Uncle Lincoln sat on the porch of his cabin carving a piece of wood. He had his glasses on the end of his nose and an intense gaze in his brown eyes. In his right hand he held what he called his wood knife; it was sharp and many a time he nigh took his thumb off. The wood was slowly revealing whatever it was Uncle Lincoln had in mind, but it had some way to go before it gave up its last secrets.
Eve Forebear stood by a fence staring at him. She was about fourteen with black hair set loose over her shoulders, and a pair of dark-blue eyes that blinked too often. She watched him hold the knife and wood and move the one against the other as if in some dance or love-making. Then he stopped and held the piece of wood up to the light and turned it around. He brushed off some dust and wood chips. Eve moved away from the fence and began walking towards the cabin with the slight limp she'd got as a child when she fell off a horse.
"What you doing, here, Eve?" Uncle Lincoln said, lifting eyes from the wood and taking in her limping frame as she came closer.
"I'm looking for Adam. Have you seen him?" she said, pausing just in front of the porch.
"Last I see him he was up by the barn," Uncle Lincoln replied, brushing his bearded chin with a finger of the hand that held the knife. "Sorting out the bales of hay and such." He looked at Eve's eyes blinking, and then downwards at her lips that were parted, as if she were about to say something, but didn't. "What yer want him for?" Eve blinked some more.
"Need to ask him something," Eve said. Her hands came together and she held them over her stomach as if she were about to say grace. She looked at Uncle Lincoln's hands and the piece of wood. "Not important if he's busy," she said, blinking quicker.
"You'll have to ask him that," Uncle Lincoln said. He held up the piece of wood to her. "What yer think on it?" he asked, moving it around in his hand.
"What is it?" Eve asked, stepping back a few paces from the porch.
"Be a bird when it's done," he said. "Not quite there, yet. Takes time to release it from the wood what you have in yer mind."
He stared at Eve over the wood, setting his brown eyes on her figure, covered by the black and fawn pinafore dress, at the way she stood, her hair over her shoulders and the parting lips, which seemed to be waiting for words to form.
"What kinda bird?" Eve inquired disinterestedly.
"Mockingbird. Well that's what I had in mind, of course." Uncle Lincoln touched the wood with his knife and tapped it a few times. "What I've in mind and what comes out might be a different thing of course," he laughed loudly and rocked back and forward in his rocking chair, holding the knife and wood close to his chest. He slowed the chair and looked at Eve. "What yer think of it so far?"
"Looks good," Eve muttered and blinked. She looked at Uncle Lincoln's face; at his brown eyes, that never seemed to stop gazing at her, at the way the top lip was clean shaven, and the lower part on his chin and under was covered in hair as if a beaver was resting there.
"Well, you best go find that boy of mine if you need him," Uncle Lincoln said, putting the knife to work again and moving his eyes onto the wood and not Eve. "And tell him not to be long; I've got a chore here for him to do after." Eve nodded, blinked, and wandered off away from the porch. Uncle Lincoln's eyes followed her as if they hunting dogs out for some prey; they watched as she climbed the fence, lifting her pinafore; and they squinted, as a few inches of flesh showed above black stockings, and then lowered themselves to the wood once she was out of sight with a sigh eased out from his clean shaven lips.
Eve approached the barn and stopped at the large double doors. "Adam, you in there?" she bellowed. A muffled voice sounded, but made no sense. "Can't hear what yer saying," Eve said.
A door opened and Adam poked his head out. He was fifteen, tall, thin with deep brown eyes and brown hair hanging about his ears and neck. "Oh, it's you," he said. "Thought was it Pa calling me."
"No, it was me. Just seen your daddy up on the porch." She blinked at him, parted her lips, and waited.
"Is he still mucking about with that darn wood and knife?" Adam said.
Eve nodded, blinked, and moved closer to the door. "What yer doing?"
"Sorting out the bales," Adam replied. "You wanna come look?"
Eve stood and looked at the barn and then back towards the fields. She sensed Adam's hand touch her arm and turned. "Why does he waste his time with that wood and knife?" Eve said, looking at Adam's hand on her arm.
Adam moved his hand to brush her cheek." Lord knows and He ain't telling me," Adam said. He paused. His eyes gazed over Eve's features and her deep-blue eyes, blinking nervously and her lips just slightly open, but wordless.
