Cloaked Miracles, Part 2
- Cloaked Miracles
- Cloaked Miracles, Part 2
- Cloaked Miracles, Part 3
Roslynd and her mother neared a place the town residents called The Crossroads. Dry cotton fields lined both sides of the intersection. Dead plant stocks knocked against one another as the afternoon wind ran down each row. An old scarecrow with a twisted grin, hunched over a dilapidated pole, danced as every gust howled at them. Roslynd shuddered and quickened her steps as it seemed to wave at her. Not you, too! She grabbed her mother’s arm and looked at the ground.
Mrs. Branner pulled her arm away from Roslynd and opened her purse. “Here. Take this and go to the Maverick’s store. I need you to buy more flour, a small slab of bacon, milk, and pepper.”
“Can you send Josiah to help me carry all that stuff?”
Mrs. Branner pointed towards the store, wiping sweat from her eyes. “You’ll manage. Now, go on and get back before I start supper.”
Roslynd huffed. “Yes, Ma’am.”
She crossed her arms as the wind whispered louder. Goosebumps crawled over her body when she heard the trees at the far end of each field moan. This wasn’t the first time she made a trip to the store alone, but the strange encounter with Mathias still jogged through her mind.
What powers do I have? What is the wrong thing?
Roslynd sighed in relief when she saw Maverick’s Grocery & Hardware in the distance. With her mind still racing, she dropped her handbag on the road and watched it bounce onto a dried cotton stalk. She gasped when her fingers brushed against the stem as she picked up her bag. The whole row of plants wiggled and immediately rose from the dirt mounds. Stalks looked as if an unseen hand had turned them into a kaleidoscope. They changed from brown to light brown and then to vibrant green.
Bewildered, Roslynd stumbled back and fell. She watched as each plant produced snow-white cotton bolls. She giggled because each new growth reminded her of the popcorn her father bought her at last year’s county fair. Then, as soon as that row completed its transformation, the rest of the field sparked to life.
She leapt up, rubbed her eyes, and yelled toward the store. “Hey! Mr. Maverick! Are you there?” She didn’t wait for a response before running the distance to the old building. A painted sign with Maverick’s Grocery & Hardware sketched in black swayed in the wind as Roslynd jumped over a small hay bale. Dust-covered windows lined the shop’s front. They displayed tools, clothes, and cereal boxes. Saloon-style doors scraped against its frame as they moved in unison with the strong breeze.
“Well! You’re in a hurry!” An older gentleman approached her as a cowbell slammed against the wall.
Roslynd motioned towards the door and ran outside. “Oh, Mr. Haggleman! You gotta see this!”
The old farmer hobbled closely behind her. “You run like an ole jackrabbit!”
“You would, too, if you saw what happened!”
“Well, what’s the fuss all about?” Mr. Haggleman panted and placed his hands on his hips.
Roslynd pointed towards the cotton field and smiled. “Look. Would you just look at that!”
The farmer gasped and leaned forward. Every field shined with brilliant greens and whites. Whisps of silver hair fell across his weathered forehead. “Can you smell that?”
Roslynd shrugged. “Smell what?”
“That earthy smell—like churned dirt. That cotton is fresh!” Mr. Haggleman placed a hand on his chin. “How did that happen?”
Roslynd shook her head and remained quiet as Mr. Haggleman debated the sight. She didn’t tell him about her powers because Mathias said he’d take them away if she blabbed her mouth to anyone. Her gaze floated across the once-dead fields now covered with new growth.
I just touched one plant, and everything around here looks like a drought never devoured this land.
“Did ya hear me, girl?”
“No, sir. I’m sorry.”
“I said go get your Pa!”
Roslynd nodded. The old scarecrow still waved as she approached The Crossroads. She ran to the right and hopped over a broken fence rail near the dirt road. Dust twirled as she hurried onto a trail that disappeared into the forest. Roslynd explored these back trails since she was a small child, and she knew they would cut her travel time in half. Pine and oak trees shaded her from the summer heat as she looked for the makeshift bridge she had made before the sickness and drought hit Harvest, MS.
