Sunday, April 8, 2012

Chapters 11 & 12

Here ya go... chapters 11 & 12. These are going to be the last chapters I post on this blog, after this you'll just hafta get the book! I'm hoping to have it available on within a couple of months. As always, comments and suggestions are welcome!

Chapter 11

School started soon and we were struck back into reality. Well, as much as we allowed reality to have us. Olive was on a mission, and so was I. Her mission was to locate her great-grandmother, and – well, you already know what my mission was.

I wondered why Olive didn’t speak of her father’s parents, or why she hadn’t communicated with this great-grandmother before, but I figured that as talkative as Olive was, if she wanted me to know she’d tell me. And it happened one lazy Saturday afternoon when she lugged a big phone book into our room.

She heaved it onto her desk, and said with her back turned to me, “My mom would be so mad if she knew what I was doin’ right now.” I wasn’t sure if she was talking to me or herself at that point, so I stayed quiet. She kept talking. “My dad’s folks didn’t take too kindly to him and her bein’ together. After all, she was only seventeen when she had me.”


She turned around and nodded at me. “That’s why I don’t want to call my grandparents, even though they live around here, too. It’s my great-grandmother that showed my dad some grace.” She turned back around to the phone book. “Yancey, Yancey… there she is. Clara Yancey.”

I hopped up and peered over her shoulder.

“She lives right here in Bloomington,” I said. Olive nodded, then sank into her chair.

“I can’t do this, Maddie,” she said. “What if –“

“Olive, please. There are no what if’s. She will be glad to hear from you. Hey – what if you just went to visit her? You have her address now.”

Olive nodded, not looking at me. “Will you go with me?”

So we rode the bus to the stadium and hopped into Olive’s car. Her grandmother lived on the edge of town in a tiny old house. Olive must’ve checked the address a hundred times before finally mustering the courage to go to the door. I volunteered to stay in the car, but she practically pulled me up the sidewalk with her. Upon knocking, we were greeted by a home nurse, who said that Ms. Yancey was resting, but should be up soon. She invited us in, and we graciously accepted.

The little house was dark, but I’m sure it would have been as bright as day if all the curtains were pulled back. It was musty, and looked a mix of the 1960s and 1920s in style. Pictures hung on every wall, with one wall in particular almost completely full of them. Olive and I were taken to the couch, but she hopped up as soon as the nurse left the room to inspect the photos.

“Here’s my dad. Here’s my dad,” she whispered excitedly. “And here’s another one. Oh my goodness, Maddie, he’s all over this wall.”

I grinned and went to join her. Roger Yancey was indeed smiling out at us from many different points on the wall. Olive then discovered another photo.

“That’s me,” she breathed. “I can’t believe it. That’s me.”

Suddenly, a noise came from opposite the room.

“Ms. Yancey is awake, ladies,” whispered the nurse. “She’ll be out in a moment.”

Olive and I scrambled back to the couch, and a minute or two later the tiny old woman emerged from the bedroom. She gasped when she saw Olive.

“I’d know a Yancey any time I see one,” she said weakly, but there was a twinkle in her eye. “You must be Olive.”

Olive’s jaw dropped. “Y-yes. How did you know?”

“Sweet pea, you have your father’s features. How I miss dear Roger.” She slowly sat down on the couch next to Olive. “It is so good to see you, dear.” 

Olive was speechless, but threw herself into a gentle hug with her grandmother. And I couldn’t help but once more ache for a grandmother of my own.

Olive and Clara – which she requested she be called – spent the next two hours reminiscing, but Olive did not forget our wonderings, and slipped questions about the Yancey family history into the conversation. We found out the family had been in the area since before she can remember, and the earliest name we received was George Yancey, born in 1867 in Hinkle County, the next county over, much to the delight of Olive, who wrote every detail down. But Clara could not remember anything about a connection to a Fox family. Another dead end, I thought. Everybody’s getting answers but me. Still, it was lovely to visit with Clara, who treated me with the same kindness and hospitality as she did her great-granddaughter. When we left, she and Olive made plans to visit again the next weekend, and despite my jealously, I was overwhelmed with happiness for my friend. 

Chapter 12

            Olive continued to visit with her grandmother every chance she got, and even began taking care of her too. The weeks dragged on, and I found myself growing more and more homesick. My parents had not bought me a car – it was almost as if they feared I’d get myself into some mischief (imagine) – so I couldn’t visit home on the weekends. But one weekend in mid-October, Ellie and Libby came down to visit in Libby’s car.

             It was wonderful catching up with the two of them. Ellie reported that not much had changed at home, except Lottie kept asking about me, and threw a major fit when she was told she could not come with them on their visit. She also said Mama had been more quiet than usual, but she supposed that it was just that she missed me.

