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A Ragged Bunch and A Motley Crew

by Echo Lewis

illustrated by Elaine Blier

A serialized story for the summer of 2003

Chapter Two

Two months earlier, Laura hadn't even known Uncle Don - or Aunt Amelia, or her five cousins; Tony and Andy, Christine, Jennifer and Davey.

It had been a stunning experience to meet them all and entirely overwhelming to be living with them.

In the first few weeks after her arrival (and sometimes still) she wanted to crawl under her bed and hide whenever she heard one of them bounding down the hall toward her room.

"We're a ragged bunch and a motley crew, aren't we?" Uncle Don mused humorously when first introducing them all to her, "But, we're a harmless lot; and you needn't be afraid of us."

Laura hadn't felt reassured by his words. Why should she believe they were harmless? Why should she not be afraid of them?

Nothing in her ten years of experience gave her any reason to believe what people told her, or to trust them. Other people were the enemy and Laura had learned very early to keep them at a distance.

She still remembered the day long ago when she discovered how.

When she was little, Laura lived with her mother, her grandparents and sometimes her father in her grandparents' house at the edge of the desert.

One day the constant arguing of the grownups around her drove her from the house out to the back porch. The anger and yelling filled up all the space inside. There was no room for her in there, even though she was only three and not very big.

Wandering down the back steps, she reached the ground and searched for a safe, quiet place. There was nothing but the flat, wide-open desert. Where could she go?

Turning back toward the house, she saw a little space under the porch near the steps, where some boards had fallen away.

Laura crawled through the small opening just big enough for a three-year old then squiggled around to sit looking out at the desert.

Her little space was dark and cozy, yet she could see forever across the bright sunlit desert sands. Her view ran right out to the miniature wall of mountains off in the distance.

The thought of sitting in such a tiny place, yet being able to see so much, captured Laura's whole imagination. She sat for a long time caught up in the wonder of it.

The faint sound of her mother's voice, then her grandfather's eventually broke into Laura's quiet, wonderful world. They were calling her name.

Startled, Laura realized she had been hearing their voices for some time, but hadn't really been hearing them at all.

A new fascination! She was sitting right under her mother and grandfather's feet and they didn't even know it.

As she concentrated on this new wonder, their voices called again. This time, she heard anger in them. It made her afraid to move; so she continued to sit very still.

Then she heard something different in her mother's voice - the sound of fear and she knew she had to show herself.

It didn't matter, though. She had discovered a wonderful world. A world she could visit any time where, if she didn't want them to, yelling, arguing grownups didn't even exist.

The triumph tasted sweet; and the spanking hardly touched her.

Read Chapter One again.

Read Chapter Three next.

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