There it is. I need to fix—
She stopped so quickly that she winced as her teeth rattled together. Fallen tree branches began floating towards the broken bridge. Vines unwrapped themselves from live trees and weaved around the suspended components. Mud shot from the creek bed and squeezed between the gaps. Roslynd stumbled forward as a gust of hot air blasted past her. The wet soil turned beige. The vines tightened deeply into the wood, and the apparatus sat down over the small stream.
Roslynd gasped aloud. “A bridge. I made a bridge with my mind!”
Fifteen minutes blurred by with each tree and shrub she passed. Soon, the Branner’s house came into sight when she stepped out of the forest. The browned grass crunched under her feet. She looked up as she walked and watched the blue-sky fade into gray, dark blue, and mauve purple clouds. The crude, white house appeared to gleam against the gloomy backdrop. Rusted metal strips topped the home as a roof, and faded posts held up the front porch. Roslynd remembered the day she helped her father paint the poles. They matched springtime in bloom once the final coat of paint dried. Now, loose wooden planks peeked through the pale green columns. Even the old roof jumped from its place if the wind hit it at the right angle.
Roslynd noticed Josiah was sitting on the porch steps. “Hey! You’ll never believe what happened! That old bridge by the creek—well, it’s all—”
Josiah stood and held up his hand. “Will you shut up for a minute?”
“You ain’t gotta be so rude!”
“It’s Pa. We were cutting down trees, and the one I was working on fell on him. He’s bad off.”
Roslynd’s throat tightened. “Wh. Where is he?”
Her brother motioned for her to follow him inside. She noticed several pots and pans scattered across the kitchen floor as she walked to her parent’s room. A coffee kettle sat unattended on the wood-burning stove. Roslynd crinkled her nose and placed the kettle on a counter near the bedroom as she heard Mrs. Branner’s sobs drift under the door.
Josiah knocked and waited. “Ma? Roslynd’s back.”
“Does she have the groceries?”
“Tell her to walk her tail-end back to that store and get our food!”
Roslynd shifted around Josiah. “Ma, Mr. Haggleman told me to come and get Pa. He needs to talk to him.”
“Your Pa ain’t in no condition to get out of bed. Now, go fetch our groceries!”
Roslynd’s eyes started burning, and her face flushed red. “Can I see my Pa?”
She squeezed her hands into tight balls and slammed them onto the kitchen table. “Why does she treat me like I’m some sort of stranger?”
Josiah shrugged. “You’d best go on and get the food. Ma will be mad sure enough if you ain’t back soon.”
Roslynd trudged to the miracle bridge. She sat on a tree stump and tried thinking about happier times with her mother, but everything always ended with yelling. They never seemed to get along. The thoughts bombarded her as she leaned forward, grabbed her stomach, and cried.
Why can’t she just be nice to me?
She huffed and began crossing the bridge. A dove landed on the handrail and cooed at her. Roslynd grinned. “Yeah, me too, little bird, me too.” A dried pile of leaves rustled next to her as she walked towards the fence. The wind seemed to whisper her name, so she stopped and allowed the breeze to touch her face.
You can do what you want.
“Who’s there?” Roslynd spun around, looked, and jumped when the voice echoed in her ears again.
You can have anything you desire.
Her heart thumped harder in her chest as she hopped over the fence. She started jogging and skidded to a stop when she looked in the field where the old scarecrow once leaned and wobbled with age. It now sat cross-legged on top of the pole. She swore its head followed her as she sprinted down the road.
It’s only a dream. My mind’s playin’ tricks on me!
She sighed as she entered Mavericks. Roslynd placed the groceries in a milk crate and explained why her father didn’t return with her. She handed Mr. Haggleman two dollars. “Can you give me a ride home? That scarecrow at the Crossroads spooks me whenever I pass that ole thing.”
“Sure, I can give ya a lift. But what scarecrow?”