            As we sat there on the floor catching up, Olive strolled in. She greeted our visitors and plopped herself right on the floor. (Like I said, she was a long lost sister.) Then I suddenly remembered I had not filled in Ellie or Libby about the Yancey mysteries. I recounted the events, and Libby, our trusty genealogist, said, “Well, you know there’s an Indiana room at the Bloomington library, right?”

            Well, Ellie and I had no familiarity with genealogy, and Olive was a newbie, so we stared at her dumbly. “A what?”

            “An Indiana room. It’s a room that has all sorts of resources on Indiana history, especially local history. If the Yanceys are from around here, there should be stuff in there about them. Even if it’s recent.”

            We all looked at each other and without a word, stood up and headed for the door. We were in the car heading towards the library within minutes.

            We walked in the library, Olive clutching her notes from her grandmother. Libby whispered to us all that it might be beneficial to look through the recent public records, and even the cemetery records. So we all pulled out different books and started flipping through them, looking for key words: Yancey, Fox, and Ames.

            I soon discovered how common a name like Fox is, and this grew pretty frustrating. There were no records of a James or Eleanor Fox. Discouraged, I closed the book I had in disgust. I really should just give up, I thought. We must be aliens. There was no other explanation. I was about to get up and walk out of the room when Olive whispered across the table, “I found George Yancey.”

            I managed to feign interest as she showed me his burial record. There were many Yanceys in this cemetery.

            “What cemetery is that?” asked Libby.

            “Umm, hold on,” said Olive, flipping back a couple pages. “It is…. Maddox Cemetery.”

            “What?” I nearly shouted.

            Shhhh,” hissed Ellie. “And what?”

            Maddox Cemetery….” said Olive, a little more slowly this time.

            Our eyes were huge.

            “What?” asked Olive, obviously confused.

            “That’s my name,” I said.

            “I thought your name was Madelyn.”

            “That’s what I wanted you to think. Who wants to have a name like Maddox Fox?”

            “I like it,” piped up Ellie. I gave her a look. “What?”

            “Guys, I’m sure it means nothing,” said Olive, glancing back down at the book.

            “I’m not ruling anything out at this point,” I said, shaking my head.

            Olive said nothing, but flipped back to the burial records. “Lots of Yanceys here,” she said again. “This cemetery is super old.” Then: “Can we go there?”

            “Um, I don’t know if I want to go there,” I said. “That’s just creepy.”

            “Maddie, it’ll bug you until you do,” said Libby. “And you don’t have too much to go on that you’re connected to this Yancey family anyway. What – a weird look from your parents and your mom looking at old pictures? I think you’re being a little oversensitive to these things anymore.”

            “Easy for you to say,” I snapped, then caught myself. “Fine. I’m sorry. Well, let’s go. Are there directions in there?” I looked back to Olive, but saw that her face had gone quite pale. She furrowed her eyebrows and nodded.

            “Yup. This cemetery is on Fox Hollow Road.”

            I hung my head, then had to laugh. Things were getting really crazy now.

            “Well, what are we waiting for?” I said, throwing my hands in the air. “Guess we’d better be going.”  

            Olive ran over to make a copy of the directions to the cemetery, and then we all trooped back to the car. I sat up front next to Libby, and Ellie and Olive were in the back.

            “Okay, Libby, you’re gonna wanna go out to State Road 46 and head east,” Olive called from the backseat. “You know where that is?”

            “Yup,” said Libby, and turned out of the parking lot. Once we were on 46 heading out of town, she asked what to look for next.

            “Well, keep goin’ until you’re in Hinkle County. Then look for Maddox Ridge Road.”

My head spun around. “Are ya serious?”

Olive almost looked ashamed. “Yeah, I’m serious.”

Trying hard to focus on the beautiful autumn hills that surrounded us, I remained quiet until we came upon the road. Libby turned her car cautiously onto it. It was severely steep, and went nearly straight up a hill.

“Fox Hollow Road should be on your left in a couple miles,” came the navigator’s voice. My stomach did a flip. This road made me feel like I was on a roller coaster, and it didn’t help that I was scared to death of finding this cemetery.

Fox Hollow Road came sooner than I expected, and it was steep in the opposite way. Libby took it extra slow, fearing she would bottom out once we got down the hill. The trees were thick and it seemed much darker down this road. I didn’t realize how tense I was until Ellie said my name and I jumped.

“I-I shouldn’t be here. Stop the car, Libby, stop the car.”

“I can’t.”

“Stop the car!”

She slowed to a halt. I had a terrible foreboding feeling come over me all of a sudden. Mama had said it was too dangerous for me to know where we had come from. Why didn’t I just believe her? After years of wondering, I was thinking now that I really didn’t want to know. 

“I shouldn’t be here,” I repeated. “Something’s not right.”

“Maddie, I don’t understand,” said Ellie.

