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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Christmas Carols/Carolling (10/02/08)

TITLE: Rufflin' Feathers
By Chely Roach


Ariella Huffingham has never failed to live up to her name. She is always in a huff. She married into our little town over twenty years ago, but our small town ways have never mellowed her Yankee mouth. Quite the opposite, actually. I think the humidity rising off the bayou causes her face to drip sarcasm, opinions and gossip like the Spanish moss hangin’ from the oak trees.

Not only is she the reason that I am here tonight, she’s the reason half the town is crammed into this high school gym. She will want blood, and blood she will get. I got here an hour early to grab a front row seat…

Ya see, Ariella’s daughter, Maggie (that’s short for Magnolia Blossom Huffingham—gag), has been practicing her Latin since last Christmas when my daughter, Jenny, had the honors of singing the solo. Not just any ol’ solo, ya hear, but the solo. Every year the high school choir carols down Main Street to Fountain Square, right in front of the old courthouse. All the townsfolk follow them and then gather at the Square, and the kids file onto the court steps like risers, preparing for the big finale. They always sing the same ten songs—none of those mamby-pamby Santi Claus songs—just the rich, meaningful melodies that have become a tradition here. And part of that tradition is that one of the senior girls is selected to sing Ava Maria…by candlelight.

Like I said, my Jenny had the honors last Christmas Eve, and Maggie was selected for this year. With the way her mama has carried on these past couple months you’d have thought that she’d won the Miss Southern Belle sash at the State Fair. Glory bee, we were ready to toss out the whole tradition just to shut her pie hole. If it wasn’t such a travesty, I would take a lot more satisfaction in the fact that her pie hole beat us to it.

Just last month at the October school board meeting, Ariella got up on her soap box again, and like always, doesn’t have the sense God gave her to know when to put a sock in it. Well, she was carrying on about Halloween being a pagan holiday, quoting Wikipedia and other such nonsense. It seems that she no longer wanted her ten year old boy, Blake Stetson Huffingham the third (gag), to be exposed to the underground Satanists in our town by having cupcakes and costumes at school. Have mercy. Around these parts, you have to throw a pinch of salt over your shoulder if you say the word “devil”. They suggested that her son shouldn’t participate, but she huffed that then he would be the odd one out. Jeff Collins—another Yankee transplant who has seen this kind of silliness play out up north—he offered to not call it a Halloween party…instead it would be a “harvest party”. Everyone at the meeting laughed, I mean, who are we trying to fool…ourselves?

Anyway, Ariella huffed and huffed until she finally threw down her last ace; she declared that since Halloween is religious in origin it violated church vs. state laws. Can you believe she actually threatened to sue? Of course she just had to mention that her Yankee brother is a lawyer for some five name firm in the city, and the poor board caved.

Ahh, but now four short weeks later, here we are again. Yesterday, the school board sent home a letter notifying everyone that the caroling parade was cancelled, because—get this—it violates church vs. state. I swear I could hear Ariella’s meltdown clear across town.

I’m not too worried, ya see, I know the board president personally. Actually, he’s my husband. Well, he told me this morning at breakfast that the parade was going to be privately sponsored by Harvey’s Hardware this year. He’ll supply the hot cocoa and the candles, and the school won’t technically be involved…but those are cards he’s playing close to the vest. In these parts, we keep to ourselves and have our own scale of justice. Ariella is just getting her comeuppance tonight, but after she agrees to never, ever again mention a lawsuit or the “ACLU” (I need a pinch of salt), Harvey’s gonna stand up and suggest his private sponsorship. I’m thinkin Ariella is bringin slow cooked crow for the potluck.

Speaking of which, here she comes…I can already see the feathers stuck in her teeth.

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This article has been read 909 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Verna Cole Mitchell 10/09/08
I love the voice here and the rib-tickling humor in the story.
Jan Ackerson 10/11/08
What a WONDERFUL bit of satire and social commentary! Excellent voice, and I soooo appreciated the dry wit! Hooray!
Joy Faire Stewart10/11/08
This is hilarious...so much fun, I had to read it again!
Anne Linington10/12/08
Great fun, love the voice and the use of language- consistent throughout; many thanks.
Catrina Bradley 10/13/08
Wonderful voice, great characters, and an engaging tale. Very entertaining and amusing.
LaNaye Perkins10/13/08
Oh this was a hoot to read! I chuckled my way through it. Well done!
Karlene Jacobsen10/14/08
Now that's funny. Anyway, I liked it. Great job.
Shelley Ledfors 10/15/08
Great voice...great humor...great everything! Well done!
Dixie Phillips10/15/08
The last sentence sealed the story for me. In my book .... this is a contender indeed.
Leah Nichols 10/16/08
Not a contender? What are you talking about? This is hilarious! I'm not from the South, but the humor and satire is great. Nice work, as usual!
Lyn Churchyard10/16/08
Not a contender? Miss Chely, wash yo mouth out! This was brilliant, just brilliant. Full of humour and wonderful satire. I loved Maggie's full name. The voice was perfect - I could hear your MC speaking. So good, so very, very good!
Yvette Roelofse10/18/08
Reading this reminded me of "Steel Magnolias" :D I loved the voice...so very Southern.
Diana Dart 11/05/08
This is wonderful! There is so much for us rookies to learn, the characterization, the sharpness, the language... just great.