Let it Go

                         Aviva Smith

 

It was a clear and beautiful spring morning. Elizabeth Curry was carrying the two buckets of milk across the wide-open yard to the house. As she was briskly walking along, mentally ticking off what had all ready been accomplished and what still needed to be done, she failed to notice the marbles lying in the yard. She stepped right on them causing her feet to go flying up in the air.  She landed hard on her bottom as a shower of milk came raining down over her.

 

“BLOODY HELL  she yelled.  Mrs. Curry did not commonly curse but she was furious.  This was the last straw.  For the past several weeks the boys had become more and more careless with their possession’s, leaving them lying around all over the farms.  Why it was just two days ago that Rebecca Heyes had tripped over the wooden soldiers and fallen down the porch stairs causing her to have to rewash all the families clothes and linens.  And it was just the week before that her own husband had got hit on the head when the he was moving supplies in the barn and the boys rock collection which they had left lying about in the loft had fallen on him.  He still had a goose egg on his head.

 

“JEDEDIAH PATRICK CURRY,  HANNIBAL MICHAEL HEYES, YOU BOYS GET OVER HERE NOW ”  she yelled.

 

Nine year old Jed and eleven year old Han were in the barn doing chores. The boys typically worked together when they could, getting their chores done first at one house and then at the other.  It made the work go by quicker giving them more free time and they enjoyed spending their days together.  When they heard Mrs. Curry yelling for them they knew something was wrong and went racing out of the barn toward her.  As they turned the corner they skidded to a halt when they saw her, picking herself up, honey blonde hair hanging down and wet, her dress soaked and muddy, the empty buckets on the ground beside her and the marbles scattered around. They knew they were in big trouble.

 

 

Hannibal immediately started talking a mile a minute, apologizing and explaining how they had been in the middle of a game but had to stop when they realized that they had forgotten to sweep out the barn and they knew that they would be in trouble if they didn’t get that barn swept out so that’s what they were doin’...  

 

and Jed with no thought but to help his mother had immediately started to run to her, but one look from her stopped both boys dead in their tracks.

 

“Look at this, will you just look at this.  How many times have you boys been told not to leave your things lying around? What’s it going to take to get you to pick up after yourselves? Does someone need to be seriously hurt”?

 

The boys shamefacedly kept their heads down, accepting the scolding.  They knew that they had been careless and that there had been a lot of accidents because of them.

 

Mrs. Curry kept the boys busy for the rest of the day running between the two farms with extra chores. It was late when they finally made it to the Heyes’s farm where Mrs. Heyes had invited the Curry’s to join them for supper as she didn’t have extra to send to them but there would be enough food for the two families to share.

 

That evening, after dinner when the boys returned to the house after completing the extra evening chores, their parents were waiting for them.   

 

Jed’s pa started,   “There have been far too many accidents here lately due to your carelessness. You boys are too old to have your *mama’s* picking up after you.  You’re always saying how grown up you are but that we treat you like babies, well, if you want to be treated like adults you had better start acting like ones and that means accepting the consequences for your actions”.

 

”That means that if you don’t take care of your possessions, you will lose them. If we find your toys laying around, if we have to pick them up, we will take them away from you.  Do you boys understand?”  asked Hannibal’s pa sternly.  

 

“Yes sir  both boys said as they nodded their heads tiredly.  It had been a very long and hard day for them.

 

            For the next several days the boys were extremely careful to pick up after themselves and to be more helpful in general by doing extra chores without being asked. But of course, this only lasted for a few days. Each boy lost several of their prized possessions before they became fully aware of the consequences. It was a hard lesson for them to learn.

 

Jed was missing the whistle that he had carved, some of his best marbles and the whittling knife that he had just recently gotten for his birthday. He had been so proud of receiving the knife because it meant he was really growing up and his father trusted him.  That had been especially hard for him to lose because it had shamed him.  

 

Han had also lost marbles, his coonskin hat, and his three favorite tin soldiers. He had been especially mad about having to rewrite a theme for school.  It had been on the Three Musketeers which his father had been reading to the family each evening.  He had spent a lot of time on the theme but had left it on the floor in front of the fireplace that night and his ma said that if she had to pick it up, it was hers.  He had to write it all over again instead of going out during recess and lunch the next day at school.  

 

On Saturday afternoon the following week, Hannibal was waiting for Jed impatiently by the fishing hole.  Finally he saw his cousin trudging slowly through the grass. Jed plopped down beside him.

