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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: fathers (06/06/05)

TITLE: Benny
By Joanne Malley



I remember one day bein’ outside when I was ‘round twelve. I be leanin’ against the porch column wit’ my eyes reachin’ for the sky. Ain’t nothin’ like bein’ alone sometimes wit’ my head in them clouds—just me and what I be thinkin’.

The weather was real warm—musta been sometime in June or somethin’ ‘cause my armpits be wet, and them bees were swarmin’ ‘round those honeysuckles.

Sometimes, though, what I be thinkin’ hurt real bad. But, gettin’ lost in a sky that looked like one of them water-colored paintin’s sure helped my sad memories fade away along wit’ them clouds that rolled by.

While I stood there waitin’ and waitin’, I be fiddlin’ wit’ Benny’s keys, throwin’ them high and playin’ catch. Benny was my Foster father at the time. I was waitin’ for him and my Foster mom, Bibi, to take me somewhere special. It was a s’prise.

Wit’ my head still in them clouds, I daydreamed, just like I did when I was little. My real daddy taught me to do so (he didn’t know it, though) every time he beat me ‘til I was spotted like the color of eggplant. Bleedin’, bruised and broken hearted, I’d run to my room and dream of mama or somethin’ happy. She died when I was seven. She was special.

My dog, Wags, would be in my room, cowerin’ in the corner, ‘fraid for his self. Whenever I come in cryin’, he licked my hurtin’ limbs. ‘Least he loved me. He helped to take mama’s place.

Then, some real nice lady…she come to our house and took me ‘an Wags away. I never did see daddy again.

Since I was nine, I been blessed. Benny and Bibi…they were real good foster parents. Benny would sometimes come in my room late at night an’ add a blanket to my bed when it be cold. Then, he’d kiss my forehead ‘an push a few strands of hair ‘way from my face. He’d make me cry happy tears, but I didn’t let him see, ‘cause my real father would hit me when I did. I ain’t never knew dads did good stuff like that ‘til I went an’ lived wit’ Benny.

He told me I was special ‘cause he chose to have me be part of his life. I really liked when we be together in the workshop makin’ and fixin’ stuff. Many times he gave me big hugs an’ told me I was the smartest kid he ever knew. He even said he wished I be his.

Me too.

However, while I lived wit’ them, I be feelin’ like a mismatched puzzle piece that didn’t really quite fit nowhere. I often wondered if their home was ever gonna be mine for keeps.

How I prayed it would.

Little did I know that day waitin’ on the porch, they was takin’ me to them fancy lawyers to make me theirs. Bibi sure wasn’t my mama, but she was real nice. That day was the first time I heard the word “son” said with warmth in a man’s voice. From that day on, I had me a real father.

I cried.

I let Benny see that time ‘cause I knew he’d never hurt me.

My life whizzed by since then. Benny and Bibi…they be long gone now. They took Jesus wit’ them in their hearts but also left Him here wit’ me. They left me pieces of them too. God knew what He was doin’ wit’ my life, even if I hurt real bad long ago.

Today’s warm…Father’s Day—just like that beautiful June day long ago. Except I ain’t leanin’ against no porch column waitin’ for Benny and Bibi this time. I be waitin’ near my favorite shady willow tree in my chair for my grown children and grandbabies to come see me an’ share the same love I did with Benny.

Now, when I stretch my eyes toward the sky and stick my head in them clouds, I be thinkin’ ‘bout stuff that don’t hurt no more. Benny replaced them bad memories for me. And, I be rememberin’ him on this day ‘cause he was somethin’ special.

Benny turned me into a puzzle piece that finally fit and gave me love and security. He also helped turn me into a father by watchin’ him all those years.

Me—I be gettin’ old now and happy where my life went.

And, Benny—he be waitin’ for me this time.

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This article has been read 1187 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Shari Armstrong 06/13/05
A wonderful story, good job keeping the dialect consitant. I used to work with foster kids when I worked in childcare. I always had a soft spot for those kids.
Karen Deikun06/13/05
I agree. Great job with the dialect and good story.
Sally Hanan06/13/05
Very sweet story.
Tesiri Moweta06/14/05
Absolutely marvellous!A classic...well done!How nice...Benny's waiting.
Phyllis Inniss 06/14/05
Very touching story but wasn't it wonderful that God sent Benny into your life to make that great change in it. You made good use of the dialect too.

dub W06/15/05
Nice job, wonderful dialect. Thank you.
Too bad there weren't more Benny stories like dis one. I like dem kin'.
Kyle Chezum06/15/05
Good job, good job! This is one of my favorites. Definitely a winner in my book!
Lynda Lee Schab 06/16/05
I be lovin' this story. Good job wit the speakin'. Kep' me int'rested all the way to the endin'.
darlene hight06/16/05
They took Jesus wit’ them in their hearts but also left Him here wit’ me. They left me pieces of them too. This is my favorite line. Great piece. Fun read with a solid message.
Pat Guy 06/16/05
I enjoyed every word all the way to the end! Well crafted, entertaining and believable. Loved it! :)
vicki mccollum06/16/05
Benny is one of my favorites! You do the dialog very well.
Linda Watson Owen06/16/05
Dialect can be very tricky to pull off. You did a really good job. Very touching story!
Gabrielle Morgan06/16/05
A very touching story. Well written, beautifully focused on the feelings of a child who has suffered abuse. A great message of love and hope.
Val Clark06/17/05
Like the way you took the reader on a journey of hope. Well characterised.
Amy Michelle Wiley 06/17/05
Wonderful story!
Suzanne R06/19/05
Gorgeous! And WELL DONE for the way you've used one variety of the English language so consistently right through! Wow!
Jackie McCauley06/19/05
Good story - and as a social worker, I find it especially enjoyable. I would love to know the inspiration for the story?!
Helga Doermer06/19/05
Looks like a winner. Enjoyed the read.
Debbie OConnor06/20/05
Jo, you are so good it hurts! :) This was one of my favorite entries this week. Great dialect, description and a wonderful message. Congratulations!
Madonna Hooper06/20/05
I know when a story is good because I literally get shivers down my spine when reading it. This happened to me at several spots in your story. Really beautiful and bittersweet. You really captured the mood through your words and descriptions. Well done!
Kevin Kindrick07/21/05
Truly amazing, a story that touches the deep part of the heart. Thank you, and thank you. You've showed the good that can come out of the evil of a violent parent. Thank you. God continues to bless and inspire you, remain in touch with his voice.

God bless,

Julie Arduini03/29/07
No secret why you are in Masters, because this earlier work just screams way better than advanced. You have a ton of talent and I enjoy reading your work. Benny is indeed a classic. Thanks for throwing that brick.