She moved with him into the dim light of the barn and he closed the door behind them. Light came down through a few places where old glass had been placed. Dust, and hay floated around like tiny planets in the vast galaxy of the barn's interior, and warm, sticky air entered her nostrils which made her feel hot and faint in her pinafore. She stood looking around the barn, her hands held tight in front of her and her eyes blinking at all she saw.
"Quiet in here," Adam drawled, shyly.
"Are there mice in here?" she asked.
"Sure, rats too, I expect," he said, looking at Eve, wanting to touch her cheek again, but holding back.
"Rats?" Eve murmured, bringing her hands to her lips and holding them there, as if a rat might jump at her and bite her face.
"Not that I've seen any rats mind yer," he added, moving closer to her, feeling her nervousness almost touch him.
"Ought I to be here?" she said softly, gazing at Adam with a mixture of anxiousness and admiration.
"You ain't gotta stay. You can go any time you want to," he said, hoping she wouldn't, wishing she'd relax and sit down on a bale.
"You ought not to have touched my cheek just now," Eve said, blinking her eyes nervously, putting her hands behind her back, and then bringing them in front of her again.
"Didn't mean nothing by it," he said. "Leastways, not if you don't want it to."
"Daddy sent me to ask if you'd help him sometime with some fencing." Eve said. She looked around at the hay bales and sat on the nearest. Adam sat next to her and looked at his hands.
"Is that all you came for?" Adam asked.
"Not to see Uncle Lincoln that's for sure," Eve said, feeling a tightness form in her stomach. She looked at Adam's hands resting on his knees, at the calluses and dirt that tainted them slightly. The fingers were long and thin; the bare arms had hairs from wrist to elbow of a light-brown to fair colour. She could smell the odours of hay and sweat on his shirt, but it didn't displease her, but moved her to speak. "What shall I say to Daddy?"
"I'll come as soon as I can," Adam said, giving her a sideways glance. She smelt of something, he couldn't place it. Like apples, but not apples.
"How's school?" he said, watching her eyes blink.
"Same as usual. Soon be gone," Eve said, brushing her right hand through her hair and sniffing the air and coughing gently. "They still make fun of my limp," she added, putting her hand on her right leg.
"I never did," Adam said.
"They did and still do." Eve sighed. She looked at Adam's face and saw clearness in his features, anxiousness in his eyes, and a sense of pain in his expression. "Miss you not being there." She moved her hand and placed it over Adam's.
The air seemed heavy with dust and heat, and sickly with the scent of hay and apples. The light dimmed; the galaxy of planets twirled around in the fading sun through the glass above and voices softened like sweet music.
Uncle Lincoln walked across the fields to his brother Jackson's farmhouse and knocked at the door. He hid a piece of wood behind his back in one hand.
The door opened and Sissy Forebear stood there, her hair tied up in a bunch on her head and her face flushed. "Lincoln, what can I do for yer?"
"Is Adam here?" he asked, looking at his sister-in-law with a sense of caution.
"No, he's gone off with Jackson to mend fences," Sissy replied. She looked over the fields for a few moments as if to indicate where they were, and then looked back at Lincoln. "You wanna come in a while?"
Lincoln nodded and climbed the steps and entered behind Sissy. The smell of cooking, lavender, and apples swept passed him as he walked around the large parlour room. He heard voices from the kitchen. Female voices. Sounded like Eve and her sister Becky. He walked to the window and peered out at the back at the barn and cattle corral. Sissy stood next to him and parted the faded curtains. She was lean and had a hungry look about her and he smelt a lingering scent on her as she stood there, but didn't know what it was.
"I'm off out in awhile with Becky," Sissy said, "Eve's in the kitchen she'll keep you company, once she's finished her chores."
"You going into town?" Lincoln asked.
"Yeah, Bud Freewright's driving his wife so he said he'd take me and Becky." Sissy let the curtain go and walked away. "Sit down Lincoln, yer making the place untidy standing there," she said. "Anything you need in town?"
"No, don't think there is," he replied, looking at Sissy rushing about the room tidying about like a hen after its chicks. He watched her pause; she pushed her fingers through her hair, as if to put back in place strands of loose hair and poke them back again. He sat down on an armchair, studied Sissy fiddle with her dress, take off her apron, and then go out the room. He smiled and held the piece of wood on his lap. Becky came into the room and looked at Lincoln with her large blue eyes.
