Well, it happened. I met Blue MacKenzie.
Heart Threads got two more blankets finished and Mama said we’d better get up the hill before Easter, so we piled into the truck and went. We dropped soup off to the Eddens at their place, they have a nine kids and Mrs. Eddens is always worn-out from looking after them. Mr. Eddens is a large animal veterinarian—that means he works on large farm animals, not that he’s a large veterinarian!—but up in the mountains he gets as many chickens for his doctoring as he does money, Mama says. Lots of folks let their dogs and cats go without shots or medicine—which Mama thinks is a disgrace—but the farmers need healthy cows and pigs, so they call Dr. Eddens if one of them gets sick. If they can’t pay money, they try to trade with chickens or eggs or honey or firewood.
Anyway, the Eddens aren’t as poor as the Benjamins, but Mama like Mrs. Eddens and knows she can always use an extra something for the table.
“But you hold on to your blankets, Dell,” she told me. “I know your generous heart, but there’s folks worse off than the Eddens family and that’s who you’re knitting for. Maybe you can give one to Mrs. Howarth, she’d appreciate it with her old bones. I bet they’re always chilly.”
So we visited with the Eddens, and then delivered a blanket and a lemon pie to Mrs. Howarth, and then stopped off at Abby Mae’s house. That’s where I met Blue.
She was tall and skinny as a post and had a bush of red hair hanging half-way down her back. It was the color of new pennies. Her eyes were blue as robin eggs and she had that white skin some redheads get, with tons of freckles. I’ve got freckles, too, but mostly across my nose. Blue had freckles almost the same color as her hair, and about as many as stars in the sky. I bet she could spend all day counting them, if she was ever bored!
Abby Mae introduced us and I can’t say I was all that cheerful about it because, Diary, Blue was hanging out with my BFF. I knew things might change once we moved away from the mountains and I couldn’t see Abby Mae as much, but it didn’t make me feel any better to be right.
Abby tried to get her guitar out and have us sing something together, but I told her I just didn’t have time to “lollygag around” and ran to ask Mama if we could leave. But instead, Mama turned to me and said, “Dell, the MacKenzies are staying with family right now, on account of Mr. MacKenzie losing his leg in the mine…”
“I know already,” I told her. I didn’t need to hear that story again!
Mama looked surprised. “Okay, then. I told Mrs. MacKenzie that we have an extra Heart Threads blanket with us today and that she can have it. Would you please bring it in from the truck?”
I couldn’t believe it. Mama was giving away my blanket, without even asking who I wanted to have it! I started to say something, but Mama gave me a hard look so I shut up and got the blanket. Mrs. MacKenzie was all grateful about it and even cried a little. Abby Mae and Blue stood in the doorway and watched. Abby Mae was making that face, the one where she looks like a baby deer who’s lost its mom. For a second, I felt bad.
Mama looked at them, then at me, and got up from her chair. She said goodbye to Abby Mae’s mom and Mrs. MacKenzie. As she passed Abby Mae and Blue, she said, “I hope you come and see us real soon, Abby, honey—and bring your friend along.”
Abby Mae’s face lit up. Blue smiled and said, “thank you” to my mom. But when I followed Mama out and passed them, Abby pinched the sleeve of my sweater.
“You’re being stupid,” she whispered, “remember?”
I remembered the last time she told me that, when she said I was her best friend and shouldn’t be jealous.
I felt bad again, but I didn’t know what to say. But Mama did, and she said plenty to me on our way back down about manners and gratitude. It sure is hard knowing what to do sometimes, Diary!