Harvey died before I could get to the hospital. I stood in his room at the foot of his bed, the morning sun now bright and blinding as it poured in the window. Jubalee’s shoulders shook as she cried over Harvey’s body. I felt empty, lost. What had Harvey ever done wrong to deserve this?
A long, long time ago, in bed one night with Aunt Ed, I’d wished for Harvey to become my grandfather. My wish had come true. He was the nicest man I had ever known.
Harvey was never going to call me “Tee-Cup” again.
“Juba. I’m so sorry.” I choked out the words. “I loved Harvey, too.” I reached out for her and gently touched her shoulder.
She slapped my hand away. “What do you know about love?” she demanded, as she turned to face me. “What could you ever know about love, Teenie? Ain’t nobody ever loved you.”
I drove home as fast as I could. Tears blinded me as I parked Bandit and made a bee-line to my garden. Sinking down on my knees in the soft dirt, I grabbed hold of the first weed, wiggling it as I tested its resistance. I pulled it from the earth. I moved on to the next one, then the one after that. The morning sun grew hot on my back and bare arms, but I kept at it. Each weed became something hurtful Jubalee had done to me, the deep roots the strings which tied me to her. I clawed at them as they hid under the surface. I ripped the weeds out, a fist-full at a time, cursing at them and double-dog daring them to come back. When I got to the last weed, I closed my eyes and yanked the son-of-a-bitch out of the ground, throwing it as far over my head as I could.
Strong, determined, caked in dark soil, my hands could no more rip out what Jubalee had done to me than they could bury my pain in the ground with Harvey.
Looking at the pile of weeds, I started to cry. I couldn’t stop, even though I knew how much Jubalee hated crying. Wiping away my tears, I made a mess of my face and got dirt in my eyes.
I heard the phone ringing, but I didn’t hurry inside to answer it.
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