"Uncle Lincoln! Didn't know you were here," she said excitedly, brushing herself down, flicking back her head of brown hair, and putting on a smile as if it were lipstick. "You looking for, Daddy?"
"No, I came to see if Adam were here," Lincoln said. "'apparently he's working with your daddy on some fences." He looked at Becky as she stood a few moments with her hands busy about her hair and clothes, and noticed the firm outline of her breast. She was sixteen, taller than her mother was and full-figured.
"We're off out," Becky said. "Eve'll be out in a moment, she's just doing bits that need doing." She smiled again, then turned, and went out to the passageway and she and Sissy were talking softly between themselves.
Lincoln looked at the piece of wood in his hands. Neither of the women had noticed it or commented on it. He turned it around in his hands, looking at it from different angles. He'd finished it; now he felt a mixture of satisfaction and emptiness. He'd brought it for Eve because she was the one who seemed to care for it and what he was doing a few days back.
Eve entered the room wiping her hands on a towel. She stopped and looked at Lincoln; her eyes blinked and her hands rubbed harder on the towel. "Hello, Uncle Lincoln," she said shyly.
"Brought you this," he said, holding up the piece of wood.
Eve walked towards the armchair and stopped just out of reach. "What is it?" she asked, looking at the carved piece of wood in her uncle's hands.
"It's a mockingbird," Lincoln said. "Carved it for you."
"Mockingbird? That's a mocking bird?" she said looking at the carved bird.
"Well, best I can see it," he replied, smiling slightly.
"For me?" she said, her voice soft.
"If you want it," Lincoln said.
"To keep?" Eve stood hesitantly gazing at the carved bird.
"Of course, to keep," he said, pushing it towards her.
Eve put out her hand and brushed her fingers over the smoothness of the wood. She sensed a nervousness grip her stomach. She blinked faster.
"What's that?" Sissy said entering the room with Becky.
Eve moved her hand away and stood back. "It's a mockingbird; Uncle Lincoln carved it."
Sissy took hold of the carving and looked at it. Becky stood beside her and smiled at Lincoln. "You did this?" Sissy asked.
"Yeah, with my knife and a bit of patience." He looked at Sissy's hands moving the bird around. "Thought Eve might like it."
"Oughtn't to give her gifts," Sissy said. "She don't deserve gifts apart from birthdays and Christmas."
"I like it," Becky said, putting her fingers to the bird.
"She showed interest in the making of it," Lincoln said. "Thought she'd like to own it."
Sissy handed back the bird and stared at Eve. "Well, make sure she deserves it first, Lincoln. Don't go spoiling her, now."
"Course, I won't. Be like an early birthday gift," Lincoln said, glancing at Eve who stood blinking at her mother.
The sound of a car's horn broke in to settle the words. "Must go. Get your Uncle Lincoln some coffee, Eve and don't stand around like damned fool with yer mouth open," Sissy said. For a moment she looked at Lincoln and then back at Eve. "Don't let her bore yer with her talk of school, and such. Let her show you the hens we got last week." Sissy gazed about the room, and then moved out off into the passageway with Becky following. The sound of the door closing and the car taking off left Eve and Lincoln
looking at each other in a heavy silence.
Eve had brought Uncle Lincoln coffee in a white cup and stood awkwardly as he drank it. She held the carved bird in her hands, turning it around shyly, feeling the smoothness with her fingers.
"Where yer gonna put it?" Uncle Lincoln said.
"In my bedroom," Eve replied. "Gotta small table there."
"Glad yer like it," he said, holding the cup close to his lips. He sipped the coffee, his eyes watching her hands moving the bird slowly. He lowered his eyes to take in her figure, clothed in a brown dress, that could have been worn in bed or day use or a funeral and bring no distinction to the wearer at all. He sighed softly. He finished the coffee in a slow gulp and offered back the cup.
"Was that all right?" she asked, taking the cup.
"Fine." Uncle Lincoln stood and stretched his arms outward like a crucified man. "You wanna show me where yer gonna put the bird?"
Eve nodded. She took the cup back to the kitchen and then walked down the passageway to the bedroom she shared with Becky. Uncle Lincoln followed down after her at a steady pace. Eve opened the door and laid the carved bird on a small table by her bed. Uncle Lincoln watched by the door.
