Title What we Carry
Word Count 534
Disclaimer I did not invent William Bush
What We Carry
The bell over the door spoke. Phyllis wiped her hands down her apron, and looked sharply up.
“Ah. Miss Bush. Do come in.” The woman's eyes softened over the tight mouthed smile.
The little girl was Miss now, right enough, though the print dress fell on her, straight from the shoulders. She had the baby hefted onto her hip, and the hip cocked out to hold him there, as a woman does, but she was no no woman yet. She'd put her hair up, poor little thing, and brought her basket.
“Let me take the baby dear.” Phyllis said. “He looks heavy.”
“Yes, Ma'a'm. He is.”
Phyllis held her arms out, and the boy came into them. His face was chapped and red. His thumb was
firmly in his mouth.
“Hello William,” Phyllis said. “How old are you now?”
The baby smiled and held up 3 saliva covered fingers.
“Three next week.” His sister corrected.
“Big boy.” William said indistinctly. He was pretty . That blond hair would go brown later, surely, but his eyes were deeply fringed and blue, and he seemed clever enough.
“Yes. You are a big boy.” She set him on the counter, next to the cheese wheel.
“Now, little Miss Bush, what can I get for you today?”
“Half a pound of cheese, please. And four eggs.”
Phyllis smiled, and took the basket. There were five in the Bush household, as of this week. She wondered who was going without. Not William, obviously. He was weaned now, but chubby and heavy as a large ham.
William watched as she sliced the cheese with her wire saw. She watched his fingers, they looked the sort to reach out and get cut. And they were not at all clean.
She gave the basket back.
“How is your mother?” She asked. She really did want to know. The woman had sat through the service, stood when they put him in the ground with not a sound, not a word. The little girls had wept.
“She is well, ma'am.” Miss Bush said, automatically. She lifted her chin. “You've put six eggs in here.” She said.
Phyllis smiled. “Well, so I did. That's all right. They were small anyway.”
The little girl nodded. She could not afford the refuge of pride. Her mouse colored hair was already sliding out of its pins. She gave over the coins she had brought, exactly enough for four eggs and half a pound of cheese.
“Come William.” She held her arms out.
“Can he not walk?” Phyllis asked. “He must hurt your back.”
Miss Bush smiled. She kissed him on the head. “Yes ma'am, he can walk, but he mostly goes the wrong direction. And I don't mind carrying him. Do I William?”
The thumb came out of his mouth with am audible pop.
“My daddy is dead.” He said surprisingly clearly. “He wented under the ground.”
“I know he did.” Phyllis said, softly. “You be a good boy now.”
“Good boy.” Said William Bush.