I was sick and tired of being bossed around. “I’m fine. I’ve done nothing but rest the last two days. Doggone it; I’m tired of these four walls.”
Jude, looking almost as stubborn as I’d ever seen him said, “Mom and Dad say one more day. You want me to get Rochelle up here?”
“Aw go ahead. She’ll just tell you that I might not be fit to bale hay but that me getting out of bed isn’t going to cause the world to end. I’ve … got … things … to … do.”
“Listen hard head, I’ll sit on you if I have to … better yet, tie you down to the bed frame. You are gonna stay in that bed.”
I was really tempted to turn on the waterworks but I had my pride and would not stoop to using Wendalene or Faith’s tactics to get what I wanted. “You just don’t understand.”
“I do understand and better than you likely want to believe. Look, I know you didn’t appreciate Rochelle’s bedside manner yesterday but even she says you are working on a hard row to hoe if you don’t take better care of yourself. She said and I quote, ‘you are just lucky you are young and healthy to start with or you could have wound up with pneumonia’ end quote.”
I told him, “But I didn’t.”
“But you could have,” he told me right back. “And still might if you push yourself into a relapse. Why is it so much skin off your nose to take one more day in bed?!”
“Because!” I hadn’t meant to shout so I stopped myself, took a breath, and then started again only this time doing my best not to sound like a screeching banshee. “Because it is the end of the second week of November and I am losing time. I’ve got to get the rest of the acorns and chinkapins before the animals do. I’ve got day lily roots to dig up. I’ve got sunchokes to deal with and mark off before all the above ground parts disappear and I forget where the patches are. I need to bring in mints and get them dried … assuming the frost hasn’t destroyed them all. I need to dig some sassafras roots. I need to get the prickly pear fruits before they all disappear … Paulie told me this morning that one patch that I had been counting on has already been stripped by something. I need to go see if there are any more persimmons.” Adding to the list in my head I said, “Oh, how could I forget?! The mushrooms … I need to see if the chanterelles, oyster ‘shrooms, and Judas’ ear ‘shrooms are still worth gathering or if the frost got all of them too. Hickory nuts … we didn’t …”
“Stop Dovie, your list making is giving me the fidgets now too.” He shook his head and sat down on the edge of the bed. “Look, I know. I understand. How do you think I felt when that stupid hog laid into me? And I bet you are feeling pretty crappy still, just trying to convince yourself that once you get up and in motion it will be ok.” Since that was pretty much what I had been thinking I ignored his blasted perception. “Even if you get up you aren’t going outside today. It’s cool and damp.”
“Then why are the kids out in it?!”
“They aren’t out in it. They are down at the house giving Mom and Aunt Twila some help. Mom likes them to help because it shames the rest of them into working better. And I’ve got work to do too but I can’t go do it if you won’t mind.”
“I’m not two years old Jude.”
“Then stop acting like it and cooperate.”
“Go … away. Now.” I growled at him.
He knew he’d plucked my last nerve and whether deserved or not had not just made me madder than I already was but had managed to hurt my feelings as well. I already felt bad enough and useless, he’d just heaped coals on my head; however, it didn’t cause him to back down. “For once will you just admit that you need someone to look after you? You’re only sixteen for gosh sakes!”
“You just don’t know when to leave a person alone do you?” At the mulish look on his face I told him, “I’ve already admitted six ways from Sunday that I needed help and that I appreciate all that you do, not just for me and the kids but your place here in the family. I let you boss me even and that ought to tell you something right there. You don’t need to rub it in like salt in a paper cut. Have my feet hit the floor yet? No they have not. And for your information I’m seventeen.”
“You are not. I know for a fact that you are sixteen and you even admitted it.”
“Then you better check your facts ‘cause my birthday was October 31st the same as it has been since I was born. We used to go to the harvest festival for my birthday when we were here in town. One of the best presents I ever got was that year I managed to drop Clewis in the dunk tank with only one baseball.”
He opened his mouth but not a sound came out until he muttered, “Dang. You’re right.”
I rolled my eyes. “Duh. I kinda know my own date of birth you know.”
Getting riled up again he asked, “Then why didn’t you say anything?”
“What’s to say? It’s a day.”
“But what? It’s just another day and I don’t want to talk about it. Just go off and do whatever is so necessary and leave me the heck alone.”
I turned away from him and ignored him. He was silent for a moment before saying, “You better not get out of that bed. I’ll know if you do.”
“Whatever,” I responded carelessly because he’d touched a sore spot in more than one way.
He was angry enough that I expected the front door to slam but it didn’t. I did spot him when he tried to sneak a peek through the bedroom window without me seeing him. I pretended I didn’t notice but it was hard not to laugh when he tripped over the foundation wall and almost fell. Served him right for not taking me at my word.
I know I was being a brat, but you know what? Right then I didn’t care. I hate being bossed like that and I hated feeling useless and I hated getting further behind in my work and I hated that people didn’t think I had two brain cells to rub together. I wasn’t planning on running nekked through the woods; I just wanted to get out of bed.