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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Abundance (06/08/06)

TITLE: Through a Child's Eyes
By Gini Branch


Kim climbed up the steep riverbank balancing the water tin on her hip. I’d tag along with her most of the time. She trekked there early every morning to get the water for the day. That was her job. Mama would be waiting for her, so she had to hurry. Once the fire in the oven started, Mama didn’t want to waste any of it waiting for the water.

We lived, not in Southeast Asia, but in southeast Kentucky. Kim went to school regularly, when she could. When Daddy’d let her. He believed she should learn good woman’s work first. That meant fetching the water, watching her baby sisters, there were six then and another on the way, and chopping the weeds in the garden patch. Daily. Cooking, cleaning and scrubbing rounded the list of her chores. “She’d be a fine wife one of these days.” he’d say.

The plowing was man’s work, so our elder brother would come down the hill with his old tractor and turned the ground up for us. He’d married and got three boys of his own. He was doing right well, with his own place and a tractor, after he’d gotten a job down at the mill. It’s was dirty, but it paid good. His wife turned 17 last month. She came to her birthday party in her favorite maternity dress, filling it out already. She said she was seven months along now, and beamed with pride at her delicate condition.

That’s the part of growing up in the hills I remember. Something happened with Daddy and we all had to leave. It was hard. The social workers came and took Kim and me to some people’s house. We found out we had to live there. Mama and the rest ended up in town somewhere. We lost track of them after we got moved the third or fourth time. We told them Daddy hadn’t done nothing wrong, but they just kept acting like he did. I understood later what they meant, but back then it didn’t make sense. Never heard from my brother again either.

Sounds pretty bad when you tell it like that, but it wasn’t all bad, really. We had good times together, too. The whole bunch of us would get together at Gramma’s. She wasn’t anybodies gramma that I could tell, but we all called her that. I think she was Daddy’s aunt or something. Not sure how that went. Anyhow, we’d all bring something to eat. Generally, we’d get the wash tub out, put a big old oven rack over it, and cook some chicken or something on it. Like grilling, only cheaper. The gardens were coming in so we’d have corn and cabbage, butter beans sometimes. Gramma always made blueberry buckle. It’s only time we ever had it. Around the fourth of July, must have been when we went to her place. She had an old cow so there was cream, when the cow was fresh. The berries grew up the holler a ways and us kids always got sent to go pick them. It was fun. We’d run and see who could pick the most. Fingers got all purple, around our mouths too.

After supper, the grownups got out the fiddles and mandolins. They’d sing until they were hoarse. The ‘shine might’ve some influence on them, but nobody got mean. Not in our bunch. The folks up the way always had a fight break out, but we never did.

Those were some good times, hard living, but good times. I remember them most when I look out at the children playing in the yard. There are no chickens scratching around beside them, the pool is for swimming not fetching water, blueberries come in tiny plastic containers at the grocery. Catherine is our only child. School is boring according to her and her father thinks a proper education should include ballet and soccer.

I miss my sisters and big brother too, especially this time of year. Kim’s little girl graduated from high school last month. She sent us an announcement with her picture. She looks just like Kim did back then, except prettier. Mama died three years ago. Don’t know about Daddy. We were poor, dirt poor as they say, but we had something I can’t find now. The family is broken up for good. Got to wonder when I was better off.

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This article has been read 633 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Marilyn Schnepp 06/15/06
Abundance?.....Hmmmm? I am pondering - you had an abundance of love back then, and NOW you have an abundance of "things" today. That could be the point you are making in this story of memories back in the beautiful hills of Kentucky. Nicely told.
Ann Grover06/15/06
I was enchanted by this from the first word. I would love to see it in a novel... all the adventures and misadventures, happiness and sadness.

I loved the 'dialect,' too. Just needs a few spots tightened up aside from the deliberate dialect. Other than that, very visual, lots of feeling. Good writing.
dub W06/16/06
Visual and heart warming. Story jumped around a little, but I caught up. Truly the family was the abundance.
Virginia Gorg06/21/06
I enjoyed this, but have a question/comment. The dialect seemed to change in the last two paragraphs - was that intentional? Sort of a grown-up speech? I could almost see this woman sitting on her front porch retelling her story. Nicely done.
Tanya Dennis06/21/06
I'm having trouble figuring out where the abundance comes in here. The reader is led to believe there was some sort of abuse that required social services and legal protection, yet the end makes it seem like the character was happier there than with a husband who loves and provides for her and her child. You are a wonderful storyteller! Excellent voice. Very passionate. I'm just confused about the point of this piece. What reaction is desired from the reader? I'd like to see it fleshed out a little more. Keep writing! You have a gift.
I am glad that you said in the opening lines where this takes place as my mind immediately was going overseas to Africa or Asia. It is hard to see true abundance in a society of overindulgence but I think your story demonstrates clearly that traces of it can be found in life; however, all of it can be found in Jesus.