My Country's Fame

A morning breeze swept through a window, spreading the sweet scent of summer into the old, musty house. The smell of wild flowers tickled the residents' noses, and the strong figure of Euphemia Boyd, otherwise known as Effie, began to stir. She got up with no hesitation, having always been a morning person, and stumbled over to the washroom.
She was in good shape, even having birthed five daughters. Many still considered her young and as playful as her own children, but Effie still had the wise, motherly comfort within her as well.
A year had passed since her husband's death, and life got harder for her and her family. But she still had a smile on her face every morning. She worked twice as hard to keep her family together, and was able to keep the farm in good condition. It was the only thing they had left. Effie would never think of leaving it for the big city in a million years.
Effie got dressed in her usual plain, linen skirt and white shirt. She tied an old, worn apron around her waist, grabbed her bonnet and walked downstairs to start breakfast.
The ancient stairs creaked under her weight, and she hoped that it wouldn't wake up her children. Dawn had barely risen, but the scent of morning was well into her home. She reached the snug, comfy kitchen and started a fire in the blackened hearth. She had a modern stove to use, but Effie grew up using a hearth, and she would use it until she died. She removed a sack of flour, a couple of eggs, yeast, and water from the pantry and took out some bowls from the cupboards. The constant clanging of bowls and other utensils truly showed that this was just another summer morning.

Iris could smell the sweet aroma of baked bread enter her room. It made her feel warm inside, to know that her mother was downstairs beginning the day full of chores. But unlike other girls, Iris loved her chores. She loved living on the farm and she would never leave it. Never in her whole life. Without even rubbing night away from her eyes, she woke up and saw that golden streaks of light filled her room. Her window was open, mixing the smell of home with the smell of summer together. A smile crossed her face and she brushed her auburn hair from her face.
A sudden squeal caused her to turn abruptly to her open bedroom door. Doors were never closed in the Boyd farm during the summers. Neither were windows. If they were, everyone would be trapped in inescapable heat.
Iris ran out into the hallway and walked to her sisters' room. She poked her head into the room to see her twin sisters jumping on a bed and tugging at an old, dirty teddy bear. "Poppy! Daisy!" Iris yelled. "It's mornin' for God's sake! Keep it down. Mama will hear you." Poppy and Daisy's auburn heads turned to their sister.
"She won't share!" they said simultaneously, pointing to each other.
"I don't care if none of y'all share," Iris replied hotly. "Olive and Heather's still sleepin' an' you better shut your mouths before I tell Mama on you." Both girls pouted and dropped the plush bear they were fighting over.
"Mama would never say that to us," Daisy said, crossing her arms. "She'll let us do whatever we want."
"Oh, so she'll let ya beat each other up until both of you are dead? I doubt it, Day." Iris smiled, seeing that Daisy was loosening up on her. The twins always felt better if people used their nicknames instead of their real ones. Daisy was called 'Day,' and Poppy was called 'Po.' Iris used the names the most, having had trouble reading and saying things when she was little. She stuttered a lot and had trouble reading, but Mama stayed through and through with her. She didn't let Iris give up until she could read just as good as any kid.
"All right, so we stopped," added Poppy. "Might as well wake up Ollie and Hay."
"Naw, let Olive and Heather sleep a bit," Iris answered. "They were out late last night catchin' fire flies with Mama." She turned around and motioned for her younger sisters to follow her. "C'mon. I smell breakfast." The girls giggled.
"We smell it too," Daisy and Poppy chimed together. "Mama's making her special raisin bread, ain't she?"
"Think so," replied Iris. "Sure smells like it." The girls walked downstairs, still in the nightclothes, wondering if Mama would scold them again.
The ancient staircase creaked beneath their bare feet as the girls made their way down to the kitchen. Iris let the twins go first. They were the youngest of the group and deserved to have first pick on the breakfast goodies Mama made. Iris was the oldest, having to bear most of the responsibilities on her dainty shoulders. Second oldest was Heather, otherwise known as 'Hay,' for being the only daughter of Effie Boyd to have golden hair. All the others were blessed with auburn heads. In the middle was Olive or Ollie. She was the quietest of all the girls, but her silence didn't mean weakness. The girl fell off a horse nearly twenty times in a row and still got up on her feet. "G'mornin'," came a soft voice in the kitchen. Iris and the twins paused a moment at the entrance. Their eyes followed Mama's figure out of the door.
"Where are ya goin'?" Iris called.
"Jus' checkin' on them chickens, dear. I'll be back. Don't worry. Breakfast ain't ready yet, so go along now and wake up your sisters," Mama called from outside. Iris shrugged her shoulders and turned to Daisy and Poppy.
"You heard her. Let's get to wakin'!" With a laugh or two, the girls ran back up the stairs to wake up Olive and Heather.
"Here," Iris said, pushing Daisy and Poppy into Heather's room. "You guys wake up Hay. I'll wake up Ollie." The twins nodded and sneaked into the room, trying to be as quiet as ever. Iris watched them for less than a second and smiled, then went down the hallway to Ollie's room.
The family cat, Opal, squeezed between Iris' feet as she walked past. "Stop that," Iris said, reaching down to pick up Opal. "It tickles." She turned around and set the cat on the wooden floor again before poking her head in Ollie's room. "Olive," Iris sang. "Time to wake up." No response came, and Iris furrowed her eyebrows. She peered over at her sister's bed and found it empty, the wrinkled spot in the sheets still present on the bed. "Ollie, where are you? Don't play games on me."
A sudden blast of cooler air caused Iris to turn to the two windows in Olive's room. One was wide open, and the white curtains flowed around it like a flag in the wind. With a sigh, Iris leaned out of the old window, and looked out into the front yard. No Olive. "Olive! Ya out here?" she yelled. A white figure caught her eye, and Iris turned sharply to her left. Sitting on the canopy over the front porch sat her eight-year-old sister, Olive. Her face was pale and still, her nose pointed to the rising sun. "Ollie? What are you doin' out there?" Olive's blue eyes blinked, and she slowly turned to her sister who leaned out of her window, baffled and confused.
"Watching," Olive answered softly, almost at a whisper.
"Watchin' what?"
"The sun," she replied simply.
"What about the sun?"
"Can't you see it Iris? How it's golden and orange, maybe even a little red. See how it glows? Haven't you ever watched it?"
"No. Am I supposed to?" Iris chuckled.
"It wasn't meant to be funny. I meant it."
"Sorry, Ollie. I didn't mean nothin'. I just didn't see it that way before. You wanna get down there and back into the house to eat now? Mama says breakfast is almost ready."
"Okay." Iris rested her elbows on the ledge of the window and propped her chin in her hands. She watched with a smile on her face as Olive got up feebly on her feet. Holding her arms out for balance, Olive crawled through her window and stood proudly on the floor again.
"How did your firefly catchin' go?" Iris asked as she and her sister made their way towards the kitchen.
"It woulda been better," Olive replied glumly. "If mine didn't die."
"How?"
"I dunno. I had fun catchin' them with Hay and Mama, but when I brought them into the house, they died. I wanted to keep them in a jar to be sort of like a lantern for me in the night if I wanted to read while sitting on the roof over the porch. But their dead."
"We'll catch some more later," Iris replied joyfully. "Did Hay's live?"
"I think so. They coulda died overnight."
"Let's go check then. Po and Day are wakin' her up."