"Sort of feels at home there don't it," he said.
"I can look at it when I want to," Eve said quietly. She turned and her stomach churned over. He had closed the door and was standing with his back against it. She stood and blinked nervously.
"You're a beautiful girl, Eve," he stated in a soft voice.
"Ma says it's vanity to talk over beauty," Eve responded, holding her hands in front of her, looking at her uncle's eyes, at his simple smile.
"Beauty is a gift of God," Uncle Lincoln replied. "A thing to be praised and shared."
"I'm not beautiful. I'm just ordinary and dull," she said.
"Who told yer that?"
"I've seen myself in the mirror. Ain't no beauty there, Uncle Lincoln." She moved back towards the window. She felt her heart pound in her breast as if it was about to explode and kill her.
"There is beauty there, Eve; you just don't look as other's do."
"Shall I show you the hens daddy bought?" Eve asked.
Lincoln looked at Eve as if he were about to purchase her at some market. He stood rubbing his finger over his jaw. He sensed a feeling rush through him, gushing through his arms, legs, and chest. He lingered over what he saw, what he wanted to feel, and sense, but he moved away from the door and opened it. "Yeah, that'd be fine. See if your hens are better layers than mine are," he said beginning to smile again.
Eve's lips moved to smile and did so in a stiff fashion. She felt sweat fill her pores and run slowly down her back. She felt almost faint with relief, a whiteness floating about her eyes and head. "They're good hens," she said, moving towards the door and then following her uncle into the passageway.
"Well, let's go see," he said. He paused. His heart felt wounded; his passion cheated. He watched her move passed him and followed as she limped slowly in front, her hips moving side to side, in a slow rhythm that seemed to pierce him and wound him with each step she walked.
Eve wanted to run or hide; wanted to hear the sound of the car return or the sound of familiar voices, but there was no sound, except for the hens and the far off sound of cattle, and a slight wind that touched her dress as they walked across the yard to the barn.
Sissy noticed Eve's reluctance to go to the barn for eggs from the hens, she also noticed that Eve dashed off to the outhouse most mornings and was gone longer than usual and when she came back she looked pale as egg-white. She also wondered why the child had not bothered her for rags the last two months for her monthly bleeds as he usually did, but it did not ring any bells, she just put it down to a young woman thing, got on with her daily chores, and moaned as usual.
Eve sat at the table and poked at her bowl with her spoon. Her stomach felt queasy again and her head seemed heavy as if she was carrying extra weight. She looked up at her father who sat at the head of the table; he and Uncle Lincoln were not a bit alike even though they were brothers. She was glad; she could not have sat looking at her daddy every morning, if he had resembled Uncle Lincoln, she thought.
"If yer ain't gonna eat that porridge, then leave it alone. Can't bear poking at things," Sissy, her mother moaned from her place opposite Jackson.
"Not hungry," Eve replied, putting down the spoon.
"Never are these days. Don't know what's go into yer," Sissy said.
"Can't help it if I've lost my appetite," Eve said, crossing her hands over her stomach.
"Don't answer yer Ma back, girl," Jackson said firmly, giving Eve a stare.
"Just saying," Eve said gently.
"Ought not to speak at the table during meals. Told yer often enough," Jackson said, staring at Eve deeper, letting his eyes dare her to reply.
"You're so reluctant to do things these days. Have to chase yer here and there to get things done. Linger by the barn door when I send yer for eggs as if there was some monster hiding in there," Sissy moaned.
"And she's always in the outhouse when I need it," Becky said.
"What yer do out there all that time?" Sissy asked.
"Feeling unwell," Eve muttered, blinking quickly.
"Well, gotta get yerself in order, girl," Jackson said, "can't have yer skipping yer chores. Ain't fair on others to chase after yer. Get yerself in order, "he repeated, looking at Eve with his deep brown eyes. "Don't make me do things I 'm reluctant to do, girl. Laziness is a thing I won't abide. No, sir."
"I don't spend time in the outhouse like she does," Becky said. "What she do there all that time?"
"Just eat up, Becky and mind yer business," Sissy said.
"Just saying," Becky.
"Well, don't," Jackson said. "Keep yer mind on yer porridge and not on what we're saying."
"Yes, Daddy," Becky replied, looking at Eve, giving her a small smile.
