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Walk About, Chapter Five


Darlene Franklin-Campbell's new novel, Walk About, is being posted online chapter-by-chapter, for people to read for free. Previous Chapter: Walk About, Chapter Four, or start at the beginning: Walk About: Chapter One.

Chapter Five

By Darlene Franklin-Campbell

Pinky led the way through waist high weeds, pushing briars back and proceeding forward. She broke a stem off a briar, one of Nanna's rambling roses from long ago. Her sisters followed, using the weeds she mashed down as a path.

They passed the dilapidated home that sat, akin to a wooden ghost, whose broken windows stared at the abandoned property like hollow, malnourished eyes to where a raised concrete platform sat some twenty yards behind the house. Ivy crawled up over its edges and sumac saplings stubbornly pushed their way through the cracked foundation.

The old cement platform had been there since they could remember. No one seemed to know what its original purpose had been, a patio or a gazebo or some building that long-ago tenants had started but never finished. Regardless of its origin, for a while, it had been a myriad of things for the sisters.


It had been a stage upon which they acted out plays when they visited Nanna in the summers. It had been a fancy patio upon which they drug empty electrical spools for tables and used aluminum lawn chairs for furniture. It had been a space ship and a hundred other things, but the last thing it had been was the scared ground where they made the pact.

The faint outline of a faded red circle still remained. The Davis sisters climbed onto the platform and removed their shoes. Each girl had a rose tattooed on her right foot. It had all been part of the pact. At the age of eighteen, each girl had received the identifying mark of the Davis family.

"This is where it all began," Pinky said, remembering the night twenty some years ago when she was eighteen that the four of them stood inside that very circle, then freshly painted with bright red spray paint and made a vow to each other, "we have come to a crisis that brings us together in the same way that our parents' accident brought us together and to commemorate that we must perform the sacrificial ritual."

A sudden swell of emotion rose up within Pinky, by the time she went to college, she had lost both parents and her beloved Nanna, but it was during her graduate program that she lost the only boy she had ever loved, Ramon. She had met him in Spain when she went there to study and now, back here, reminiscing, honoring the pact with her sisters, she remembered another pact. One she would never get to honor.

She thought of how the death of her beloved Ramon had not been cause enough to bring them back here, nor had Ace's divorce nor the factory explosion that may or may not have been Clyde's fault. No, only Rosie could do something so drastic as to evoke the pact.

"Upon the lives of all our ancestors and descendants, we four sisters," Pinky began. She pricked her finger on a thorn then passed the stick of thorns to Ace.

"Bound by honor and by blood," Ace said, taking the thorn and pricking her finger, "in the face of immense crisis." She passed the thorns to Clyde.

"To walk away from our lives and dreams," Clyde said without stuttering as she pricked her finger. "To do whatever it takes." She passed the thorns to Rosie.

"All for the sake of each," Rosie added then pricked her finger.

Rosie took the thorny stick and laid it in the center of the circle.

Pinky pulled a library card from her pocket and laid it down beside the thorns. She sighed.

"A library card? Really?" Ace said.

"It's valuable to me," Pinky replied.

Ace took a cigarette, tore it apart and spread tobacco all over the briar and card then placed the white wrapper on the little pile.

Cylde reached into her pocket and produced a handful of jelly beans which she added.

"Jelly beans?" Ace and Pinky said at once.

Clyde shrugged. "I love c..candy."

"Your turn, Rosie," Ace said.

"I already made a sacrifice. James Allen."

"Not the same," Pinky said. "You have to offer something that fits on the pile."

"Credit card," Ace said. "Get rid of a stupid credit card."

"Ah...ah..." Rosie moaned. "Not the...."

"You can't use it anyway now," Pinky said.

Rosie unzipped her purse and took out a credit card.

Afterwards, Ace stepped forward with her lighter and set fire to the cigarette paper and library card. The sisters watched the little pile of old life mementos burn.

The girls stood in complete silence as they watched the tiny fire, each recalling the night they had made that pact. Pinky had been eighteen, Ace sixteen, Clyde thirteen and Rosie, a mere eleven. They had written it together, words of four innocent youths who had lost their parents in a horrible accident, words of four sisters who understood that all they really had was each other. Somehow years and miles had separated them and each had gravitated toward a different life, but none of them had forgotten.

"What now?" Rosie asked.

The elder sister looked up as if she were studying the tree tops for an answer. "We head south and as we go, we shed the stuff we took from James Allen's car, leaving no two things in the same place."

"We need to keep the hub caps," Clyde said.

"Why?" Ace asked.

"Y...you'll see," Clyde said. "Trust me."

"All right," Pink said. "If Clyde says we need hub caps then we need the hub caps. Ace, you and Rosie follow me and Clyde. I know some folks who can help us. Now, let's go."

"Where are we going?" asked Rosie.

"Alabama," Pinky said.

"Why Alabama?" Ace asked.

"Because," Pinky replied, "we need a new ride."


Darlene Franklin-Campbell, an Adair County native, holds an M.A. from Lindsey Wilson College but has also done post-graduate work in storytelling and literacy at Western Kentucky University and is an alumnus of Campbellsville University. She is a member of the Elizabeth Maddox Roberts Society, the Adair County Arts Council, The Adair County Genealogical Society, The Green County Genealogical Society, Phi Theta Kappa, and the Mysterium Society (an IQ society for linguists). She has attended the Appalachian Writers Workshop, WisCOn, and Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts. She currently teaches Art at the Adair County Primary Center. You may visit her webpage at https://www.dardet.com or her writer's blog at https://whisperingwind.blog to check out more of her work.


This story was posted on 2021-12-21 18:06:40
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