Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Gone Fishing (02/01/07)
By Beth Muehlhausen
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“My lands, honey chile, whats y’all wuh-reed ‘bout? Doan cha know … when y’alls feelin’ in da dumps, its time ta go fishun?”
Daisy peered over one shoulder to see if I was listening, then turned back to face the clothesline. “Now hear me chile, that doan mean ya hasta go fishun in da wadder. No siree. Not if ya doan like dem wiggly ni-crawlers ‘n crickets. Ya just hasta go off an do somethun sorta unexpected … crazy-like.”
I watched Daisy’s weathered brown hands pick up each laundered diaper, shake its wrinkles, and hang it to dry. The whites of her brown eyes flashed like beacons above round, taught cheeks, shiny with sweat.
“So Daisy, what did you do at my age … when friends ignored you … when you felt alone?” I dug my bare toe in the loose dirt along the edge of the vegetable garden and waited for a Daisy-sized dose of wisdom.
Daisy chuckled, and her loose gingham dress began to shake like a quivery tent. “Ah chile … Lordy! So y’alls askin’ me ta come clean ‘bout how I done gone fishun!”
I didn’t know quite what to think. I’d come outside to talk about my discouragement and now Daisy was laughing. “What are you saying, Daisy?”
The massive woman turned and bent down with her hands on her knees. Her dark, round face full of white teeth jabbered directly into mine. “Less set us down in da shade - on da poach swing maybe - ‘n I’ll tell ya ‘bout MY kind o’ fishun. Fishun fo’ hope, chile.”
We ambled toward the house, then up the steps onto the wide porch where a breeze swept away the heavy humidity. The porch swing groaned under Daisy’s weight; she fanned herself with her straw hat. I waited, knowing I couldn’t rush Daisy any more than I could push the sun across the sky. She’d talk in her own time.
“So y’alls not so happy, eh? Sorta empty like, right ‘ere?” Daisy grimaced in mock pain and clutched her full bosom with rigid fingers.
“Well, you know all about me, Daisy. Now tell me about sometime when you went fishing – please?”
Daisy threw her head back, cackled like an old hen, and rocked the swing until the chains squealed in protest. “Ah yessir chile, dat’s da reeee-son us is sittin’ here.”
I waited maybe several minutes and then looked at her expectantly. “Daisy?”
She must have been ready. “Alrighty den. Dare wuz uh time when I wuz feelin’ like nobody done loved me much … like I had nuthin’ ‘n nobody ta live for. So one day, I sez ta my own self, “Daisy gurl, yous goin’ on uh ad-ven-shur ta find sum-thun … .”
She stared at the ceiling of the porch with glazed eyes.
“Doan rush me, chile.” She stopped swinging, crossed her feet and carefully placed her folded hands in her lap.
“Well, I tole ma mammy ‘n pappy I was goin’ fishun’ with da boys … but … I really snuck up in da attic where Da Missus put her fine, fine, fine dresses in dem big trunks … ‘an I put on dem dresses, like as if dey was my own. Yes I did. I went fishun’ up dare in da attic, all by my lone self, an that’s where I caught hold of sum-thun.”
“You what? You caught something? In the attic?”
Daisy closed her eyes. “Yes chile, I did … I caught uh dream dat day … spinnin’ round ‘n round in dem dresses, wid dem bonnets ‘n shawls … I found uh diff’runt me.”
I tried to imagine a slender, young Daisy secretly prancing in the shadowy attic, dressed in lacy finery.
“See, dat day I decidud I was spesh-ul all right … I felt spesh–ul wid dem clothes on me … but I stayed spesh-ul when I took ‘em off. I think it was ‘cuz o' somethin’ scratchin’ away in ma heart … da Lawd, He tole me right den and dare … I was spesh-ul wid-out dem dresses. I was spesh-ul ‘cause He … He loved me.”
Daisy wiped a single trickle from her eye and shooed me off the porch with a flick of her hand. “Now g’on, chile, g’on and do yer fishun somewheres … an ole’ Daisy’ll be prayin’ fer ya’all ta catch sumthin’… sumthin’ big, like wha’ da Lawd done gave ta me.”
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