Her mouth felt numb after she closed it. In the gait of the walking dead, Netta made her way toward home. After a while, she changed directions, deciding she’d better talk with her momma right away, although she was terrified of what she'd say, not just about Eva, but about why they weren't in school. She could blame Eva, but her momma knew that trick. She would never believe Eva decided to go walk in the Baring Woods unless Netta pushed her to.
“Shoot, it's your own fault, Eva, for stopping at that thing and for digging it up, too!” Netta said aloud, resentment scrunching up her little face. “And then you go and run off! Just how stupid you have to be to run off on your own in these parts?”
The anger left her when she remembered what she saw moving up Eva’s arm and onto her shoulder and back, and fear crept into the cold space left in her chest. She began to pant heavily, and took a deep breath. “Poor Eva. My poor Eva, what happened to you?” After a moment with her head low, she answered, “Only God knows. I surely don’t.”
Her momma saw her before Netta realized she’d made it that far. She hadn’t even heard the barking and scratching of the pups at the storefront window. Before she could think of what to say, her momma came out of the store and asked, “Where’s Eva, Netta?” Immediately after that, with a tone of chastisement, she said, “Why aren’t you in school?” When she saw the weird expression on Netta’s face, she took a slow, nervous breath. “Is that where Eva is? Is she in school?”
Netta blurted out, hardly taking a breath, “Eva’s the one who decided to get it! I told her not to touch it. I even pushed her hand away, but she ignored me. Then she dug it up and held it. She wouldn’t even let me touch it before running away. And that’s when I saw something crawling all over her arm and back. I called after her, but she kept running. Since we aren’t supposed to go to in the Baring Woods, I couldn’t follow her, so I came straight to you, Momma. I would've gone to school if Eva had listened to me and not picked up that thing!”
Netta wanted to continue on with her explanation, but her momma stooped down in front of her, held her by the shoulders, and asked, “What was it she picked up, Netta?”
“It was something beautiful, and I’m sure it’s worth a lot of money, but Eva wouldn’t hear of selling it. I figured we could pay off the house and then go on that vacation to Disneyland. Only she got greedy and ran off.”
“What did she pick up, Netta?” she asked again, holding Netta tighter by the arms.
“I don’t know.” She began to get scared at the concern in her momma's voice.
“Tell me what it looked like.” Her momma sounded like the detective in that old TV show. Netta wanted to say it looked like Harpo Jones’ cheek when he got beat up, but thought better of it. She considered hard, and finally said, “It was round and smooth on one side and flat on the other, and looked like fake, dark red blood, but dry… I think… and swollen. I didn’t touch it. It had dark patches on it. Eva said it wasn’t alive because it wasn’t warm like something alive. She said it wasn’t cold either, but like butter left out. You know, not hot or cold?”
“Room temperature,” her momma said. “What happened after that? Where did she run off to?”
Eva remembered about room temperature from a science lesson in school. She wondered why she hadn’t thought about that when Eva was describing it.
“Tell me now, Netta! What was it that Eva had and what did it do to her?” She no longer sounded like that detective. She sounded close to mad... crazy mad.
“Only God knows, Momma. But one thing’s for sure, it was alive!”
on Thursday, May 1, 2014 ~