Visiting Miss Emmogene became a regular thing for me. Rick and Mick teased me unmercifully at times but always resisted an invitation to join me. They were sure I was under some evil spell and at any given time would turn into a blood-sucking zombie.
One day after we had eaten our cookies and sipped our brew, Miss Emmogene brought out a red silk dress, swinging carefully from a velvet covered hanger. “This is what I’ll be wearing when my beau comes for me,” she said. As I looked at it, I wondered if she could tell that it was being eaten by moths.
I ignored it and quickly asked her how she met her beau.
He face lit up and she closed her eyes as she said “one day I walked up town to do some shopping and it started pouring rain. I didn’t have an umbrella and I was just standing there, hoping it would soon stop. All of a sudden this Adonis was standing beside me, shielding me with his umbrella.”
She opened her eyes and said “do you know who Adonis is?” I said “I think he was a Greek God.”
“Yes he was,” she said. She sighed and said “at that very moment, he reached up and stole my heart. It was truly love at first sight. With the rain pouring down on us, we talked for what seemed like hours. Then the rain stopped and we had to part. In just those few hours, I knew I had found the love of my life. He told me that he was an adventurer and was out to make the world his own. That’s when we agreed that as soon as he made his fortune, he would send for me.”
She ran her hands across the dress and said “It sounds just like a fairy tale doesn’t it?”
She put the dress away and asked me if I liked music. I told her it was alright. I watched as she pulled the cover off of an old gramophone and put on some kind of record I had never seen before. She turned the crank and through the scratchy noise, we listened to a song called “Oh How We Danced.”
She smiled and said “this is the song my beau and I will dance to on our wedding night.”
I listened to the song, having no idea what it was really about and then told her that I needed to get on back home. As usual, I thanked her for the cookies and brew and again, lied when I told her that I liked her dress and the song.
When I got home, I talked to mama about her. Mama had asked me before what we talked about, besides cookies and brew and I had always told her “not much.” But today I told her that Miss Emmogene had a beau.
Mama looked surprised and asked me if I had seen him. She looked even more surprised when I said “yes.” She looked at me and said “you’ve actually seen him?”
“Well,” I said. “I’ve seen the pictures she’s painted of him and she told me how they met and that she’s waiting for him to send for her.”
Mama came over and sat down next to me and said “Johnny,” (mama only called me Johnny when she was being serious) “you know how sometimes you go outside and point your finger and go pow at the robbers behind the tree?”
“Yes’um,” I said. “Well,” she said, “you know they aren’t real, right? They’re only make-believe.” I repeated “yes’um.”
I thought about it for a few minutes and said “mama? Are you saying that Miss Emmogene’s beau is make-believe?”
She smiled at me and said “I’m saying that sometimes, people get so lonely they pretend to have people in their lives. Some pretend to have children and grandchildren although we never see them. I think somehow it makes them feel a little less lonely to pretend.”
“Should I tell her he’s not real?” I asked. Mama put her hand on my face and said “no, child. There is nothing worse than being on this Earth and having nobody who cares about you.”
To be continued_______________