Eve looked at her bowl and the motionless spoon. Her stomach was churning; her throat was opening and closing and things seemed to be rising and stopping. She jumped up from the table, ran through to the back door, and off down the path to the outhouse.
"What's go into the girl?" Jackson said, looking at Sissy.
"Have to have a word with her. See if there's something up," Sissy said.
"Get Doc Cassidy see her if yer have to, he owes me a favour," Jackson stated.
"She's just playing her games," Sissy said, looking at the door where Eve had rushed through. "I'd put my hand to her if I suspect she's putting on this nonsense."
Becky stared at her mother; she wanted to say something about Eve, but said nothing. She ate her porridge in silence, but all the time wanting to say what was on her mind, what was churning around there like a mad dog around a backyard. She watched as her mother peered at her father. And he gazing at his bowl returned to his dull silence like a moody hound.
Sissy and Becky were in the kitchen preparing dinner for later. Becky looked up at her mother.
"Eve's acting kinda weird," she said.
"What yer mean weird?" Sissy said, turning her head and looking at her daughter.
"Says things in her sleep."
"What kinda things?" Sissy stopped what she was doing and stood with her back against the sink.
"Murmuring things, sometimes she cries," Becky said, her voice low as if she thought Eve might come in any minute from the garden.
"She having trouble at school yer think?" Sissy asked.
"I don't know," Becky said. She looked around her, and then moved closer to her mother. "I think maybe she might be having things to do with boys."
Sissy stared at Becky. "What yer mean things to do with boys?"
"You know," Becky said, nodding her head, hoping this would indicate the matter for her. "Things."
"She ain't been interested in boys up to now. Never as much as mentions them," Sissy said, scrutinizing Becky face for further information. "She say anything to you?"
"No. Just what I hear when she's asleep." Becky bit her lower lip.
"What's she say?"
"Such as?" Sissy asked, sighing mildly.
"Well, the other night she shouted out, Don't do that; don't touch me there," Becky said, looking at her mother's lined features.
"You think some boy's touched her?
"Don't know what to think. Then she cries." Becky began to peel a potato, looking at her hands.
Sissy turned to the sink and stared out of the window. "I'll have a word with her. Where is she?"
"Was in the barn collecting eggs," Becky said. "Took her ages going in. Watched her standing and staring at the barn door."
"I'll go have a word," Sissy said, wiping her hands on a towel. "Can't have this going on and not knowing what's up." She moved out of the kitchen and walked into the backyard. Becky shrugged her shoulders and peeled another potato.
Eve stood with her back against the barn door. She stared into the dim lit area with the smell of hay, hens and dust. She breathed in deeply. Her stomach was churning and her hands were hard against the wooden door behind her. Her eyes moved over the floor, searching each spot as if she were looking for something lost. She lifted her head and looked at the bales of hay that went as high as the roof in places. She brought her hands to her stomach and rested them there. She closed her eyes, breathed in the smells, and listened intently to the sounds surrounding her. Behind her closed eyes, she saw Uncle Lincoln standing by a bale smiling. She felt her stomach tighten. Her hands clutched each other and wrestled against her body. He came towards her and his eyes seemed to almost reach out and touch her.
"You're mighty beautiful, Eve," Uncle Lincoln said, pausing just a step or two from her.
"The hens are around here somewhere," she said, looking at her uncle's hands reaching out for her.
"Perhaps they're hiding," he said, moving so close she could smell the odour of his body and tobacco smoke. "Hens are like that. Always hiding things."
Eve squeezed her hands tight until they hurt and saw Uncle Lincoln's hands touch her shoulder. Her body froze. Her eyes shot open and she hit out against the air until she realized her mother was standing in front of her.
"What's got into you?" Sissy asked watching Eve backed away from her.
"Nothing," Eve said.
"What yer mean nothing; you nearly knocked me down with yer arms flying all over the place," Sissy said.
"I didn't know it was you," Eve said, sensing her stomach relaxing slightly.
"Who'd yer think it was?" Sissy said angrily. "You've been acting strange for months now. So what's got into yer?"
"Nothing," Eve said. "I'm fine. Just having a bad time with my stomach and such things." She walked away from her mother and attempted to look for eggs amongst the bales of hay.
"Don't lie to me," Sissy said." I know something's going on. You had a boy touch yer?"