 

“What took you so long”?  “And where’s your fishin’ pole?” Hannibal asked crossly.

 

“My ma’s got it and that’s what took so long”. Jed snapped.

 

Whadda mean”? asked Hannibal

 

“I put the pole out by the table this morning after breakfast so that as soon as I finished my chores I could grab it and go.  But when I finished, it weren’t there. I hunted all over for it.  Finally I asked my ma and she said that she found it on the floor next to the table and so she took it. Put it with my other stuff in the pantry.

An’ I spent a good long time hunting for it too”. grumbled Jed. Hannibal, I thought you said the grownups would forget about this soon”. said Jed.

 

“I know”, sighed Hannibal, “I thought they would have by now”.

 

Hannibal looked over at his cousin, grinned and said, “Don’t worry Jed, I’ll come up with a plan, you know I always do”.

 

“I know”, sighed Jed, “I’m just worried that we won’t have nothin’ left to play with when you finally do”. 

 

“Anyhow, we are getting better, I haven’t had nothing taken from me in over a week and you hadn’t neither until now”.  said Hannibal.

 

The boys spent the rest of the afternoon taking turns fishing and making plans.  Hannibals’ father had been telling them the story of “The Three Musketeers” and the boys were busy planning scenes to play. 

They had been retelling the story to some of the other boys and girls from the neighboring farms and they had already decided who would be who. Hannibal was going to be Athos and Jed was to be D’Artagnan. They had already gotten permission from Jed’s pa to fix up part of the barn to play in. They had been working on making swords and shields for a while.  Jed’s ma had made them cloaks to wear out of some of her and Hannibal’s ma’s old fancy dresses.

 

A few days later, Hannibal and Jed were sitting on the Curry’s porch working on their swords and shields for the game. Jed was just finished working on his sword. The blade was long and smooth and came to a sharp point (not to sharp, his pa had seen to that) and it had a curved handle which fit his hand perfectly. He was waving it around making sure that the heft was perfect. 

 

Hannibal had spent weeks working on his shield. He had pored over the woodpile for hours looking for the perfect piece of wood. He had carved and whittled it until it was the perfect shape.  It was three feet high by two foot wide. The two top corners curled in and there was a gentle arch in the middle. The bottom was curved. He had sanded it to glass like smoothness but what he was most proud of was his coat of arms that he had etched into it. All that was left to do was to stain it which his pa was going to help him do as soon as it was ready. 

 

Hannibal looked up and saw his pa and uncle returning from their trip pulling up in the wagon.  They had been to town to get supplies.  Hannibal and Jed jumped down from the porch to go help them unload the supplies into the barn.  His uncle had just gotten a new shotgun and they spent quite a while standing around admiring and discussing it. They all took a turn holding and aiming it even the boys, talking about what a good feel it had and how it sat just right. There was even the hint that maybe soon the boys would be allowed to start using the old shotgun.

 

When they had finished, the boys returned to the porch to continue working on their swords and shields but they were gone.  The boys stood there with their mouths open.  No, she couldn’t have.  They went racing into the house just in time to find Mrs. Curry putting the swords and shields away in the closet. Hannibal’s heart was racing.

 

“We just left it for a little bit”. He said shakily.

 

Mrs. Curry just looked at him sadly and said,  I’m really sorry but you boys know the rules, if I find something lying around, I keep it.”

 

      “Ma, you can’t”!  cried Jed. 

 

Jed turned to his father and pleaded, “ Pa, tell her, we just left ‘em to help you with the supplies”.

 

“Now honey, I know we all agreed to that but this is different.  We called them over and they didn’t have time to…………… Mr. Curry started.

      But Mrs. Curry was adamant.  “We all agreed, they need to learn to be more responsible”.

            Mr. Heyes started soothingly, “That’s right, the boys just came to help us unload the supplies.  We kept them by showing them the new shotgun and

Hannibal saw his father hesitate.

           

“That’s not fair, I didn’t just leave it. That’s stealing.  Ya got no right to take my shield.  Hannibal shouted angrily.

 

“BOY!  HOLD YOUR TONGUE  thundered Mr. Heyes.

 

 

 

Twenty years later in a hotel room in BOUNTIFUL

 

KID CURRY WITH HIS ARM AROUND HEYES: “Like my dear old mom used to say.      

       Finders Keepers Losers Weepers…..”

 

HEYES GLARING AT HIM:   “Your mother was a crook”.

 

Kid:  “Aw Heyes, let it go.”