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By Donna Flood
Chapter 17 - Mariah Walks Away

At this point I will be going back into my manuscript to change names. You, my reader,  have acquainted your self with my family,  but now I must consider what has to be done for  publication.  Mariah and Warren have descendants.  Name changes protect the  innocent. For instance, the book, Centennial,  has material that is, without a doubt, very much  my grandfather, Pachal.  The name for the French trader in the book, though, is Paschanel.  My  book , “Chief” will be listed as Fiction, based on a true story. Mariah will be Mariah, Weldon will be Weldon.  I have called Dean, Dean,  in other stories and this one, I will too.  Velma will be Vee and Leon will be Leon.

         Just across from the roomy, adequate house for a family was a café. This property is what my parents rented and I now had a room of my own.

“How nice to be able to put my things in my own closet, again.” My dissatisfaction with the other living place was overcome, suddenly.  Clothes and shoes weren’t that plentiful,  but it was nice to have order.

Mother was still not at the house,  but at least, there were only  step away to where she was working. We were allowed to stop in at the café for our meals and that was okay. Dad helped in the café after his work.  He washed dishes, poured coffee, and chatted with the customers. The little café seated only around,  25.   A Mom and pop establishment was working very well.  Occasionally, if Vee had to run an errand, or be out for some reason,  I filled in as cook.  Flipping hamburgers or serving stew was an easy job.  Café was in Mother’s blood, but not mine.  I could take it or leave it.

“Order up, Girl!”  Dad called through the small window.  “One cannibal hamburger.

“What is that?”  I had no idea, what he wanted.

“A cannibal hamburger is raw.”  Dad informed me.

Dutifully, I rolled out the meat, put it on the grill for an instant, turned it, top and bottom,  placed the nasty looking thing on a bun and made it up with mustard, pickles, onions, and  tomatoes. 

In a few minutes the thing was back on the shelf of the serving window.

“You don’t put the meat on the grill at all.  Simply roll it out and serve it  raw.”  Dad was never impatient about anything and he wasn’t now.”

I looked out toward the man who had the hamburger I had just made and that Dad had served.  He was grinning like a Cheshire cat as he quietly wolfed the raw hamburger down.

“Oh Gag!”  I wanted to say out loud, but didn’t.

I still hated school but was doing a bit better.  There were some new friends and the hated, confinement of walking the halls I began to accept. Having my own room was a place of escape for me.

“What on earth!”  When I was putting my coat on a hanger, I could see clothes  in my closet that weren’t mine.  “Whose are these?”  I didn’t expect an answer.  When I pulled the dresser drawers out, there too,  was someone else’s wardrobe.

My school books I dropped on the end of the bed and decided to ask Mother ,who was at the café,  what she knew about the disappearance of my clothing.  As I walked into the back door of the place I was so astonished.  Standing up to the stainless steel row of sinks was Mariah, washing dishes.  She was dressed in one of her nicer outfits and looked totally out of place. 

“Mother!”  I started to quesion her. She quickly shook her head and wouldn’t look at me.  Clearly, she didn’t want me to ask any questions, so I didn’t.

That night after the café had closed Mariah came in my room.  I heard her brushing her teeth and quietly putting on her night clothes.  All my life Mariah had to put up with me sLeonping with her.  She was often my babysitter.

“Don’t kick me! or, “Stay on your side of the bed!”  She often advised.

Tonight not a word was said.  She slipped into bed, turned on her side away from me and said nothing.

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