The Whisper Jar
A sample reading
Two minutes after Dr. Mangrove made the announcement that Hadley Crump was going to die,
Lucinda walked in the bedroom, stirring a cup of chamomile with her finger and smiling like it
was Christmas. Hadley’s momma lay across his legs, soaking the blanket with her tears, but
Lucinda wasn’t one to pay Hadley’s momma much mind. She poked that tea-stirring finger in
his mouth as though she meant to feed him the whole cup one lick at a time.
“I brought you something,” she said, and she wasn’t talking about tea. Hadley followed her
gaze to the strip of violet paper on the rim of the saucer. He waited until she left to refill the
cup before he let himself look at it.
I could hear the churning sound of her tongue as it licked her teeth and lips, and I could feel
the hot breath on my neck...
About the time he got to the hot breath part, Hadley’s fingers let loose and the words
loopty-looped away with all the devilish momentum of a broken promise.
On any other day, Hadley’s momma would have been curious to know what Lucinda Browning
had passed to her seventeen year old son.
On any other day, Hadley would have squashed the note in his palm, hiding it away like he
hid all of Lucinda’s secrets.
Lucinda, however, was always on her toes. Because Hadley was the cook’s son and Lucinda
Browning was a Browning, she was careful to return later and search for the note under his
bed. “Did you read it?” she asked.
Hadley gave a nod.
Lucinda balled the note up and pitched it in the fire. With a sigh that seemed to say, Well
that’s that then, she leaned down and ran her teeth around the hair pin-curve of his ear. “Tell
me this, Hadley; if you had it to do all over again...would you do it all over again?”
Hadley, who suffered a sudden and desperate desire to do it all over again, could only answer,
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