Excerpt from Biana’s Pond…

14.St. Ignace Countryside

Above book cover artwork by ann johnson-murphree 2010

Excerpt from draft “Biana’s Pond”

Writers note:  The story, based on the lives of Jesse Youngblood who has returned home to go on an end of life journey with her colorful aunt.

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Excerpt from draft “Biana’s Pond”

Writers note:  The story, based on the lives of Jesse Youngblood who has returned home to go on an end of life journey with her colorful aunt.

~~~~~~

Jesse Youngblood walked into the lobby of the Ayers Hotel in Birmingham, Alabama; right away, her body went ridged, childhood fears return as she stopped in front of the old elevator doors now covered with a fresh coat of “Gold” paint.   The doors opened, she shut her eyes tight walking quickly through them.  She did not need to have them open to know that a tarnished brass rail was next to her hand.   Jesse still associated the old elevator with a tragic episode during her childhood.

A childhood that was both happy and sad had confused Jesse more times than not, her eyes so tight that her nose wrinkled.   She did not know that an elderly man had walked in behind her; he waited for a few moments then began clearing his troth.

“Young lady are you going to just stand there with your eyes closed or do you intend to select a floor?”  The voice dripped of southern politeness, yet laced with attitude.

“I’m sorry sir, the tenth floor please.”   Her voice apologetic Jesse could feel his irritability, but she kept her eyes closed.

Assuming she was not going to surrender her hold on the railing, he reached out selected his floor and pushed the button for the top floor as well.  The antiquated elevator cables creaked and groaned as Jesse counted each floor that they passed, it stopped on the ninth floor; the old man grumbled under his breath as he got off.   The intimidating climb continued.

Despite her fear of the elevator, Jesse was excited to be back, five years ago her aunt made the decision to change the building from a hotel to apartments; of course, her Aunt Biana still occupied the entire top floor as she had done since moving into the hotel with her husband.  She could not help but wonder how the home she grew up looked with the changes.

Jesse did not have to wait long, the doors opened and so did her eyes, she stepped quickly into the entrance hall where nothing had changed.  The tenth floor was like stepping back into time.   Mirrors in gilded frames, drawings of known and unknown artists lined the walls; colossal vases filled with multicolored plumes stood tall like sentries at the entrance door.  Time had left its mark on everything, the building, maybe the life beyond the door.  Jesse did not know what she was going to find on the other side, but she was home.

Opening the door, Jesse found that her aunt Biana’s home was unchanged; the enormous living room still as bodacious as Miss Adeline’s girls over McNutt’s Tavern on the outskirts of town was bursting with familiar flamboyant furniture.  Windows draped artistically in imported silks and lace was as awesome today, as they had been the first time she had visited her aunt.  The walls, tables, and bookcases held pictures of Jesse, creating a scrapbook of her life.  She had grown up inside these walls of dark mahogany panels and swirling alabaster.  It had been her playground.  Her years in this place had been one of discovery and learning, a time that shaped her future.  Suddenly, the clinical smells coming from the hallway leading into the bedrooms assaulted her senses, reminding her of why she was back.

Jesse would soon know as the familiar voice of her beloved aunt Francis bellowed through the hallway.  Dressed in black that was only slightly darker than her skin, with a starched white apron Francis spread her arms; pulling Jesse to her sagging bosom hugging and crying until Jesse thought she would burst; she was truly home, home with both her aunts.

Francis cried out, “Miss Jesse you as pale as a ghost, don’t they have no sun in California”?

The person known to Jesse as her aunt Francis came to work for her aunt Biana long before Jesse cam to live with her.  Francis had been the grandchild of slaves.   To Francis, her baby Jesse unfortunately did not inherit her fathers’ Chickasaw skin, instead she was like porcelain like her aunt Biana; she pulled back from Francis.

“How is she”?

“Oh Miss Jesse, I am so glad that you are home, I can’t do nothing with that women, course never could.  Says she is going to that cabin of hers down south and nobody is goin to stop her, you need to talk some sense into that woman.”

Jesse did not get a chance to say anything; the whirlwind of frustration was already backing into the kitchen, Francis who long ago became her aunt Biana’s housekeeper, then nanny, Jesse knew she had become a close friend and confident.  Now she was her caretaker!

©2014.annjohnsonmurphree

Ann’s poetry and art eBooks can be found at:

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_0_7?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=ann+johnson-murphree&sprefix=ann+joh%2Caps%2C189

 

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