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Chasing Dreams and Dragonflies

by Melanie McGehee 11 months ago in family · updated 11 months ago
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Summers were hard, her staying home while he was working.

Photo by christian buehner on Unsplash

“Dragonfly!” she exclaimed. “Daddy, come quick. There’s a dragonfly.”

But he was consumed with work. It was a muggy late afternoon, the worst time of day to be working in a backyard garage. Cars don’t just break down in fall and winter, he always told his wife, and if I don’t fix them, well someone else’s gonna get their money.

When he stopped to take a water break, she’d moved on to looking for four leaf clovers, sitting cross-legged smack in the middle of the marigolds her mama had planted the first day of summer break. “Did it fly away?” he asked.

“Yep. It done flew away.” She mumbled, still hunched over searching for something he knew wasn’t there.

Billy Southfield wanted to say you look me in the eye when you talk to me, young lady. But she looked so small. Her hair was now sun bleached, the same color as the crushed blooms around her.

“They’ll do that," was all he said.

“You don’t believe me.”

“Yeah, baby, I do. Maybe it’ll come back.”

“You don’t believe me. You never do.” She turned her head to him and he saw her mama’s eyes, lasers coming right for him.

Wasn’t no use to argue. Hell, she was half right. He dried his forehead with a bandana and stuffed it in his back pocket. “Holler at me if it does.”

“You don’t.” Her accusation continued as he walked back to the garage.

June was eight years old and just finished first grade, for the second time. Her teachers had tried three times to get them, Billy and Sam, short for Samantha, to place her in a special school. But her mama Sam was a teacher herself and insisted their daughter be kept at the regular elementary.

Summers were hard, with Sam teaching two summer sessions at the high school to earn extra money. June stayed home with Billy those days. At night around the supper table, June would let Sam know everything they'd done. Lately she talked mostly about what they hadn't done.

Tonight was no different. “I tried to show Daddy a dragonfly but he wouldn’t come.” Her words came out like an auctioneer's, luring you in but leaving you confused if you weren't concentrating. June could sit still like no kid he’d ever seen, but she had a tongue on her that rarely stopped, especially if someone was listening.

And Sam was listening. To every word. While clearing the dishes. How she could keep up was beyond Billy. She was such a good mom.

Billy was ready to get to his recliner and settle in for the night. “Yep, I missed the booger,” he said as he was getting up from the table. “I missed him.”

“Wasn’t no booger,” piped June. “And it was a girl.”

“You don’t say?” Billy put his plate in the dishwasher. “Well, I’m gonna just tell you, June Bug, when I was your age, dragons was all boys.”

“They’s still all boys. I know that, daddy.”

Sam interrupted. “You get your money for that blue Chevy yet?”

“Nah,” Billy drug the word out, hoping he’d be out of the kitchen before she continued.

“I really, really need us to go on a vacation, Billy.”

Nope. He was caught. Sam stood in his path with her hands folded in front of her.

“Just a little short one,” she continued. “Three days. All I’m asking. Summer school’s ‘bout over and I’ll have two weeks. Two weeks we could do something. Something fun. As a family.”

“Ah, Sam. You know I like to keep shop open. Gonna be those fresh high schoolers. First time drivers. Gonna need my help with their old used cars they bought with grandpa’s money. You know I like that income. I like certainty.”

“Fuck certainty.” Sam wasn’t giving up or giving in. Especially since June had left the room.

Billy sat back down at the table and rested his elbows on it. He couldn’t look at her. Bent over, his head resting in his palms, he stared at the table and drew in a deep breath before starting his defense.

“I’m trying to do good by y’all. Both of you. And I feel like you both think I can give you more than there really is. Hell, June Bug thinks she saw a dragon today. Eight years old and still telling me to come see her dragon.”

“Dragonfly,” Sam corrected.

“What?”

“Dragonfly. They’re real. Bugs.”

“Aw, darn.” Billy laid his head over, all the way on the table.

“You don’t give her credit. She’s smart.”

“I ain’t got time to go chasing her gosh darned dragonflies. I got cars to fix.” He mumbled into the table, half thinking she wouldn’t hear him.

But she had. “Get that money Mr. Cottle owes you for fixing that blue Chevy.”

He was caught. He’d circled right back around to her first argument. Dragging his head up to face her, he reached for an apology. “Think she’ll forgive me? Later in life. When she’s old. Think June Bug’ll forgive me?”

It looked like Sam might nod her head, but June’s voice broke into the kitchen. Billy didn't catch what she said at first.

Sam took the dish towel and whipped it hard towards Billy's back as he was standing up to go find June. "I don't think she's your problem." She laughed.

“Lightening bugs, Daddy!" June ran to meet him. "In the backyard. Come quick.”

Image by Rondell Melling from Pixabay

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About the author

Melanie McGehee

I write to feel alive and to heal. Sometimes, the stories I weave are true.

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