Book Excerpt – Evelyn Evolving

This is always a really busy time for me as I jump between two drama camps – one that just finished and one that starts July 10th – and have my birthday bash in between. But I love the company, and I love the kids who come to the camps. Even though I am ready to pass on the responsibility for organizing them, I will miss the kids and all the fun.

Today I am posting another excerpt of the book I’m writing about my mother. This picks up where I left off on June 16th. It is hot, hot, hot here in Texas, so I have some lemonade to share. Enjoy a glass as you read along.

Running a finger along the lace on the edge of the cloth, Evelyn thought about her mother. Where was she now? Did she ever think about her and Viola? Then she thought about Miz Beatrice. Had The Cancer taken her?

“What are you doing?”

Startled, Evelyn looked up and saw Sister Honora. “Nothing, Sister. Just—”

“You weren’t sent here to do nothing.”

“No, Sister. I will get to work right now.”

“What do you have there?”
“Nothing… I” Evelyn tried to drop the handkerchief into the box, but Sister Honora grabbed it. “Please don’t take it. It’s the only thing I have left of my mother.”

Sister looked at the cloth in her hand for a moment, and Evelyn hoped. “Your mother left you here, child. What should you care about a stupid handkerchief?”

The words punctured Evelyn’s heart. “May I please have it back?”

Her plea was barely a whisper, but even that was ignored.

Sister held onto the handkerchief, and Evelyn slid the box back under the cot, tears burning in her eyes. She blinked the wetness back, not wanting to show weakness, and stood. Sister was still standing there, watching, and little prickles of alarm erupted on Evelyn’s back. It didn’t bode well when Sister stood like a statue, her eyes boring into Evelyn. “As your punishment for shirking your duties, you will not have supper.”

Anger reared its ugly head, and Evelyn fought to control it. This was so wrong. She was not shirking. She worked hard, but she knew better than to voice any of her thoughts. Nothing was right or fair in this horrible place.

“You will also mop the boys’ ward.”

Evelyn forced the anger aside and nodded.

“Don’t just stand there.” Sister pounded her walking stick on the floor to punctuate her words. “Get busy.”

Evelyn dodged around Sister and grabbed the mop. By the time she finished the floor in the girls’ ward, the water was freezing and her hands were red and stiff from wringing out the mop. The supper bell had rung a few minutes ago, so this would not be a good time to go to the kitchen for warm water. Not only did she not want to see the other children eating, she didn’t want to be under the scrutiny of Sister Honora, so Evelyn would finish with cold water. Pushing with the handle of the mop, she rolled the bucket along the uneven wooden planking of the floor into the boy’s sleeping area, which was just like the girls’ ward, only it smelled of sweat and something else she couldn’t place.

As Evelyn mopped, she thought about what Viola had told her about how some of the children came to be here, and she wondered which boys had been left by their mothers and which had not. Viola had told her that some of the children had no mother or father. They were dead, and the children had no place to go, so they came here to St. Aemilian’s. Evelyn wondered if knowing that your parents had no choice in leaving you made it easier to be here. When Evelyn had gotten old enough to understand that her mother chose to leave her, that realization had cut a deep fissure of pain that still hurt. Those first few years of ignorance had been better.

She preferred not knowing what abandonment felt like.

That’s all for me, folks. I do hope you have a wonderful weekend. Mine will be quiet for a change. Which is a good change, as I can rest up for next week. 

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