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Archive for October, 2013

Fat and Sassy: The Honey Tree

Tuesday TalesIt’s Tuesday Tales! This week we’re writing to the prompt ‘sweet’.

Here’s a scene from my WIP, Fat and Sassy. Bea and Casey arrived back in Arkansas with a carload of kids in the spring of 1942. Staying with Beas father, Papa, and her younger brother Sam, keeps Bea busy. Besides the household chores, Papa still likes to find ways she can help.

The Honey Tree

Summer 1942

honey treePapa tipped up his saucer full of coffee and looked at Bea. “I need you to gather honey with me today.”

“Why me? I’ve got my hands full. Take Sam with you.”

“You know those brothers of yourn’ aren’t any good with the bees. You’re the one I always took with me because you have a way with them.”

“I was going to wash today.”

“Wash tomorrow. Those overalls ain’t gonna go anywhere. We’re outta honey and it’s a good day to harvest honey. Sunny and dry.”

Bea resigned herself to the change in her plans. She threw the flour sack dishtowel on the table. “Do you know where the honey tree is? I can’t be traipsing all over the holler in my condition.”

“Honey, honey …” Mae sang out. “Can we go too?”

“Naw, you can’t go. You’re too little to go hunt honey. You chillin’s stay here with Uncle Sam.” She poured some milk in a bottle and handed it to Mae. “Here, go give this to your brother.”

As Mae headed out of the kitchen, Bea hollered out, “Sam. Git yourself in here.”

Sam poked his head in the doorway. “What sis?”

“I’m huntin’ honey with Papa today. Keep an eye on the kids while we’re gone.”

“I’d rather do that than mess with those ole’ bees. They’s nasty creatures … Bea.” He laughed at his joke. Bea glared at him, no laughter in her face. She’d heard that joke too many times growing up and wasn’t in the mood to hear it again.”

“I’m a fixin to git the oil and the rags,” Papa said, standing and heading towards the door.

Sam started singing, “Honey, sweet, sweet honey … gonna have you on my biscuits tonight.” Bea threw the dishtowel at his head and followed Papa out the door.

The chickens got excited and started their clucky serenade as Bea and Papa passed by on the way to the barn. “So how far is the honey tree? I caint be climbing too much with this belly.”

“Just down the road a piece. It’s in that grove that’s midway to the crossroads. I spied ‘em flying back and forth yesterday and followed ‘em. The hollow is only a few feet off the ground, not too high.”

They ambled along the dusty lane towards the grove. “Should be a nice amount in there right now.  Earlier in the year when you got here there prolly wasn’t too much there after getting’ thru the winter. The honeycomb should be filled back up by now.”

Approaching the bank of trees, Papa motioned to stop. He pulled out a match and lit the oil soaked rag. Holding the smoking beacon in front of him, they entered the grove, stepping over limbs and leaf litter towards their goal. Bees buzzed back and forth on their mission. The duo eased up to the hollow, ignoring the bees swarming around the mouth of the hollow in the old oak. Bea stepped quietly behind him, holding a pail ready for the golden harvest. The smoldering torch filled with air with its pungent smoke. The buzzing slowed and quieted. Bea slipped up to the hollow, stuck her hand in and pulled out a sweet, sticky honeycomb mass. She dropped in the pail and went back for another. A few curious bees swarmed her head. She held still as they investigated then headed back to their home unconcerned.

“Got enough?” she asked.

“That should hold us for a bit.” They backtracked toward the road where Papa stepped on the rag extinguishing the fire.

Bea held her gummy hand out in front of her. It had been so long since she’d been honey hunting she’d forgotten to bring a wet rag with her. “Guess I guess the first taste,” she said, starting to lick her hand.

Fat and Sassy: Bear Creek Trestle

Tuesday TalesIt’s TUESDAY TALES! This week we’re writing to the prompt: railing.

The scene this week is in my WIP FAT AND SASSY. It’s 1942 and Bea and Casey have returned to Arkansas where Bea grew up, in search of work. To lighten their spirits, and hoping to catch a few fish to feed the family too, they take a ride out to Bear Creek Trestle.

Return to TUESDAY TALES for more stories to ‘whet your whistle’.

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BEAR CREEK TRESTLE

Bear Creek Trestle, built in 1934

Bear Creek Trestle, built in 1934

Dust swirled up around the old Chevy as it slid to a stop in the graveled turn out. The murky cloud enveloped the black sedan.

“‘Evan!” Bea screeched. “Be more careful.”

Casey knew he was in trouble when she called him Evan, and not Casey or Daddy. A slight smile spread across his face as he taunted back, “I’m surprised we still have a floorboard back there, the way you’ve been stomping on it since we left Myrtle.”

Papa Goss chuckled, exiting the front passenger door as fast as his ageing knees allowed. He was glad he wasn’t sequestered in the back with his daughter and the four young ‘uns. Bea’s brother, Sam, followed, also happy to get out of his cramped ride between the other two men.

