Monday, August 6, 2018

Andi's Journal--a scary night


May 12, 1887

Last night was a night to be remembered. Or forgotten.
I think I'd rather forget about it.
Soon after getting back from the Circle C (Sunday dinner lasted until dusk) I got it into my head to make some huckleberry muffins. Mother had given me a whole cupful—just enough to make a batch of muffins.
I guess Mitch had been up in the hills and had taken the time to pick those pesky berries. His purple fingers showed his dedication. He brought them home for Mother and the rest of the family, and Mother shared with me.
Everybody knows how much I like huckleberries. It’s so rare to find them, though, and you have to go so high in the mountains, that even as a child I never picked them very often.
But honestly, I would rather take my chances with the black bears (who consider huckleberry bushes their own private stash) and pick huckleberries than sit around like a fat old lady and sew.
Ah, but I digress . . .
Riley was tired and went to bed. I should have waited until morning, but I had a craving (call it what you will) to have a huckleberry muffin right now. The longer I looked at that little bowl of berries, the worse the hankering got.
I quickly stirred up a batch of the muffins and slid them into the oven.
I’ll have one now and save the rest for tomorrow, I mused. They’ll be great for breakfast. I’ll serve them with milk.
I should have taken up my sewing basket and stitched a few seams. After all, the baby wasn’t waiting for me to finish his or her chest of clothes. But I grabbed a Jules Verne book that I had not yet read, even though it came out years and years ago.  
I figured a scary adventure would keep me awake.
It did. But alas, I got so caught up in Five Weeks in a Balloon that I forgot about the muffins. I forgot about Riley. I even forgot about the baby (which is hard to do, since evenings are his “I’m going to kick myself out of here” time.
An overpowering stench brought me out of the clouds (literally, the balloon was sailing through the clouds) and back down to earth. Oh, no!
I leaped from the comfy settee and threw open the heavy cookstove door. My heart plunged to my toes as thick, black smoke rolled from the oven. My muffins!
I grabbed a potholder and pulled the muffin tin out of the oven, plunking it on the wooden table. The muffins were scorched and black as charcoal. The burnt smell filled the kitchen. There was nothing to be done about it but open every window I could find.
Then I cleaned up my mess.
I dumped the hard-as-rocks muffins onto the tabletop. Maybe the inside was better. I could scrape off the charred outside and still have a taste of huckleberry.
Maybe.
I cut one in half and found the middle to be as unappetizing as the outside. Not even the chickens will eat these. I gagged and threw those horrid muffins away.
Tired—and disappointed beyond belief—I pulled on a nightgown and climbed into bed.
The baby suddenly decided he hadn’t had enough play time tonight. He jumped and kicked and rolled. I tossed and turned.
I dozed. Riley slept like a rock.
Around midnight I gave up on sleeping. The whole house still smelled like a forest fire. I crept from the bed, tied on my housecoat, and tiptoed to the kitchen for a cup of tea.
Should I wake Riley? I wondered. A mean, disappointed part of my mind said yes, he should also suffer his baby’s nighttime activities.
Then I relented. He had a big day tomorrow with Chad. Whenever Chad grabbed Riley for some kind of ranch project, my poor husband came home ragged.  
I entered the kitchen and stopped short. Some kind of animal was perched on the kitchen windowsill. That’s what happens when I open the windows and let down my guard.
“Shoo,” I whispered. I flapped my housecoat at the critter and made my way towards the window.
It didn’t move. But it did hiss. Ferociously! And it sprang toward me.
I shrieked and staggered backward, catching myself against the kitchen table. A racoon! And a mean one. My mind spun. Maybe even rabid.
It scampered around and around the kitchen. I was too scared to move.
I shouldn’t have been. I’ve come across raccoons before. But in the dark, with barely a moon? Ha. I did the most natural thing in the world.
“Riley!”
He came running. “What wrong?” He sniffed. “What’s that awful smell?”
“Never mind,” I said. “I left the window open. “It’s a raccoon, but acting crazy-wild.”
Riley hurried to light a lamp. He held it up.
Suddenly, the creature came running for us. I could see his wild eyes and the foam around his mouth.
Rabies! I stepped backward.
Riley grabbed the broom and started whacking. A broom? Really? For a rabid raccoon? Where was the rifle? Or the pistol. Or—
“Quick!” he hollered. “Open the door!”
            Riley swept the racoon outside and slammed the door after him, then ran for his rifle. Clad only in his long johns, he went outside and took aim.
Bang! Then another bang!
“Did you get it?” I shrieked.
Shaken, I dropped into a chair and tried to recover my wits. When at last Riley came back inside and put away his rifle, I threw myself into his arms and cried.
“I’m sorry! I left the windows open. That creature never would have gotten in if—” My voice was lost in a fit of sobs.
Riley held me close. “It’s all right. I got him. The raccoon didn’t bite you or anything, did it?”
I shook my head.
“All’s well that end’s well,” he said. “It smells like there was a good reason for keeping the windows open.” He chuckled.
Not funny. I didn’t laught. I was too busy thinking about how close we’d both come to peril. If that racoon had bitten either one of us—
Oh, Lord, thanks for keeping us both safe.
After a while, I had calmed down. The first thing I did was shut the windows. Afterwards I made a kettle of tea while Riley went out to check on the stock, Trevor, and Tucker.
“I want to let the hands know all’s well. I’m sure they heard the shots.”
All two of them.
By the time he came back and announced all was well, I had two cups of tea and a plate of Mother’s sugar cookies ready. We sat down side by side at the table to have our midnight snack.
“What were you doing up this time of night anyway?” Riley wanted to know.
“The baby wouldn’t let me sleep. I wanted to brew some tea.” I stared at the liquid in my cup. “I opened the windows last night because I burned my muffins.”
Riley’s eyebrows shot up. “Muffins? After that big meal at your Mother’s?”
I shrugged. Sometimes I can’t seem to do anything right. I told Riley so.
“Yes, you can.” He smiled and reached for my hand. “You’re great with horses. And you’re wonderful with the little ones.” He winked. “I’ve watched. You’re going to be a great mother.”
I didn’t say anything.
“Most importantly,” Riley finished, “you’re great at being a wife. My wife.” He squeezed my hand. “I love you.”
“I love you too.” I dropped my head on his shoulder and let out a breath.
So what if I can’t cook? And I forget to close the windows? And for sure I’m not the greatest at housework.
But God (and my husband and family) love me just as I am, and that’s all that matters.

           

5 comments:

  1. :) :) :) :) I loved it Mrs M!!!! Thanks for posting it!

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  2. Toward the end it says laught. Shouldn't it be laugh?

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  3. Aww, so sweet! Riley is an amazing character.
    Emily

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  4. Andi, Andi, And!😂 Usaully always getting into some trouble! 😊 (Which makes the story way more fun) Your a good writer Susan!

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  5. Where's photo Friday?

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