She was so deeply imbedded in my consciousness that for the first year of school I seem to have believed that each of my teachers was my mother in disguise. As soon as the last bell had sounded, I would rush off for home, wondering as I ran if I could possibly make it to our apartment before she had succeeded in transforming herself. Invariably she was already in the kitchen by the time I arrived, and setting out my milk and cookies. Instead of causing me to give up my delusions, however, the feat merely intensified my respect for her powers. And then it was always a relief not to have been caught her between incarnations anyway – even if I never stopped trying; I knew that my father and sister were innocent of my mother’s real nature, and the burden of betrayal that I imagined would fall to me if I ever came upon her unawares was more than I wanted to bear at the age of five. I think I even feared that I might have to be done away with were I to catch sight of her flying in from school through the bedroom window, or making herself emerge, limb by limb, out of an invisible state and into her apron.
Archive for the '5 Years Old' Category
When I was almost six and Jem was nearly ten, our summertime boundaries (within calling distance of Calpurnia) were Mrs Henry Lafayette Dubose’s house two doors to the north of us, and the Radley place three doors to the south. We were never tempted to break them. The Radley place was inhabited by an unknown entity the mere description of whom was enough to make us behave for days on end; Mrs Dubose was plain hell.
That was the summer Dill came to us.
Early one morning as we were beginning our day’s play in the back yard, Jem and I heard something next door in Miss Rachel Haverford’s collard patch. We went to the wire fence to see if there was a puppy – Miss Rachel’s rat terrier was expecting – instead we found someone sitting looking at us. Sitting down, he wasn’t much higher than the collards. We stared at him until he spoke:
‘Hey yourself,’ said Jem pleasantly.
‘I’m Charles Baker Harris,’ he said. ‘I can read.’