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Brudder and Me
by Aileen Ridings Bennett

If I stare at him long enough, he'll wake up, I think, putting my face close to his in the shadowed room. I glance out the window as the arms of the giant oak tree swish across the darkened window pane. I have to use the toilet, visualizing the dusty path to it and the back door squeaking as I open it, my bare feet hating the feel of the cold wooden porch.

I am afraid of the dark.

He opens his eyes and stares back at me. "No," he whispers, "I'm not going with you."

"Please, please," I beg.

He throws back the cover, calling me a scaredy cat as he hastily makes his way through the house to the kitchen door. I am right behind him.

There is no moon, the sky pitch black, as we make our way along the dirt path. He is grumbling, but I dare not say anything back, the urge to go growing stronger with each step. He stands aside as I unlatch the wooden door.

"Hurry," he says, "and don't step on Henry."

I am not only afraid of the dark, but am terrified of the huge bullfrog that claims the outside toilet as his domain. His loud croak tells me he's near as I hurriedly sit down and do my business. As my eyes adjust to the dark, I see Henry in the corner, his hooded eyes as big as saucers. In one giant leap, I am out the door again.

"This is the last time I'm coming out here with you," he declares as we make our way back up the path to the kitchen door. He says the same thing each time, but I know if I stare at him long enough, he'll wake up.

After all, he's my brudder, and I know he will always be there when I'm afraid of the dark.


AILEEN RIDINGS BENNETT confirms in her writing style she is a dyed-in-the-wool Southerner. Born in a small town in Tennessee, she moved to Oak Ridge, Tennessee, growing up in a "strange and secret town and era." Aileen has four children, two daughters and two sons, and an engineer husband, who was transferred often, the family having the opportunity to travel and live in many parts of the country. Life, Love and Laughter, a column she carried with her, was published in newspapers wherever she lived, being quickly picked up by surrounding cities.

Aileen studied creative writing under Arizola Magnenat, a published author and journalist. When her husband retired from his company in Atlanta, Georgia, the couple decided to return to Oak Ridge. "Our placemats dwindled to two," she says, giving her time to write her first novel, The Annie Chase Story. Aileen pursues other writing interests, such as free-lance essays and articles and writing for her beloved Oak Ridge High School alumni.

To preorder The Annie Chase Story, ISBN:1-933016-31-0, Behler Publications (October 2005), please visit www.behlerpublications.com.

Visit Bennett's Blog at: Life, Love and Laughter Blog.


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