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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Red (10/01/09)

TITLE: In the Garden
By Brenda Nichols


Daddy Phil died yesterday and I’m the one that found him. He wasn’t my daddy. He wasn’t nobody’s daddy - just everybody on Red Hill called him that ‘cause he was old. His only real kinfolk was his niece, Miss Priscilla Philson, the high school principal. Mama says her name should have been Miss Prissy ‘cause she was so ‘hi-polluty’ … whatever that means. She never came to see Daddy Phil ‘til rent time and then all she did was fuss about his garden.

“You are so country, Uncle Phil,” she’d say, “a garden in the front yard.” She’d have one chubby hand on her hip and the other reaching for the rent money. “You’re an embarrassment to me!” she told him last month. “Get rid of that garden or move.” He never said a word. Never mind that his garden was in the front yard. It was a beautiful garden and he shared his vegetables. I tell you … I didn’t like Miss Prissy. I didn’t like her not one bit. But Mama says we have to love everybody if we wanna go to heaven. Lord knows I wanna go to heaven so I guess I love her … but I sure don’t like her.

My Mama fixed Daddy Phil’s breakfast every morning and it was my job to take it to him. He’d always be sitting in his old rocking chair on the front porch … waiting for me. He called me Princess but my real name is Sara. He always had peppermint for me and vegetables for my Mama. Sometimes the peppermint was dirty but Mama says it’s the thought that counts and to always respect your elders. So I would just say thank you, blow the dirt off, say ‘dirt don’t hurt’ and eat it anyway. But yesterday morning when I crossed the street with his breakfast I knew something was wrong. He had a peppermint stick in his hand but he was all slumped over in his rocker like he was sleep. I may be only eight and a half but I know dead when I see it and Daddy Phil was dead as dead could be. Boy, I threw that plate down and ran screaming for my Mama. That was one peppermint stick he could keep.

After I found Daddy Phil, Red Hill Road was some exciting. Mama called 911 and made me go in the house but I could see everything from the window. Just as the police and the ambulance got there, here come Miss Prissy … flying down the street in that little sports car of hers. I don’t know why in the world she bought that little bitty car as big as she is. She has to roll herself over just to get out of it. Well, there she was … hollering and screaming, carrying on like she loved Daddy Phil or something.

“Oh my Lord, he’s dead,” she was yelling, “my Uncle Phil’s gone.” Well, she told him to move. But then the woman fainted!! Yep!! Miss Prissy passed plum out right in the garden she hated so much. She squashed three rows of carrots and two tomato plants as her legs flew up in the air and everybody saw her bloomers!! Now I see why Mama always say wear clean underwear. But I thought … clean or not … good enough for her!

Mama and the ambulance people helped her get up but she’d lost a shoe and her long hair was hanging on a tomato plant behind her. Lord, Miss Prissy was bald! She ripped her skirt trying to grab her wig, got tangled in the green beans and fell over in the cucumbers! One faint and she’d near ‘bout ruined Daddy Phil’s whole garden. She’d better been glad he was dead ‘cause he would’a been some mad at her.

By the time my Daddy got home from work all the excitement was over. Daddy Phil was at the funeral parlor and Miss Prissy had stuffed herself in her little, bitty car and got away from Red Hill as fast as she could. Mama told Daddy that the only thing Priscilla left behind was her pride. Daddy told Mama that the Bible says pride goes before a fall. I told myself that whoever pride was I knew he was glad Miss Prissy left him behind and I know he was happy that he got out the way before she fell on him.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 10/08/09
So funny! Love the voice, and the image of the lady's mishap in the garden--really fun.

Two things: I'd have picked a different title, especially for this audience, since your title is so closely associated with a well-known hymn. And the topic wasn't really integral to the story.

Top-notch writing, and a hilarious and delightful story.
Allen Stark10/11/09
Yes, the title had me expecting something else, but then it was a wonderful surprise. GREAT story telling and I loved the humor. I agree with your thoughts about loving the person but not having to like what they do or say.