When You Were Young (Chapter 9, page 1 of 4)

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Chapter 9

Samantha woke up screaming. In her dreams, Mama Veronica wielded a frying pan bigger around than Samantha's birthday cake. No matter how fast Samantha ran, Mama Veronica was always a step behind, ready to bring the pan down on her backside.

Hands lifted her out of the crib. Samantha swatted at them, calming only when she heard Molly's voice say, "It's all right, dear. No one's going to hurt you."

Samantha's whole body shook as she cried. "Mama hates me," she said between sobs.

"No, of course not. Mama loves you very much." Molly took Samantha over to the hearth, sitting with her in front of the cooling embers. She bounced Samantha on her knee and wiped at Samantha's tears. "Your mama has been under a lot of stress. Sometimes when people are under stress they get angry and do things they don't mean. It doesn't mean they're bad people."

"She hit me. That bad."

"I know, dear. I'm sure your mama is very sad about that and tomorrow morning she'll come back and tell you how very, very sorry she is."

"I hate her," Samantha said.

"Samantha, you shouldn't hate anyone. People like your mama need our love and understanding. It's not easy being responsible for you and Prudence and all the other children. It's a very difficult thing to care for so many people."

"She mean and I hate her."

"I know you don't mean that. Tomorrow you'll see how bad Mama feels and forgive her because you love her."

"No I won't. I hate her forever."

Molly stared in the fire, absently fiddling with Samantha's hair. When she spoke, her voice sounded very sad. "I had a mama once, years ago. When I was not much older than Prudence a terrible thing happened and I lost my mama."

"Where she go?"

"She went to Heaven, dear, to live with the angels."

"What happen to her?"

"Well, I guess you could say she drowned. She fell into the water and never came back again."

"Why not?"

"It's hard to explain, dear, but when people go up to Heaven like my mama they can't ever come back again. They wait for us to go to them and live with them forever."

"How you get to Heaven?"

"Well, you have to be a very good girl and not do anything bad. And when people do bad things we have to forgive them."

"I don't wanna fogive Mama. She mean to me."

"I know, sweetie, but you must. Before my mama went away to Heaven, I got angry with her. She hit me like your mama did and I didn't think I could ever forgive her. I thought I would hate her forever. It was only after she left that I realized how much I still loved and missed her."

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