Kin

Kin by Lesley Crewe Read Free Book Online Page A

Book: Kin by Lesley Crewe Read Free Book Online
Authors: Lesley Crewe
Tags: Fiction, General, Sagas, Family Life, Contemporary Women
arms and legs were wrapped around her so tightly that she wouldn’t let go.
    Mom sat on the sofa and rocked Lila back and forth. “You’re fine now. You’re safe.” Mom gestured for Annie to give her the quilts, so Annie passed them to her mother and she placed them over Lila.
    â€œTake her shoes off and put these socks on her.”
    David came in the room with a full hot water bottle and a cup of warm sweet tea. Mom placed the water bottle on Lila’s back. “Lila, you need to take a sip of this.” She held the cup to her mouth and Lila drank a little. The shivering subsided.
    Mom gave Lila a warm bath, dressed her in one of Annie’s cozy flannel nightgowns, and tucked her into Annie’s bed. Then she came up with a tray of hot buttery toast, two boiled eggs, and warm milk. Annie sat at the end of the bed and kept Lila company while she ate, but soon Lila’s eyes closed and she was asleep.
    At the supper table, Annie retold the story to her father in between bites of corned beef hash, green tomato chow-chow, and cornbread. Dad listened carefully and nodded, sometimes glancing at Mom for confirmation of the facts.
    â€œSo I yelled ‘Don’t! You’re hurting her!’ but I don’t think that was wrong because I was sticking up for an injustice being done to my friend. Lila was being abused.”
    Everyone stopped eating to look at her.
    â€œIsn’t that right, Dad?”
    â€œThat’s right.”
    â€œMiss Coombs should’ve told the principal that Lila ran out of the building,” David said.
    â€œYeah,” Annie said, “she came back in and pretended nothing was wrong.”
    Mom sighed. “I feel so guilty that I wasn’t home. I went to Muriel’s for twenty minutes. Why didn’t she just open the door and walk in? It wasn’t locked. I should’ve told her that. And God only knows how long she knocked at Bertha’s door before she gave up.”
    Dad didn’t say much after that, but Annie heard her parents talking in the bedroom while she was brushing her teeth, and after she slipped into bed beside the sleeping Lila, she heard their low mumbling until she closed her eyes and drifted off.
    The next morning Lila stayed in bed. Mom said she wasn’t ready to go back to school.
    â€œYou’re lucky,” Annie grumbled as she got dressed. Lila didn’t say anything, as if she had no energy to speak. Going out the door, Annie turned back. “I’ll see you later, okay?”
    â€œOkay.” Lila turned her head to the wall.
    Annie and David were in the playground waiting for the bell to ring when they saw their father walk up the road towards the school. They couldn’t believe their eyes. Their father was missing work.
    He walked by and gave them a quick nod but didn’t speak to them. All the rest of the kids looked at him too. It wasn’t often that a parent came to school, unless it was for a concert or grading day.
    David whistled under his breath. “Miss Doom is going to be in big trouble.”
    Annie and David never did find out what Dad said to the principal or Miss Coombs, and they knew better than to ask him. All Annie knew was that when Miss Coombs walked into the classroom, she looked as white as a sheet, and she steadfastly refused to look Annie in the eye. Annie knew her father was a quiet man who never lost his temper, so she wouldn’t have been a victim of a tongue-lashing, but whatever he said did the trick. Annie never had a problem with Miss Coombs after that.
    When Annie and David got home from school, Mom asked David to chop some kindling. While he was doing that, Mom beckoned Annie. She thought they were going to see how Lila was, but Mom directed her into her bedroom instead.
    â€œSit on the bed, please. I have something to tell you.”
    â€œIs Lila okay?”
    Mom sat down beside her. “Lila is sick. Not in a physical way, like a cold or the

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