Dee stood sideways, her bat held higher than most, and she glared at the pitcher. She loved the way she felt while playing baseball and she especially liked hearing "here comes slugger Tolliver." She was the only girl who'd play with the boys...sometimes they'd hit her with the ball on purpose, but she didn't care. She could play as well as any of em and loved watching them squirm when it was her turn to hit. She played center field cause she ran like the wind and could catch just about any hit.
On the second pitch, she eyed the ball and then "CRACK"...it was flying and she was running like hell. It wasn't unusual for her to get a couple of home runs in before she had to head home. It was Wednesday, and Reverend Fitch would always bring some soup and bread by before heading to church. Her mom also rented the house from the Fitches and would often do chores for them if the rent couldn't be paid in full each week.
Feeling elated, Dee ran the mile home and quickly straightened up the tiny living quarters. She made Lydia's bed, and folded up the bedrolls for her brother and sister. Her mom had been able to return to work the week before...it had been a long winter.
"Hello DeLores, are you here all alone?" Startled, Dee looked up to see the preacher standing in the house..."yes, but my brother and sister will be along shortly." He walked slowly over to the kitchen counter to place the soup and bread down. Giraffe...that's what he looks like, Dee thought to herself. He sat down on one of two chairs in the sparsley furnished house and asked if she would join him in prayer...he grabbed her arm and pulled her next to him. She closed her eyes, hoping this would be one of those quick talks to God. She felt his cold, clammy hand slide up under the back of her shirt and before she could move he had pulled her down in front of him. She knelt in horror as he began to unbotton his pants...she struggled to get up but he kept his left hand firmly on her shoulder...pushing her tight to the floor. "You know DeLores, your mamma needs this house, and this food. I am important to her..and to you kids". Dee began to shake...fear gripped her entire body.
"Deeee Deeee", she heard her brother Glen yelling as he piled through the front door. Reverend Fitch knocked her over as he scrambled to his feet. Her little brother bounced through the room, his big brown eyes all sparkly and such. "Did you fall down? You hurt Dee Dee?" He then looked up at the preacher, and then back at his sister. Dee pulled herself up and assured Glen that she was okay. Fitch mumbled something about getting to the church and was out the door.
Lydia got home from work about 5:30...it was dark. The one bulb hanging above the sink was the only light for two rooms. She put the pot of soup on the heater and began to pull the bread apart. Dee walked into the small kitchen to help her mother. "Were you here when the preacher stopped by?" Dee shook her head yes. "Well, thank the good Lord for those Fitches. I don't know what we'd do without their help. I get down on my knees every night and give thanks". Dee just nodded in agreement and ladeled the soup into 4 tin cups.
She thought to herself, I am gonna have to learn to make soup.