Chapter [something]

Her aunts. Ruth, Martha, and Ellie. It seemed like it had been ages since she saw or spoke to them. Actually, it had only been about three months, and it wasn’t like they spoke often anyway; but Bigma’s death had brought them all together—aunts, uncles, cousins, and well over a hundred friends had converged on Flora. Mississippi to pay their respects. The big new church had been packed, and the social hall had been overflowing with food and sweet tea, and people passing out hugs and swapping stories of the Legendary Agusta Johnson.

After the repast, family crowded into the Johnson family home, filling every room except BigMa’s. Everybody would stand in the doorway and stare, but nobody would cross the threshold. Nobody, that is, except Glory. At Aunt Martha’s suggestion, Glory walked into the small room and let up the shades just the way BigMa liked it. The electric fan in the window filled the room with the moist spring air and the scent of early Magnolia blossoms. According to her eccentric aunt, Glory would feel the love of her grandmother by being in her room. Glory didn’t believe it but she’d longed for the privacy and the time away from Malcolm. She shed her simple black dress and pulled back the layers of quilts. Snuggled in bed, Glory wrapped her arms around BigMa’s pillow and inhaled her grandmother’s combination of blue hair grease and menthol pain salve.

Glory had tried to cry, laying there in the softest warmest bed ever, but no tears would come. The loss of her grandmother, as painful as it was, was not the worst she’d ever felt. She stared at the pill bottles on the bedside table. Pills for pain and sleep and stomach trouble. She felt a flutter in her stomach. Not nausea or hunger pangs, but a flutter of hope. As she’d drifted off to sleep, Glory knew her time with Malcolm was almost over.