Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Adulthood (07/30/09)
By Deborah Riall
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That’s my Momma over there. See? Playin’ volleyball with those men? Yeah, that’s th’ one – blue jean shorts and yellow top. Well, she’s nice, and she laughs a lot – ‘specially when that Josh Turner’s around. We have a lot of fun when it’s just her and me. Like last week when we went fishin’ at Lake Murvall. I caught a whopper – it was so big I stumbled when I reeled it in and hit Momma right in th’ backside with it. We just sat down on th’ bank and laughed and laughed about that one. But Momma’s different when we get home. She’s all serious and stuff and makes me mind my p’s and q’s real good around Uncle Bill and Aunt Jill.
Sometimes, late at night, I hear her cryin’ in her bedroom for no reason in particular. I asked my Uncle Bill about it one day. He said not to mind too much – that Momma’s just worried ‘bout bills and gettin’ a job since my Daddy took off and Momma lost her job at th’ Rexall. I said I figured Momma ought to just ask Jesus to help us out. Uncle Bill just gave me one of those smiles grownups always give us kids when we’re right and told me I’d understand when I grew up. Shoot – if growin’ up means Jesus don’t help any more, then I’m not in a real big hurry to get there.
Uncle Bill works most days at the sawmill, when there’s work. He has a funny way about him – likes to get off by himself when he’s home. I’m not supposed to bother him, but I must admit I spied on him once while he was putterin’ out in his shed. Found out he keeps some beer in one of those little refrigerators that sit under the counter. He was sittin’ there starin’ at a bunch of pictures of people I don’t know. Most of ‘em had some kind of army uniform on and they were all rumpled and dirty. He kept pullin’ beers out of that refrigerator and pickin’ up one picture after another. Sometimes he’d even talk to th’ pictures, but I couldn’t make out what he said. I could have swore I saw a tear on his cheek, but that can’t be. He always says men don’t cry. I don’t quite understand that one. I figure if Jesus wept then it’s okay for me to cry every once in awhile, too.
Aunt Jill, well she’s real particular about things. I swear it takes her about an hour to get ready to go to the store. And I don’t think I’ve ever seen a speck of dust last more than a minute since me and Momma moved in with her and Uncle Bill. Uncle Bill’s always jokin’ around with her – drives Aunt Jill up th’ wall. One day he went into th’ kitchen while she was at th’ store and moved everything around. I mean everything! The spoons were where the knives should be and the pots and pans were on top of the dishwasher. Well Aunt Jill, she was hoppin’ mad. Took her months to get everything back to normal – why we even had to use paper plates until she finally found the real ones up on the top shelf where her company dishes used to be. Lord knows where the good china was! Uncle Bill just laughed and said a little change just shakes things up and makes life interestin’. Me? I just think if she’d stop worryin’ about things bein’ in order and let Jesus worry about all that, well she’d be a lot happier and maybe not get mad at Uncle Bill so much.
Uncle Bill says it’s a rich man’s world, but I can’t for th’ life of me see how come. I see Old Man Carter struttin’ down th’ street every day in his nice suit with his fancy women. I swear I never seen that man smile – not once! And mean? Whew! All th’ kids go runnin’ when they see him comin’ cause they know he’ll yell at ‘em if they get too loud. I told Momma one day that if Old Man Carter had someone who really loved him, like Jesus, instead of those fancy women he runs around with, he might be a little happier. She said he was too busy makin’ money to go to church, and everyone’s too scared of him to talk to him about it. But if Mr. Carter was happy, then maybe he’d smile a little. And ya know? It’s real hard to be mean when you’re really smilin’.
Like I say, I don’t know much ‘bout bein’ a grown-up. But this much I do know – if I gotta be like th’ ones I know, then I don’t want any of that. Yessir, I’ll just stay 9 years 7 months old ‘til th’ good Lord comes and gets me.
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