August 12, 1921 | Part IV

Departing the corner homestead their father had built so many years ago, Theresa and Claire took one sideways glance back through the screen door. Their future memory would have to hold this picture for a very long time. Everything was as it always had been, the phonograph in the corner, a low loveseat against the hand-papered wall, the kitchen in the back right corner. The downstairs smelled of dusty potpourri and they stood remembering how their childhood was best when the potpourri was just picked.

Piling Theresa’s belongings into the boot of the car, Claire remembered only what she’d watched men do with automobiles in New Orleans. She stood affront the car and cranked the low lever, eventually commanding the driver’s seat and puttering slowly away from the picketed fence that held them in so many years.

Halfway down the road, Claire, who would have stopped for nothing in the world, realized she would not be back and had forgotten the most important person in her life thus far. Gerald. She decided to quickly turn back and say her goodbyes that now seemed much more permanent. As Claire turned the dusty left corner to the homestead, she saw Gerald standing with one foot on the picketed fence, overalls as usual, waiting as if they shared a mind. Claire begged him to come with them, but could only convince him to ride as far as the center of town.

Sputtering, the automobile warmed and Claire regained time lost as her speed progressed. They were approaching the southwest corner of the homestead where the road intersected with Main Monroe. To their left trickled the Ouachita Creek running through the county, to their right lay town. It was miserably hot this August, sickening Claire as she drove although the top was opened and a slight breeze caressed her face…the last thing she expected was another automobile traveling the same distance.

~~ * ~~

Anne found them there that 12th of August 1921…Claire in her 17th year, Theresa in her 19th, Gerald in his 20th. A vision no parent should ever behold, the metallic dust caked with a mother’s unwitting tears as she flailed herself upon the bodies of her daughters and nephew. Everything happened in summer. Sarah Claire Orr, born 1903, was remembered as a pretty girl, who could command a room with one sideways glance of her demure features. Claire, as her mother called her, never foresaw losing anything more than a doll or blanket during her childhood, yet ended up losing things vastly more meaningful.

Fin.