FRESH MILK - FIRST PARTY - ROCKING CRADLE
A big house, old, broken and hissing at the edges, yet warm and welcoming, teetered at the edge of the sandy road. They were in the cozy town of Villeroy. It has lost most of its charm now, but back then it didn’t have a highway piercing through its heart. It was still cozy. It belonged to a family with whom she shared a last name, Demers, though there was no blood connection between any of them. She would skip across the road, (looking left and right of course—big girl that she was) smiling, happy because they would always take such good care of her. A big family was fitting for a big house, and they were just that. They had twelve children, and every single one of them was willing to go out into the woods and play hide and seek with her. Sometimes the whole family went and it would take hours until someone stepped on a twig, revealing their hiding spot and losing the game. When she hid behind a tree stump, holding her breath, her forehead sweaty, with anticipation and her heart pulsating through her clothes, she didn’t feel any different from them. They were hiding behind the same trees too. The bark dug into their knitted clothes and left long red marks on their backs. Each had the same long scratches; they were simply children playing a game.
The best part of that day was in the late afternoon when they came back from the woods, exhausted. Her damp clothing stuck to her back and pushed against her throbbing scratches. They headed over to the barn and Lauriana was sat down onto a small stool at the corner. With the help of their father, the children got to work. One prepared the space while another got the cow and then the bucket. Then they crowded and took turns pulling and tugging, the milk pouring into the bucket in spurts of hot splashes. A cupful of frothy milk would be served—she got the biggest, of course, and then they sat in silence and savored. It was hot outside, the barn buzzed with humidity and straw stuck to the children’s sweaty legs. I can picture her in my mind, a small tidbit of a kid with a thick, milky Charlie Chaplin mustache on her upper lip, giggling incessantly.
When we talk about this memory, my grandmother fondly remembers their wide smiles and helping hands, and how not once did they look at her any differently. My father bitterly points out every time (although never to her face) that she was never allowed to milk the cow herself. I feel both sides of the story; I want to imagine loving neighbors, but there is also the hurt that I feel just like my father does. So I take this memory as one of innocence— an innocence that emerges back every time she thinks of those gleeful days of her early childhood.