Hope you enjoy these excerpts from Remember Della
Excerpt #1 - The Scarf
I HATED THAT despicable clock. I hated the way those two nerve-jangling, damnable bells blasted me so urgently from sleep every morning. I snatched the clock up, shut off the alarm and slammed the offending thing back onto the nightstand. Throwing the covers back and my legs over the side of the bed, I stood unsteadily a moment before aiming my body at the door leading to the hall. Destination—the bathroom. But as my fingers touched the doorknob the clock began its shrill intonations again. Oh dear Lord! That sound, so early in the morning, was the equivalent of fingernails screeeking down a chalkboard. Hadn’t I just turned the dad-blamed thing off? Maybe I jarred the lever into the ‘on’ position when I, perhaps a little too vigorously, delivered the clock back to its pocked resting place.
I retraced my steps and after turning the alarm off, again, placed the clock on the nightstand—a little more gently this time. And for more reasons than one, I moved a wee bit faster for the bedroom door. I reached it a second time and stopped cold—the God-forsaken clock was, once again, clanging for attention! With the strangest mixture of anger, fear and foreboding I walked back, turned the alarm off a third time and buried ‘Baby Ben’ not only under the covers, but both pillows as well. Then I ran back to the door, jerked it open and took off through it.
Instead of the hall outside my bedroom door, I found myself out on the street in front of my house—still dressed in baby doll pajamas and walking toward my bus stop. There wasn’t time to go home and change. The school bus had arrived and it sat idling as a half-dozen students climbed on. I waved and yelled for them to wait, but no one seemed to hear.
Running for the bus wasn’t even an option, for it was suddenly as if my feet and I were slogging through knee-deep mud. I could only watch as the door closed and the bus pulled off without me. Oddly, I felt thoroughly and utterly bereft—as if all my hopes and dreams had taken off with that big yellow bus.
As the bus lumbered down the road something yellow flew out an open window. Even from where I stood I could see it was a scarf—a yellow scarf—lifting, floating and fluttering in the early morning breeze.
My legs came unglued and I began running after that scarf like my life depended upon reaching it before it touched the ground. I caught up to it, but each time I attempted to pluck it from the air a breeze would whisk it away, lifting it just beyond my reach over and over again. I soon began to tire of the game and was about to abandon the chase when the wind picked up and blew the scarf toward me instead of away, pressing it against the lower half of my face. Slowly, almost as if caressing me, the scarf began to move along my skin. It slid over my mouth, under my chin, and down my neck. Snaking round and round my throat, it became longer and longer, tighter and tighter—and I began struggling for air . . .
I sat at the kitchen table while Momma contemplated what to do with the ground beef thawing out on the counter. She settled on goulash and was checking the pantry to see if she had all the ingredients when it occurred to her she hadn’t heard a peep out of Gordy. The quietude must have alerted her to his absence.
She turned to me, “Where’s Gordy—up in his room?”
I shook my head no. “He’s not home yet.”
She checked her watch and asked, “Did you hear his bus come by?”
“No’m. It’s probably running late.”
“Gordy should be home by now, Katherine.” She gave me a doubtful look and asked, “You’re sure his bus hasn’t come by?”
The look of concern on her face was fleeting, and we both cringed as Gordy heralded his arrival by slamming the front door so hard the house shook. Momma yelled at the top of her lungs, “Gordy!” When he came barreling through the doorway she asked, “How many times have I told you not to slam the door like that? You’ve already taken a minimum of ten years off my life!”
He never even heard a word she said because he was talking louder and faster than his customary mile-a-minute. His words practically ran together as he said, “You shoulda seen it! Sammy Spellman throwed up all over prissy ol’ Becky Taylor on the bus! We had beets for lunch an’ Sammy ate a whole bowl of ‘em. I bet that’s what made him throw up. He says he likes ‘em, but I don’t believe it for a minute. I think he just eats ‘em to show off. But the really good part is Sammy’s throw-up was all red—like he was throwing up blood! Then ol’ Becky started crying an’ everything, and Cindy Walker started gagging ‘cause throw-up splattered all over her shoes an’ then she throwed up. It was so cool! They were sitting across the aisle from me, an’ I got to see it all. And Becky, with her weirdo-self, told Mikey Olson she was gonna wipe throw up on him ‘cause he laughed at her. And the bus driver had to stop the bus an’ calm everybody down. It was Coolsville!
I could see Momma was trying to keep a straight face as she said, “Gordy that’s enough—there’s nothing cool about someone throwing beets up all over the place.”
“Well I couldn’t be sure, but from the smell of it I think Sammy must’ve been sick at both ends. I tell–”
“Gordy!!!” Gordy was treading on very thin ice.
“It’s the truth! It was gross I tell ya. Gross enough to gag a maggot! Everybody sitting around ‘em looked like they were gonna puke—’cept me. The bus driver made everybody get off, and the monitor had to go to somebody’s house to call for another bus and for Sammy an’ Becky an’ Cindy’s parents to come and get ‘em.”
“Dear Lord, I hope Sammy’s not contagious.” And in spite of the fact we weren’t Catholic, Momma crossed herself.