“Please, could you tell us a story?”
Clarise stood and thought for a moment then replied. “I’m sorry Mariot. I don’t know any stories for young’ns like yourselves.”
“My friend Clara taught us a wonderful story,” whispered Mariot, attempting to fight off a yawn. “I’ll teach it to you if you’d like.”
Clarise sat herself down on the side of Mariot’s bed, adjusting her large bottom so she would not slip off the edge. “All right darl’n. I’m ready if you are.”
“The story is called ‘TOMORROW’S DREAMS’.” Mariot thought for a moment making sure she remembered it all. “My friend Clara said everybody should dream, especially if they were sad or they felt all alone.”
Clarise listened attentively.
“I dream all the time.” It was obvious that Mariot had alot of thoughts stored up inside of her that needed to be released. When Mariot had talked herself empty, she then began the story. “Go to sleep little darling. The day has ended and night has fallen. Dream of tomorrow, of the warmth of the sun. Dream of tomorrow, of the beauty that’s calling. Dream little darling. Dream of better things to come.”
No sooner had Mariot finished the last word, then her eyes closed, and she drifted off to sleep. Clarise was moved by Mariot’s story. She bent down to kiss her soft, pale cheek one more time. As she pressed her lips up against the small, soft face, Mariot whispered. “Did you know our dreams can help us find our tomorrow?”
Clarise smiled tenderly and said; “Yes child, now go to sleep.”
Before drifting off again, Mariot whispered one last thing. “Do you dream, Clarise?” Clarise’s heart went out to the little girl lying on the bed. Her heart was filled with so much innocence, while her big blue eyes had seen so much evil. Clarise reached out to the small frail hand and held it tightly in hers.
Downstairs in the sitting room, Johnny waited for Clarise’s return. When she arrived, Johnny could see the puffy bags beneath her eyes, the result of her tenderhearted emotions. It was her large sensitive heart that attracted him to her so long ago. She had cared for him and put up with him for so many years. She understood his irrational and sometimes bull-headed behavior when no one else could.
“Please sit down mama. We need to talk about this situation.”
“I know Johnny, we can’t keep them children here,” muttered Clarise.
Johnny cleared his throat, his face taking on a more serious guise. “You know Carl’s out there looking for them real adamantly like. If he gets wind of them being here, you can be sure we’re going to be paying a very big price. A human life means nothing at all to Carl James. Clarise leaned forward, the lines in her old kindly face showed the burden and stress induced by their present predicament.
“Papa, I hope you’re not suggesting we send them poor girls away from here. I can’t abandon them the way life has already done.” She stood up and began pacing. “There must be another way Johnny. We have to help them. If we turn them out, Carl would surely get his hands on them. Then what? They end up six feet under dirt.”
Clarise’s usual strong form suddenly became drained of all it’s energy. She was angry and frustrated.
“We should be ashamed of ourselves,” she roared looking straight at her husband. “All of us in this here town. We all stood by all these years while that tyrant murdered that poor woman. Right before our very eyes!” Johnny’s body stiffened at Clarise’s overpowering outburst. He had never witnessed this type of hysterical behavior before in his wife. “We have an obligation to them children. To protect them the way we should have protected their mother.
Johnny raised his large callused hands. He was about to speak when Clarise intervened. “We owe it to Mariot and Florance. If we don’t help them escape, we will be responsible for their deaths. By this time, the tears were streaming down her large round face faster than she could wipe them away with her stiffly starched apron.
Johnny looked at her but said nothing. She could see by looking at him that he was contemplating her words. Silence engulfed the room for several minutes before Johnny slammed his hand on the nearby table. “l’ve got it mama!” he snapped excitedly. “My sister Rosy; maybe she can help us.”
“Rosy?” replied Clarise. “Isn’t she the sister who’s married to that important man. The one whose pockets are always overflowing with coins?”
“She even lives in a house the size of this here town,” smiled Johnny feeling very pleased at his idea.
Clarise’s face brightened up with a flicker of hope shining through. “Yes, Rosy; I nearly forgot about that girl. You haven’t seen her in years, but she’s our only hope. Johnny strolled over to a small occasional table near the sitting room window. He filled up a small pewter cup with fresh water, which his wife kept available at all times. Taking a long refreshing gulp, Johnny smacked his lips fully satisfied at its thirst quenching affect. He strained his thoughts trying to remember the contents of the last letter that he had received from Rosy. He finally pulled open the small drawer beneath the tabletop and began shuffling through a clutter of paper. Looking at Clarise he rolled his eyes and gave his head a slight shake.
“You know mama; I think it’s time we burn some of this drawer filler. I can’t say we need it all. We can’t find anything amidst all this mess.”
Spotting some familiar handwriting, Johnny pulled his hand out from the drawer waving an envelope in the air. “Well there you have it papa. If we burned all that paper like you said, you would never have found that letter, would you have?” Clarise broke into a teasing smile.
He opened up the envelope being careful not to rip the letter. Scanning the lines one by one he stopped several times to look at Clarise who was standing impatiently behind him looking over his shoulder.
“Well, do I have to fill you in or have you read the letter yourself?” asked Johnny. “Not much information in here about her life.” He laid the paper down. “Since Rosy’s husband passed on, she’s had nothing to write about. It must have destroyed her heart real bad. I don’t think she’s remarried or we would’ve heard about it from her own lips. I imagine living in a big empty house is probably pretty darn boring. She could sure use a few children to liven the place up. Clarise was delighted by the new development. She ran to the writing table, yanked open the drawer, and pulled out the writing tablet and ink. She handed it to her husband, not wasting anymore time. In the letter, Johnny did not go into any details. He scrawled a short note to his sister, hoping to convey the urgency of the request.
“NEED YOUR HELP ROSY. QUICKLY! HAVE NO TIME
FOR RESPONSE. CHILDREN NEED SAFE SHELTER IMMEDIATELY.
DEATH AWAITS THEM HERE. MUST FIND MODE
OF TRANSPORTATION. CHILDREN WILL ARRIVE SOON.