By Lorry Myers
My grandmother’s story began with her great grandfather, an unconventional son that defied his mother’s wishes and left life in the city to venture into the wild West. In Missouri, Papa stopped
long enough to fall in love and put all he had on a little plot of land. The home he built had a crooked door that never fully closed and a yard that was free range for chickens and children, pigs and cows.
Everyone was fed and happy.
A telegram announced his mother’s passing so the prodigal son returned to his city roots. The little sister, the one that he had left behind, had married a man chosen by their parents and now had a daughter of her own. This little city girl was dressed in petticoats and ribbons and Papa couldn’t help but compare her to his own little girl who ran wild with her brothers, hair tangled by the wind. Maybe the girl with perfect manners and picture-perfect appearance would be a good influence for his tomboy daughter. Impulsively, Papa invited his city sister to visit him in the country.
He never thought they would come.
Months later, a letter arrived with travel details for Papa’s sister and her family. Papa had described his sister’s house with heavy doors and brocaded furniture and told his daughter about her cousin, a girl her age with soft blonde hair and soft-spoken manners.
“You can learn something from her,” Papa said.
The train was late and it was late in the night by the time the wagon brought them to the house. Papa carried his sleeping niece into the house and laid the exhausted child in his daughter’s bed. The little girl never woke and the rest of the family bedded down in their assigned spots.
The next day, the sun wasn’t quite up when a blood curdling scream shook everyone out of their covers. The sound was coming from the room where the city cousin was put to bed the night before. The families rushed inside and, in the room they found a wayward cow that had wandered through the front door that never seemed to shut. The animal was quickly shooed out of the bedroom but the child hiding underneath the blankets continued to scream.
The room quieted as the girl’s mother pleaded with her to calm down and come out from under the covers and when she did, it was the mother’s turn to shriek and the rest of the family gasped at the face that stared back.
It the face of a cow.
For the complete column, see this week’s edition of the Centralia Fireside Guard.