As soon as they got to the porch, Maw Maw stepped out and welcomed the girls. She told them to take their muddy shoes off, handed them both towels and ushered them to the bathroom that she had heated with an electric space heater. The rest of the house seemed chilly except around the small wood stove area in the front room. It was a blessing that the servant house that she lives in had been updated with modern amenities so many years ago in case Maw Maw actually ever decided to use the central heat, though she was partial to the wood stoves.
After the girls had changed and finished warming up, they went out to the tiny table in the kitchen where Maw Maw had served up her best stew and rolls. There was nothing better than a home cooked meal after being drenched by the rain and sucked into the mud.
During the meal, Maw Maw barely said anything to the girls. She knew she wanted to feel the energy and see how far into depression Amanda had gone. The only way to do that was to listen and key into her granddaughter’s mood. After the meal was finished and the girls had cleaned up, Liz announced that she was going to go to the spare room that was opposite Amanda’s old room, and take a nap leaving Amanda and Maw Maw in the front room by the warmth of the wood stove.
“You’ve been practicing haven’t you?” Maw Maw asked.
Amanda just looked at her.
“Girl, you can’t hide things from me. I taught you,” she said.
“Maw Maw…I haven’t done anything. I have thought about doing things, but my thoughts aren’t strong enough to manifest energy. They aren’t even strong enough to get me off the couch some days,” Amanda said then broke into tears that of course lead to heavy sobbing.
Amanda’s body shook with such force, that her grandmother knew she had been holding back the emotion for weeks. She also knew that it was time for Amanda to go through her fit of emotions just as she had when she was a child.
“No better time than the present,” Maw Maw said, patting Amanda’s knee.
“He left me, Maw Maw. He cheated on me, I let him come back, and he left. He completely took advantage of my trust, he took advantage of my need to try to trust him again, he…he…he’s a complete and utter asshole!” Amanda huffed, then looked at Maw Maw wide eyed as she realized she had never uttered a swear word in front of her.
“Go on Child, let it out,” Maw Maw said, “Did you stop to wonder that perhaps he didn’t leave you?”
“Then where is he?! I have checked everywhere! I called his friends, I checked work, I called every hospital in the area, and the police are no help, they don’t care,” Amanda sighed.
As Amanda began sobbing again, Maw Maw reached for her hands to calm her.
“Amanda. Look at me,” she said.
Amanda looked up and into her grandmother’s eyes. Her eyes were so kind, yet the had seen feast and famine, war and peace. Her eyes were the calm that Amanda couldn’t find within herself.
“What have you done with the doll?” Maw Maw asked.
Amanda pulled back slightly, but her grandmother kept a firm grip. She began sobbing heavily once again and Maw Maw pulled her granddaughter into her arms as the fire in the stove popped and hissed.
When morning came, there was a cool breeze through the little house and Liz found Maw Maw in the kitchen making breakfast. She was humming softly and preparing what looked to be a feast for at least six men, though it was only herself and Amanda on the property.
“Good morning, Maw Maw,” Liz said quietly so as not to startle her.
“Good morning, My Dear. Come, have a seat. Would you like some tea or juice?” Maw Maw asked.
“I don’t suppose you have coffee,” Liz asked.
“Yes, of course Dear. I may be old, but I’ve still got all the fixin’s for company,” Maw Maw said with a smile.
“Is Amanda still sleeping?” Liz asked.
“Seems to be, the poor girl was all worn out by the time she cried herself to sleep last night. Here’s your coffee, Honey.” Maw Maw set down a cup of fresh brewed coffee from a tiny little coffee maker, and sat in the chair next to Liz.
“Now, Miss Liz, tell me what you know about what is going on with my Amanda. You must have left something out of our phone conversations,” Maw Maw said with a smile.
“I’ve told you everything I know. I barely see Amanda at this point. She has shut everyone out since Jack disappeared. When she doesn’t answer my calls or texts, I drive by to make sure the place hasn’t gone up in flames, then I usually give her a day before I pop in and check on her. It’s a good thing she gave me a key or she may just be laying there rotting,” Liz said.
“And she’s weird, Maw Maw. Sometimes I find her just chatting to herself but I can’t tell what she is saying because it’s so hushed. I have tried, but it’s like she is talking in another language, like when babies talk to each other only more structured. I feel like she is regressing into herself and I don’t know what to do. Some days she is angry and yelling, others she is sobbing.”
“She stopped driving around looking for Jack. She stopped calling people. She hasn’t even responded to the phone calls from the police. They probably figure he came home. I didn’t know what else to do but to bring her here and hope she came back to us.”
“Jack is gone and she just needs to let it go no matter what happened…. I’m sorry. I’m rambling,” Liz finished.
“No no, it’s ok. We can’t figure out how to get her back unless I know what she has been doing to herself in her head. You sure you don’t know what the mumbling’s about that you heard?” Maw Maw asked.
“No, I have even put my ear to her mouth and I cannot for the life of me figure it out, Maw Maw. I tried,” Liz said concerned.
Just then Amanda came out of her bedroom and pulled up a chair at the table.
“You tried what?” she said.
“Tried waking you up,” Liz lied, “Thought you were dead!”
The girls looked at each other and giggled. It was the first sign of the real Amanda since Jack disappeared.
“So what kind of trouble are you girls going to get into today?” Maw Maw asked as she served them a breakfast of eggs, bacon, toast, and fruit.
“Well, I suppose we need to get my car out of the road down the way,” Liz said.
“No no, I will have that taken care of. As a matter of fact, I already called someone. Local boy with a wrecker. He’ll get it up and running and back to you later this morn. You girls should go explore the property like you used to. This land sure has changed since you last saw it. Nature has it’s ways,” Maw Maw said.
“Yes she does,” Amanda said, “Nature has it’s ways.”