As long ago as she could remember Edwinna had no friends and she didn’t care. Sitting on the front porch in a cotton print dress and thin strapped sandals, the teenager pushed the swing slowly in the summer heat.
“Momma? Would you bring me some lemonade? I’m bone dry out here.”
Within moments the screen door was pushed open by a black metal tray holding two frosty glasses of iced tea, a saucer of fresh cut lemon wedges, and an opened box of ginger snaps.
“Momma, I said ‘lemonade.'”
“Yes, sweetheart, I know but we only had these few slices left and I’d just brewed this tea you like. So I know this will be fine. Won’t it? Scoot over a bit now and let your old mother take a rest along side ya.”
With great effort Edwinna uncrossed her legs and pushed her slender body to the far side of the bench. Margie settled in the middle.
“It’s too hot to be fussin’ in the kitchen tonight so instead of turning on the stove for a hot meal I think I’ll open a can of tuna, the kind packed in water like you like? Then I’ll hard boil some eggs and chop the celery fine and add a little mayonnaise, but I promise not too much. Now doesn’t that sound tasty?”
The girl never looked at her now gray haired mother as she babbled on but knew if she didn’t respond Margie would continue talking until she got some feedback.
“That’s fine, Momma. Whatever. I’m not very hungry.”
“Now, Edwinna, you have to eat something to keep up your strength. Why you are positively ‘wispy’ in your being, that’s what Mrs. Jamison said. ‘Wispy’ why I have no idea what that even means except I think it means you could use a little more roundness about you. You know, less bony.”
The young girl played with the lemon floating on top of the iced tea with her index finger. “Tuna fish is fine, Momma,” she sighed.
“I saw Mrs. Jamison and her son, what’s his name? Matthew? Yes, Matthew at the market…”
Edwinna half listened as her mother droned on and on but had learned early that no encouragement was needed for the woman’s one sided conversation to continue. Actually, it was better if she said nothing since an argument would only ensue if she ever spoke her mind. The exact opposite would happen with her father. The moment she would contradict or question anything he said the still thin, white haired man would clam up. So afraid, Henry was, of losing the affection of the child he adored, he seldom had conversations beyond the obvious. The weather was usually safe territory for the two of them when Henry drove her to school. But lately she turned the music up loud on the rock ‘n roll station in the pick-up’s radio so the only thing he could count on her saying at all was ‘please drop me at the light three blocks from the school.’
It never occurred to either Henry or Margie that their cherished daughter was ashamed of them.