Often it feels like the person who wrote some of my stories and poems is someone else. I have so little time for writing right now, and when I do have a small segment of time, I’m working on my postpartum storytelling project, not poetry or fiction. However, I just had a few pieces published. Here’s one of them, a flash fiction piece:
“Sit down, girl.” Aunt Penny tapped the rocking chair. “And I’ll tell you about growing up with your daddy.”
I sat down, wary of my Aunt as I was wary of all my Daddy’s people. They smoked Marlboro Reds, drank bourbon, let dogs run wild everywhere, and didn’t pay attention to children.
“Your daddy wasn’t always like he is, you know.” Aunt Penny let a long drag of her cigarette blow like a straight railroad track out in front of her.
“I don’t care,” I said and surprised myself.
She burst out laughing but it sounded more like a cough. “Don’t lie, girl.”
She stared out into her front yard. I knew she was proud of it, but it wasn’t anything—more dirt than grass and cheap statues she bought from yard sales, but she owned it. The only Hale to own anything. This made her wise in their eyes. “Your daddy took care of me, and I won’t never forget it. He always made sure all us kids had at least one gift on Christmas even if it was a doll made from a sock. We didn’t care. It was something to love on.” She took another long drag, flicked her ashes hard. She stared at my face, but I wouldn’t look at her. Everyone said I looked like him. Well, I had his eyes at least. Frost blue. “Shit, maybe you don’t care.”
I turned then and looked sharp at her. “Maybe not.”
We rocked in her old chairs for a few minutes. No words passed between us.
“He ain’t a good man anymore. I know that.” She’d put her cigarette out and her words weren’t glazed with anything but the truth. “You’ll learn that shit happens to people, and they change and you just love them for who they use to be. There’s a lot of that in this family.”
I pulled my hair up into a scraggly bun and made her think that I was ignoring her, but then I said, “What do you do when you don’t know who somebody use to be?”
Her face cracked a little then. I saw what her eyes might look like without all the wrinkles around them. “You listen to me, girl. You listen to me.”