Hello, everyone. It's been a very LONG time since I last wrote, let alone posted anything. I've recently started watching The Big Bang Theory, and it's gotten me back in the mood to write.
Hope you all enjoy!
The Psychic Vortex Continuum
When Penny was a young girl, barely four, she learned about ESP. That's when she really started to know that there were things out there that couldn't be explained by man or logic. She knew; she'd asked a logical man after it happened, and all he'd done was shrug his shoulders.
Not for the first time, nor for the last, she was living at her grandparent's farm in southwest Nebraska. The growing season was in full swing. Her mother helped her grandmother in the house, and her father was back in Omaha being an "ignorant ass," as her mother liked to say. She'd given him an ultimatum—which Penny, in all of her four-year-old wisdom, understood as "we're staying with Mamaw and Pap until you tell me you're sorry." This time her father had to be sorry he drank.
Penny spent most of her days with her Pap, working in the fields. She was Chief Inspector of the Winter Wheat; she had to look at every grain, be sure it didn't have any black spots in it, and make sure not to bother Pap while he was driving. Her older brother and sister, however, spent their days in school. Tammy, Penny's sister, was in 8th grade, had a boyfriend, and talked on the phone a lot. Johnny, their brother, was ten and stupid. (In Penny and Tammy's opinion, though Tammy would never admit to agreeing with a four-year-old.)
Penny remembered clearly that it was Spring Break. Tammy had done nothing but talk on the phone with her boyfriend and friends, while Johnny had sulked around the house, being a general "nuisance" if you were a grown up, and a general "poopy head" if you were Penny.
Penny walked into the living room, toting Priscilla-Barbie, and saw Johnny trying to be sneaky, by watching people out of the window. He was wearing his swimming trunks and shoes.
Johnny jumped, turned around, and shushed her. "Do you have to yell?"
"I'm not yellin'!" In truth, Penny was aware that everyone thought she yelled instead of spoke. Her mama just said she talked loud, and needed to learn to talk softer.
"Well stop talkin' loud then!"
"You didn't answer my question." Penny said, doing a dramatic whisper, which could probably still be heard by Tammy, who was currently blasting U2's newest album. Penny always liked when "Where the Streets Have No Name" came on.
"I'm goin' swimmin'."
Penny's left eyebrow rose, and her mouth scrunched up. "Oh no you're not! Mama said we can't go swimmin' unless someone takes us, and no one's offered. I'da known, cause I'd be wearing my suit too. You can't go swimming by yourself, and if you try, I'm tellin' Mama."
Johnny's mouth got really serious, and his eyes looked like they were on fire. Penny wondered if she should have started running first. Actually, she probably should have just been a tattle-tale, no matter that Tammy and Johnny wouldn't speak to her if she did. It always made her laugh. Like them not speaking to her was a bad thing.
Johnny didn't push her, like he normally would have. He simply grabbed her Barbie out of her hand, put one grubby boy fist around her legs, and the other around her hair. "I'll kill her."
"But that's Priscilla-Barbie!"
"They're all Barbies!"
"They can't all be Barbie. That's like all of us bein' Penny! Can't everybody be Penny! If I start callin' 'em all Barbie, they'll be confused!"
"You are so weird."
"Whatever! I'll kill Priscilla!"
"That's not Priscilla! Priscilla's the rocker! That's Priscilla-Barbie! She's the astranut! You can't kill an astranut."
"It's astronaut, dork."
"I'm gonna tell Mama!"
Johnny just started to pull his fists apart.
"Don't hurt her! Please! I won't say anything! Go swimmin', I don't care! Just give me Priscilla-Barbie."
Johnny dropped Priscilla-Barbie to the ground, stamped on her for good measure, and ran out the door.
"Stupid boys. Priscilla-Barbie, are you okay?"
As Penny made sure Priscilla-Barbie's head was still firmly attached to her neck, she peaked out the door, watching Johnny's lithe form fade down the dirt road, straight for the creek.
"I hope Mama finds out. She's gonna be so mad, she'll wallop him good."
Penny knew that there mother had few rules. Do everything you're told without having to be told twice. Do your homework before playing (that was for Tammy and Johnny, but Penny always asked for homework from Pap). And don't go to the creek without an adult.
She never understood why. Tammy rolled her eyes and walked away without answering. Johnny said it was because Mama was mean, and hated them like she hated Daddy. At this point, Penny usually reminded him that all Daddy had to do was kiss Mama and say he was sorry, and she'd love him again. Johnny usually pushed her down after that reminder though.
Years later, when she was old enough, she finally understood. It was irrigation season for the wheat. The water ran off into the creek, filling beyond what its tiny banks could hold. The crop dusting chemicals mixed into the water to create a toxic brew for those foolish enough to go in. And if you didn't drown from the swift and deep current, or die from the chemicals, the snakes were sure to kill you.
Penny, at four, didn't know any of this. She just knew her brother needed his "butt beat" as her Pap would say.
Penny stomped into the kitchen, and sat down at the table, still trying to comfort a traumatized Priscilla-Barbie.
Penny's mother turned to look at her daughter. Rather than greeting her as she usually would, she just stared, and looked at her.
"I didn't do anything. I swear," was Penny's first reaction.
Her mother dropped the plate she had been drying and ran out of the back door, following Johnny's earlier path. Her Mama was screaming her brother's name.
Penny sat still for a minute, looked at the broken glass on the floor, and took action.
She took all of her Barbies to the attic to hide. It didn't matter when she said, Johnny was gonna kill 'em all.
Her brother got out of the hospital a week later, suffering from exposure to chemicals and nearly drowning. She ended up burying 14 Barbies before all was said and done. He hadn't even got a walloping, like he should have.
They moved back to Omaha after school let out, as nearly losing his son had made Penny's father less of an ignorant ass. At least for about six months, and then Mama gave him another ultimatum.
Johnny spent his summer working off his "dept to society" as their mother put it—he owed Penny 14 Barbies, as she hadn't said a word about him going swimming.
Penny spent a week without any Barbies because she hadn't said a word about him going swimming.
Tammy thought they were both losers, and said so on many occasions.
Penny was sitting next to Sheldon on Anything Can Happen Thursday, eating Thai food and watching a documentary on wheat.
"Wow. I never realized that wheat was such a hardy crop," Howard muttered, truly enthralled by the documentary.
"Oh yeah. Winter wheat is one of the few crops that is planted in the fall and harvested in summer. It actually sprouts before the freezes being, but it sits dormant until spring. In fact, snow cover can help, because it creates a protective barrier from the colder surface temperatures. Hey, did you know winter wheat has a higher number of gluten protein that other wheat?"
Penny stopped talking as she noticed everyone staring at her like Sheldon had become Jeff Dunham, and they wanted to call her Peanut. She fidgeted a little, and said softly, "I was Chief Inspector of the Winter Wheat one year."
They all nodded and went on, as if that explained everything. And to Penny, it did.