Eve stood and stared at her mother. "Boy? What boy?"
"How'd I know. Think I know all the boys at that school, of yours?"
"Ain't no boy touched me. Who said they did?" Eve said angrily. "Because they're liars if they said they did." Eve's eyes glared at her mother and her hands tightened into fists by her side.
"Becky said she heard you in your sleep say things," Sissy said.
Eve said nothing. Her body felt suddenly wounded as if she'd been hit repeatedly and only now did all the pain come into her body and mind. She wanted to rest somewhere; wanted to hide away and sleep forever. She sat down on a bale and put her head in her hands.
"Well, has a boy touched yer?" Sissy said softly. She watched her daughter shake her head slowly side to side. She went and sat beside Eve on the bale and reached out and touched her hand. "Something's up. I know there is."
"I'm just tired and sick," Eve said softly.
"Best get you to see Doc Cassidy, then, see if he can sort something out for yer," Sissy suggested.
"Don't need see Doc Cassidy," Eve said.
"You can't go on like this," Sissy stated firmly.
"I'll be all right in a day or so," Eve said.
You're seeing Doc Cassidy and that's that," Sissy said.
Eve sank down and stared at the floor. It all seemed too much to fight back anymore. She nodded and gave her mother a sideward gaze. She felt her mother's hand smooth along her shoulder and stroke her back.
She remembered Uncle Lincoln's hands moving slowly over her shoulder, down her back and when he touched her thigh, she felt her stomach churn again; she jumped up, ran out of the barn, and puked outside in the yard, noisily and with the taste of tobacco and body odour hanging from her tongue.
Doctor Cassidy looked down at Eve as she lay on the bed and then looked at Sissy by the window standing with her arms folded.
"Could yer wait outside while I check her over?" he said.
"She ain't got nothing I ain't seen before," Sissy said, giving the doctor a stare.
"I known, but it's Eve right to see her doctor in private," he replied. Sissy sighed and left the room giving both Doctor Cassidy and Eve one of her glances she stood by the door before going out. Once the door was closed, he turned at looked at Eve again. "I hear you've been sick and not eating as yer should."
Eve stared at the doctor. "Just something I've ate," Eve said quietly.
"When did you first start being sick?"
"A month or so ago," Eve said, looking away from the doctor and gazing out of the window behind him.
"And when was your last menstruation?" he asked softly.
"My what?" Eve said, turning her gaze to the doctor again.
"Menstruation. When did have your last bleeding time?"
Eve blushed. She turned and looked at her hands folded over her stomach. "Not for a few months. Think this sickness done it," she said.
The doctor put his hand on her forehead and then took her wrist and felt her pulse watching his pocket-watch as he did so. "Can yer raise yer pinafore up to yer chest, Eve?"
Eve lifted her pinafore dress up and stared at the doctor as he placed his hands on her stomach. She felt queasy and hoped he'd not press too much. She listened as he made humming sounds, moving his hand up to her breasts. She closed her eyes. The hands were warm. She sensed the touch of skin on skin. "Something I've ate," she mumbled, feeling her queasiness rise in her throat.
"Just going to listen to yer heartbeat," he doctor said as he put his stethoscope on her stomach and then her chest. He moved it here and there and seemed uncertain where to put it next. Eve opened her eyes. The doctor gazed at her, moving the stethoscope away from her body and folded it away into his bag. "You had any boy touch yer?"
Eve looked wide-eyed at the doctor and shook her head. The doctor raised his eyebrows and then moved away from the bed. "Can I pull my pinafore down now?" Eve asked.
The doctor nodded," Yes, I've done," he said. He picked up his bag and went to the door. He turned and looked at Eve. "You sure no boy's touched yer?"
"No, sir," Eve replied, moving the pinafore dress down over waist and sitting up. "Is it something I've ate?"
"I need to see yer mother, first. Just lay there and rest," Doctor Cassidy said firmly. Eve lowered herself down and stared as the doctor left the room. She sensed the queasiness rise in her throat. The hands had gone now, but she could still feel the echo of them on her flesh. Uncle Lincoln had done that, she mused, closing her yes, hoping the queasiness would go away, but sensing it rise near and nearer. Suddenly she sat up, opened her eyes, and grabbed the bowl her mother had left by the bed and vomited loudly and quickly into it as the image of Uncle Lincoln rose to meet her eyes.
