I am still in my sick bed, but writing gave me a little escape. While I was editing this piece, I didn’t think about my stuffy nose or headache for twenty minutes. The writing is good when time, your environment, and even your body all separate from your creative brain and leave it be. This feeling is what keeps me coming back.
Lots of little additions in red throughout. I really like the last paragraph the best so far. Compare this version with the first version if you’d like to see the evolution. Next I have to decide if I want them to take trip to Goodwill? Should Aunt Cissy come along? Not sure yet. Aunt Cissy does sound like fun though. And who in the heck is Paul Paul that came to pick up this truck? I’ll have to wait and see…
Here’s the newest version:
The old red truck smelled of wood chips and Castor oil. The door creaked like a wild cat howling each time you opened and shut it. There was no quiet way to enter inside it. The past always caught me in the act of looking for it. Inside, my feet could barely touch the pedals, and I would turn the radio dial, just to hear the click, click, click. No music. The floorboards caked with mud and clay made me search for footprints. I was an archaeologist in that truck. I’d stare at the one seatbelt buckle left for fingerprints. It stung my nose with the smell of oil and the hardening of everything inside it. Sometimes, I swore I could almost make out a boot print near the gas pedal. Other days, it was the most empty place I’d ever sat.
Mama let that Chevy sit and die in our side yard for five years. Red color slowly changing from ruby to rust in the salt air of the Coastal Plain.
Then one afternoon, walking home from school, it wasn’t there. A big bald spot staring back at me. I went running down the middle of the gravel road, little rocks jutting against the sole’s of my Keds. For once, I wasn’t conscious of my body holding me back; my feet flew.
“He come home to get it?” I shouted before the door could even slam behind me.
Mama was in the kitchen, looking out the window at the empty space. “Are you out your mind? I had Paul Paul come pick it up.” She carefully placed a newly dried plate on the counter. “Bout time.” She added without looking up, but I seen how hard she swallowed. She missed him, too. Although, it was silly for me to say I missed somebody that I could barely remember, but you can. I’m here to tell you.
I pulled the chair out from the little kitchen table. Mama got those as a hand-me-down from Aunt Cissy, and I never liked them. They moaned each time I sat in them, threatening to fall out from under me.
“How was school?” she asked. I guess we were just going to keep on pretending everything was alright, which was fine. At that point in my life, I didn’t know there was any other way, so I picked pretending right back up along with her.
“Boyd Lee got caught flicking boogers on the back of people’s heads. You should have seen Ms. Bowen’s face when she caught him in the act. She sucked her breath in so hard, I thought she might pass out. Know what she made him do as punishment?”
“What?” Mama was interested now. She used to be a school teacher until the children became too much for her to handle. Now she sells Mary Kay from home. Mama isn’t what anyone would call beautiful, but she can do herself up like a painting. It’s a creation, what she can make.
“She made him go up to all the sixth grade boys and girls and tell them what he’s been doing. I thought he would blow up from embarrassment, and all us watching from the windows.”
“That’s horrible,” Mama said, yet her voice didn’t believe her words.
“It’s not so horrible if you’ve been finding boogers in your hair!” I tried to sound mad like Ms. Bowen had. Mama looked up at me in surprise because I never yelled at her, or to her. I pounded my fist on the table to try and play the part. Then, I fell onto the floor in a conniption[mlr1] of giggles. I could feel Mama smiling.
“Honey, get up now. You can’t be acting a fool like this around anyone else.” Even though she knew I didn’t.
I liked it under that table though. I searched for some kind of carving from him, my daddy. Nothing under there though except some gum I stuck there once and waited to be caught for.
I sat back in that groaning, moaning chair. “I miss the truck.”
“Nothing to miss, Honey. Just a pile of parts. I got money for them parts.” I hadn’t noticed the wad of cash bundled by her left hand. “I thought we’d go into town. Buy you new shoes.”
“Sure.” I tried to sound excited, but I knew why we were buying shoes. It wasn’t just because I needed them. It was because they were the only thing in town that we could buy in my size. Shoes, hats, and jewelry, and Mama said a seven-year-old didn’t need jewelry. So, shoes it was.
Aunt Cissy had the internet at her house in Cedar Park, and she would sit there with me, waiting for certain pictures to pop up and usually ordered whatever I wanted. Aunt Cissy wore these great cat eye glasses, and she would peer over them, taking in the computer screen like we were doing the most important detective work known to man.
“Honey, we are going to find you an Easter dress. Don’t you worry.” She would click and click that mouse until she did too.
Of course, I ended up looking like Humpty Dumpty wearing an Easter egg, but I almost felt good.
I felt my best when Mama let me wear my overalls. Overalls, my thick brown hair pulled back, and no shoes squeezing my feet. I’d go like that out into the garden and pull weed after weed. Mama had the green thumb, but I could weed like the dickens. I did a lot of good thinking out there, and I wasn’t aware of my body, just my breathing and the dirt. Dirt is what’s missing for children now days. ADHD and hyperactivity. I say put them out in the dirt for a few hours and see if they don’t come back calmed down. [mlr2]
I thought about my future as I ripped roots from the earth. That’s a satisfying pull. I was going to be a famous singer even though I’d never sang in front of a crowd or anyone. I could sing though. I was a fat girl that could sing. This fact was the only reason I could stand myself. I thought my largeness contributed to my ability to sing, so I was slightly thankful for it. At least I didn’t know what I’d be without my big body. I would sing out there with dirt on my knees, all kinds of songs. Mama listened to KATY country, and I could remember all the words to a song after I heard it once. Dolly Parton was one of my favorites, but I secretly liked the black music the best. They brought out something deep down in me, something that scared me when it came out.