet Colorado that she would have married Gil instead. I mean with Gil getting the job at the plant and all”.

“That just goes to show you Pa that Betty Sue has a head on her shoulders. She knows what’s best for her future and it isn’t a man.” Martha’s smile beamed like aLas Vegasneon light as she nervously looked up the stairs for Betty Sue to come down for breakfast. “It’s nearly10:00 o’clockand that girl’s still isn’t up. I have a mind to go up there and shake her till her bones rattle.”

“I’ve never seen her get up beforenoon, and now you think she’s going to get up in mid-morning?” Pa laughed at the thought of his daughter eating breakfast before lunchtime.

“I wish she’d quit going to that sleazy bar every night. College is going to be tough and her head has to right.”

Martha looked up the stairs again, nearly drilling a hole into the top stair with her sizzling brown-eyed glare.

“Are you going to be able to take care of the baby when she’s at school Martha,” asked Pa sheepishly.

“You bet,” snapped Martha. “I’ve asked Mrs. Willis if I could take on more house-cleaning if Betty Sue had to go to college but that I would have to bring my granddaughter. She said yes, but that her husband might not like it. That big city lawyer better not make it tough on me or, or I’ll … ”

“Oh, now Martha,” Pa interrupted. “He’s just worried our little pumpkin will run about and ruin some of his precious things. I guess you can’t really blame Mrs. Willis for making sure he’s okay with it. Yet, with all of this happening so fast, it’s going to be a challenge for all of us, that’s for sure Martha.” Pa tossed a crisp slice of bacon into his mouth to emphasize the point. “We can do this Martha. We just have to keep our heads on straight. Now read that letter aloud to me. I want to listen to how my Betty Sue is going to college.”

“OkayPa.” Martha fumbled her way to the letter, began opening the envelope, stretching it out as if it were an Egyptian scroll. “Hum, hum,” Martha cleared her throat.

“We are proud to inform you that Betty Sue Mulberry has been accepted to the Tucson College of Cosmetology beginning next September. To take advantage of our special high school dropout college program, you must send in the first and last months payments before June 15. CERTIFIED CHECK ONLY PLEASE.”

“Oh, Pa, I am so proud of Betty Sue.” A huge tear fell from Martha’s eyes as Pa gently reached for her hand.

“I am too Martha. I am too.”

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