Sissy walked with the doctor along the passageway to the front porch. Doctor Cassidy looked out at the horizon for a few moments then looked at Sissy.
"Has Eve been with any boy that you know of?"
"What yer mean been with? Sissy asked, frowning.
"Is she seeing any boy at the moment?" Doctor Cassidy asked.
"Not that I know of," Sissy replied. "Why?"
"Because yer daughter's pregnant," Doctor Cassidy said gently.
Sissy stared at the doctor as if he'd said something insulting to her. "Must be a mistake. She ain't been with no boy," Sissy said firmly.
"There's no mistake, Mrs Forebear. Eve's about three months gone."
Sissy stared at the doctor as the words sank into her. "I can't believe this, Doc," she muttered. "She wouldn't do such as thing. She's no understanding of these things," Sissy added.
"That doesn't mean that someone else didn't," Doctor Cassidy said.
"What will her daddy say?" Sissy said.
"We need to take this easy. We need to try and get Eve to say what's happened to her recently," the doctor said.
"Now?" Sissy said.
"Best time while she's lying down." Sissy nodded. She felt numb as if someone had opened her up and drag her heart and soul out of her body. The doctor walked back inside and she followed, her legs feeling weak and shaky. The doctor opened the bedroom door, he, and Sissy entered and closed the door behind them.
Eve sat up and stared at them both.
Sissy wanted to say something, but nothing would come from her lips. She looked at her daughter and tried to imagine what the doctor had said and sense if there could be a baby in Eve's womb. She felt both angry and frightened. The features of her daughter looked so innocent; so child-like. She had an impulse to run to Eve now and smack her hard and another impulse to embrace her tightly and hold her so close she could feel the baby's heartbeat against her own.
"Eve, have you let any boy touch you?" Doctor Cassidy asked.
"Touch me?" Eve repeated softly, looking at the doctor. "Why?"
"Doc asked yer a question Eve, answer him," Sissy said sharply.
Eve stared at her mother and felt her stomach tighten. "No," she muttered.
"Don't lie, girl," Sissy said. "Some boy's touched you and you know it."
Eve looked at the doctor and then at her mother again. "No boy's touched me." She thought a few seconds, her eyes watching her mother who seemed to be angrier than she'd seen her for some time. "Adam kissed me," she muttered.
"Adam?" Sissy said. "Yer cousin, Adam?"
"Just the once," Eve said.
"Did he touch you anywhere?" the doctor asked.
"He held my hand."
"Where else did he touch you?" Sissy said.
Eve closed her eyes. The image of Uncle Lincoln was by the window. The hands were over her body now. Touching her soft at first, then moving faster and in places, she thought dirty and then…She opened her eyes. "He touched me," she muttered to the room.
"Adam touched you?" Sissy said.
"No," Eve said slowly, looking at her mother face. "Uncle Lincoln." The room went dark and the image of Uncle Lincoln faded into the emptiness around her.
When Eve opened her eyes, she saw her mother sitting in a chair by the bed. Her mother's face was drawn as if she'd been crying.
"Why didn't yer tell me?" Sissy said. "About yer Uncle Lincoln touching yer?"
"He said he'd kill me if I said anything," Eve said softly. "Where is he now?"
"Police took him off before yer daddy got to him," Sissy said.
"Will he go to jail?" Sissy asked.
"Rot there I hope," Sissy said bitterly.
"I didn't know what to do?" Eve said. "He touched me. Said I was beautiful."
"You still feel sick?" Sissy asked.
"Not too bad now." Eve sighed. "Will I feel better, now? Was it something I ate made me sick?"
Sissy sighed deeply. "No, child." She leaned forward and hugged Eve close to her. "Yer gonna have a baby."
"How?" Eve asked, feeling her mother's warmth around her.
"Yer needn't worry about it now. I'm gonna help yer child. When the time comes."
"What will I do with the baby? Is it mine?" Eve asked.
"Have to see what yer daddy says," Sissy replied.
"Who's my baby's daddy?" Eve asked softly.
"Don't matter none who he was." Sissy laid her hand on Eve's brow. "Ain't gonna see you no more. Ain't gonna harm my child no more." Sissy kissed her daughter's cheek and Eve closed her eyes. The room smelt of Sissy and she could hear the soft lullaby of her mother's voice filter into the air about her.