Thursday photo prompt – Luna – #writephoto

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Photo by Sue Vincent

They sat on the front porch, rickety oak planks creaking under hard wooden rockers, watching the last remnants of dusk fade from view.  The  half-moon near a misty horizon looked as if Martha could touch it.  She reached toward it, her new husband laughed, and she blushed her embarrassment. 

“When are your parents going to replace the wood on this porch?”  Martha asked. 

“I love the sound of rocking,” Jerry replied.  “One day, you’ll love it, too.”

“No, she won’t,” A voice said.

Wearing a long grey dress with a brown apron over it, she stood next to Jerry’s chair, the details of her face marred by insufficient moonlight. Her white hair betrayed her age as somewhere over 60.

“Who the hell are you?” Martha asked.

“She ain’t got no manners, Jerome,” the woman said.  “She’ll be an all right wife, but there ain’t no motherin’ instinct in her.”

“Jerry?  You know this woman?” Martha demanded.

“My great-great-great-grandmother, Mabel, built this house with her husband and her sons in 1843,”  Jerry said.  “Mabel died at the age of 49 giving birth to her 20th child in 1850, my great-great grandmother.”

“Nice story.  What does that have to do with this woman?”

“Mabel’s last words were a vow to God that if he saved her life she swore she’d watch over every one of her children until their death.”

“Jerry!”  Martha yelled at him.

“Mabel has run off robbers, murderers, coyotes, anything that might harm us…for the past 117 years.”

“You’re telling me that I’m talking to a ghost?” Martha demanded.

Jerry gulped.  “Yes, love.”

“Cool!”  Martha said.  “Pull up a seat, Mabel.  Let’s talk.”

“About what?”  Jerry demanded.

“I want to know all about her life!”  Martha said.  “Mabel, where were you born?  Why did you pick this place as your home?”

“I don’t know ’bout her,”  Mabel said.  “Not lunacy, but she ain’t right in the head.”

“I’m not supposed to be right in the head,”  Martha chuckled.  “I’m a writer, and I want to write a book about you.”

“She cares ’bout me? This one’s a keeper,”  Mabel chuckled.  “She ain’t like the last seven I runned off.”

“Seven?”  Martha asked.  “You married seven women before one didn’t run away screaming?”

“No,”  Jerry said.  “You’re the only woman I’ve married.  I was that certain Mabel would love you.”

The first time Martha sat on this rocker, the creaking porch sounded like fingernails down a chalkboard.  As she listened to Mabel talk about her childhood as the oldest of 12, washing dishes while standing on a stool at the age of 4,  knowing only the skills of motherhood and homemaking, and marrying at 15, the creaking sounds made by their rockers faded away.

“Can you leave this place?”  Martha asked.

“Saved a grandson in New York City once,”  she said.  “Why ya wanna know?”

“Babysitting,”  Martha replied with a wry smile.


© Joelle LeGendre