“Ralph! Go get me another beer,” Papa barked.
Mama was working overtime again and Edwina was sorry she had missed her communicants' class because Papa was too hung over to take them to church. “Now old Lisa Hawkins will probably sit next to Jonas and he’ll start liking her better than me,” she thought.
“I can’t,” said Ralph.
“What do you mean you can’t. Take your little narrow behind on in the kitchen and get me another beer.”
“You already drank the last one.”
“No, I didn’t. There’s more in the pantry. Go get me one.”
“I just brought you the last one a few minutes ago…”
“Now see here young man…”
“Don’t see why you have to drink so much anyway,” Ralph muttered.
“Ralph!” cried Edwina, trying to keep her brother from provoking Papa’s temper. But it was too late.
“Are you trying to sass me?” said Papa, rising unsteadily to his feet.
“My real daddy didn’t get drunk all the time.”
Papa lurched towards Ralph but Edwina said “Don’t hit him, Papa, he’s just a little kid. He doesn’t know what he’s saying.”
“Do to,” said Ralph “Our real daddy wasn’t a lush.”
Papa roared and lurched toward Ralph, but Edwina jumped up to protect her brother. Papa’s fist connected with her jaw.
She reeled and fell awkwardly, her head glancing the corner of the marble coffee table.
She saw a blinding flash of violet light, then everything went dark…
“Come on in Miss Reaves, your name is right here in the book,” said a genial man.
“He looks like he’s going to a masquerade party,” Edwina thought, but she kept her opinion to herself, figuring she was in a dream.
“Right this way, Miss Reaves,” said the man in the funny costume. Edwina could hear beautiful music so she headed in the direction he indicated.
Inside there were more people in gleaming white garments. And they all had wings.
“I wonder if they can fly,” thought Edwina. She liked dreams about flying because so far she had never even been on an airplane. Then it occurred to her that the winged people were supposed to be angels. They were certainly making a joyful noise.
Some strummed harps and lutes.
Some blew horns.
And the littlest one was playing a drum. The beautiful music filled Edwina with a sense of peace and joy that she hadn’t felt in longer than she could remember.
“Come here, child,” said a regal woman seated on high.
Edwina mounted the steps and approached the radiant being.
When she reached the throne,
the woman embraced her and cradled Edwina on her lap even though Mama said Edwina was too big for such foolishness.
“There, there child. Unburden all your sorrows.”
Edwina sobbed onto her shoulder for a long while, then the woman dried her tears and gazed earnestly into her eyes.
“Would you like to stay with us? There is no pain or strife here.”
“Mama will wake me in a few minutes and I’ll have to get ready for school,” Edwina thought. “There was only one apple when I looked last night so I guess I’ll give it to Ralph. Or maybe I’ll take the apple and give him the money Mrs. Thomas paid me for feeding her cat last week so he can get a Nutty Buddy. He would like that…”
“Welcome home, my child. You don’t ever have to go back,” said the Most High.
“But who will look out for Ralph if I’m not there?”
“Edwina! Can you hear me?” said Ralph. After a moment Edwina’s eyes fluttered open.
“Is it time for school yet?”
“Oh Edwina, I thought you were dead!” said Ralph, giving her a warm squeeze.
“Stop playing girl. I ain’t hit you that hard. It was a accident,” said Papa. But Edwina could still hear the beautiful music and the melifluous voice of the Most High murmuring “remember I am with you always…”