Family Owned

Part IV: Listening to the Birds

Mockingbird|Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

Buddy’s presence left a foul taste in Starla’s mouth. Who was he to come around barking orders after being missing-in-action for four days? Being the middle child has its advantages, but being the woman middle child does not. Their father left the business to them, however, he listed Buddy as the primary overseer.

Buddy, the only one out of the three of them who was the most irresponsible — if he had his way, he’d relieve himself of his duties, but he felt the old man’s spirit would toss and turn in its grave if he did. Starla had enough of his arrogance and lack of dependability.

“Who does he think he is? Those mushrooms don’t look bad at all. Like I said, I think they give the place a bit of character. What do you think, Chloe?”

Chloe is too busy focusing on the mockingbird that flew above them at that moment and settled on the roof of the B & B. She listens to it as it mocks the other birds around them — its melody much more hypnotic.

“I like a bit of character. They look good now, Auntie Star, but what’ll we do when they start turning that ungodly brown and growing bigger than normal, then breaking off into mushy pieces?”

The kid had a point. Those mushrooms did wonders for the aesthetic appeal of the lawn now, but what about later?

What comes along with their aging?

“You know what, Chloe? You’ve got a point. We better have your daddy pull them up as soon as he comes by today. I’ll schedule an additional lawn treatment with Stephan next week — see if there’s anything we can do about them.”

“I didn’t mean to just get rid of them. I only want to know, what would we do then? Remember when that cancer started eating away at mommy’s lungs and daddy couldn’t care for her anymore? He brought someone to care for her directly to her. Those last few months were an improvement because someone who was trained cared enough to make them so. Can’t we find a way to treat them when they age?”

Starla finds herself at a loss for words. Her niece, this fifteen-year-old still struggling with grief, is sharing her wisdom. She knows not what to do but she knows what they shouldn’t do. Starla has an idea that’ll solve their Buddy-the-perfectionist problems.

The mockingbird sings its tune louder. Its beak trembling with every tone. They sit and they listen. They sit and they grow.


“Chloe, I do believe I’ve got an idea about those mushrooms but I won’t pursue it this weekend. Nope. We’ll start fresh on them Monday morning. You and me. How you feel about that?”

Chloe leans into the melody of the birdsong, taps her feet lightly on the wooden deck, and smiles at her aunt with inquiring eyes.

“I’d like that, Aunt Star. I really would.”

Originally published via A Cornered Gurl on Medium.

Part I, Part II, and Part III


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