 “Neither do I,” I said, my eyes staring straight forward. “I just know I-“ At that moment we all jumped at a terrible screeching sound. A car nearly rear-ended us as it came up behind us. Libby hit the gas and sped forward. I buried my face in my hands.

It was a few moments before I dared look out the window again, and as I did I saw the cemetery in the distance. Libby cruised smoothly down the next hill and then we were there. A rickety old sign that read Maddox Cemetery est. 1820 loomed just inside the entrance on a gravel road. Libby pulled off to the side and turned the car off. We slowly got out of the car, and I immediately clung to Ellie’s arm.

Olive pulled out the little note card on which she’d written the section and lot number of George’s grave, and headed off, declaring, “Well, George, let’s find you.”

This was enough to force a smile out of me, and I took a look around. This was a small cemetery, and very old. It must had been years since its last burial. A little stream bubbled nearby, giving just an inkling of lightheartedness to its visitors. It was at this moment I realized that I had never been in a cemetery in my entire life.

The first stone caught my eye. It looked just like an old tree stump and had a stone stack of books leaning against it. The one next to it looked just the same. I didn’t see the name Yancey, so I moved on.

            Olive flitted from stone to stone as if she was mulling about at a party, Libby right on her heels. This was certainly their element. I glanced sideways at Ellie to gage her thoughts, but her face was unreadable. Then she cocked her head slightly, squinted her eyes, and bent down at the stone in front of us.

            “What do you see?” I asked.

            “I think that stone says Maddox,” she said.

            “Well, I’m sure there are some people here with that last name,” I said, my voice a little shaky. “It’s probably named after them.”

            Ellie nodded and stood up. “Maddie, you ever wonder where Mama got your name?”

            I rolled my eyes. “Ellie, what don’t I wonder about? I actually know where she got my name. It was Papa’s mother’s last name. And your name was from her name, too. Eleanor Maddox.”

            “That was a mouthful,” Ellie laughed. Then she cocked her head funnily again and peered a little closer at the stone in front of her. “Maddie, you got any paper and crayons?”

            “Yeah, sure, let me pull them outta my pocket,” I laughed. “No, why would I have those? And better yet, why do you need them?”

            “To do a rubbing. I think this stone says Eleanor Maddox.”

            It was my turn to cock my head, squint my eyes, and crouch in front of this very weatherworn gravestone. Surely not. It must be a coincidence, it had to be.

            At that same moment, Olive called from across the cemetery. “Maddie, come here.” Her voice had an odd strain to it. I hesitated, but made my way over to her. She and Libby were standing stock still in front of a couple more very old stones. 

            “Ah, I see you found George. How dandy,” I said. “And it says his parents’ names. Louis Yancey –“ Then I realized that Olive was pointing to the stone next to George’s.

Louis Edward Yancey, son of Henry and Maddox Fox Yancey

            There was more, but that was all I needed to see. I staggered backwards, my head spinning. Was this what Mama had been keeping from me all along? I nearly fell over backwards, but Olive’s strong arms steadied me.

            “I’m standing over my own son’s grave.” I heard my voice say it, but I couldn’t believe it.

            Olive came around beside me, looking skeptical. “Maddie, I’m sure there are plenty of Maddox Foxes. We just happened upon one of them,” she said uneasily. I looked to Libby and Ellie. Ellie looked like she was in shock, and Libby looked like she had just made a grand discovery.

            “It makes sense,” she said pensively. “It really does.”

            “Um, Maddie. Look at that,” whispered Ellie. 

            I turned around and my stomach took another turn for the worse. Just behind us was a small stone that read Charlotte Fox. Aged 16 years. My sister? Little Lottie? No. No, surely not. Just beyond this was another little stone. My eyes widened and I motioned to Libby to look. She gasped.

            James Fox. Aged 3 mos 15 days. Gone so soon.

            “Your James?” she whispered.

            I closed my eyes tight but the hot tears welled up anyway. My sister, my brother. Mama’s agonized face. The light trickling of the stream suddenly felt like a roar in my ears. Mama had said it was too dangerous. Why didn’t I listen, why didn’t I listen?

            Libby took me and Ellie by the arm and escorted us to the car where we sat silently in the back seat, mulling over this discovery. It all made sense, but then again, it was absolute nonsense. How in the world could we be here?

            I turned and looked out the window. I saw my reflection looking bleakly back at me, my face all red and puffy, a striking and terrifying resemblance of Mama. Libby and Olive were out there looking at the rest of the few graves, but they soon joined us in the car. Olive let out a great heave when she sat down, and she hung her head. Libby glanced back at us.

            “Well?” she said.

            For once I had nothing to say.

            “Did you find anyone else?” Ellie asked quietly.

            “I don’t think so. But Olive and I thought of something.”

Olive took another huge sigh, and looked back at me. “If that really was you, Maddie, then – you’re my ancestor.”

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