The children spilled out of the car in a flurry of arms and legs. Mae, the oldest at five years old, led the way with her toddler siblings, Bill and Helen, right behind.

“Ona Mae,” Bea hollered from the back seat, “Come get your brother.” Arms handed Tom – the baby- out to her eldest daughter. Bea inched her way out the door, hoisting her pregnant frame up. “I’ll be glad when this chillin’s birthed,” she muttered, to no one in particular.

The men headed to the rear of the car and unstrapped the fishing poles and gear. They headed off, traveling up Walnut Creek, leaving Bea to get the children to the creek for some swimming and playing. Casey swung his bucket, whistling a jaunty tune as he disappeared around the bend.

“I want to go with Daddy and Papa,” Bill cried out.

Bea took the baby back from Mae and hoisted him on her hip. “You can’t go with Daddy. You’ll scare the fish away. Let’s go get wet in the creek.”

“Besides, you’re too little,” Mae piped in. She headed towards the water’s edge with her siblings in tow like a mother duck and her ducklings. The big mother duck, mother of them all, brought up the rear.

The children squealed with delight, feeling the cold creek wash up around their feet. Bea plopped herself down on a large rock. From this vantage point she could rest her weary body, yet keep an eye on the children.

“Mama, Mama, look at me,” three year old Bill called, wading deeper into the creek.

“Be careful! Get back closer to the bank,” Bea responded. “Ona Mae, watch your brothers and sisters.”

“Prissy, get back here,” Bea called out to inquisitive two year old Helen, who was wandering off down the bank peeking into puddles on the side.

Commands echoed from Bea’s perch on the rock.

“Don’t get too far in the water, you’ll drown.”

“Watch out for the water snakes.”

“Don’t go out too deep.”

“Be careful.”

Mae stood ankle deep, close to the side of the bank. She didn’t want to drown. “Mama, I want to go up there.” She pointed to the iron trestle bridge spanning the creek.

“No! You can’t go up there, it’s too dangerous.”

“I’ll be careful. I’ll hold onto the railing.”

“No,” Bea repeated. “It’s not safe. A train may come. And it’s too far up.”

“But you said Papa helped build the bridge. I want to go see it,” Mae insisted.

“Yes he did, years before you were born. But you can look from down here. Besides, I need you here to watch the young ‘uns.”

“But Mama …”

“Don’t sass back to me, Ona Mae Jones. Want some pepper in your mouth?” Bea grimaced as she felt a huge kick in her side.

“Ornery kid, this one’s feisty,” she mumbled.

Now where were those men, she thought. It wasn’t fair that she was saddled here with four children and a huge belly while they were off relaxing and fishing. She’d rather be up the creek with a pole in her hand than watching children. After all, any Arkie gal worth her nettle could sure ‘nuff handle a pole. She’d probably pull in more fish too.

She glanced up the creek in the direction the men had headed. Where were they? She hoped they didn’t have a flask with them. She hadn’t noticed one, but in the confusion of everyone exiting the car it was hard to tell what equipment they headed out with.

She grew up with ‘shine in her life. It was the way of the hills and paid for the clothes on the backs of her and her brothers, as few and far between as they were. She even had good ole’ moonshine to thank for her husband. Casey ran shine for Papa. He’d come down from Missouri to pick up a load and run it back up north. His twinkling eyes, cheerful disposition and tender smile had stolen her heart. But now that she was a wife and a mother, and away from the hills, she didn’t want white lightening in her life anymore.

A slight rumbling in the air echoed through the narrow gorge, interrupting her reverie. The earth began to tremble and vibrate.

“Train,” she hollered. “Kids, get over here by me.”

Fat and Sassy: The Holler

Tuesday TalesIt’s Tuesday Tales! This week we’re writing to a picture prompt.

This week I’m writing a snippet from a new WIP, FAT & SASSY. This will be my NANO project, so the next few weeks will center on this story.

Fat and Sassy: Bea was the daughter of a ‘shiner in Arkansas. Casey was the charming young man from Missouri who ran the shine up to Missouri – or Misery as many called it. Several children and years later, life did not hold the same promise. Money was next to non-existent. But four young children, with another almost due, liked to eat. And needed clothes. After a trip to California looking for work, the family finds themselves back in Arkansas, staying with Papa, while Casey looks for another job.

 

THE HOLLER

TT_fall sceneBea dropped the water pails on the ground with a clang. “Casey Jones, get that thought out of your mind right now!”

Casey jumped, his reverie interrupted. His look was pensive. He stood staring at the hollow at the rear of the property. He was not admiring the fall effects of the foliage beginning its ascent, turning from green to yellow, on the path to eventual reds and oranges. “I was just thinkin’.”

His wife knew better. “You’re not going back to runnin’ shine again. You stay out a’ that holler.”

“We need the money.”

“We don’t need the money that bad. Daddy may still be cookin’ his mash. I don’t have any say over that old man. I do have a say over what you do. You’re a father now. You’ll find work. It will be honest, respectable work. Now, git these pails down to the spring and bring us back some water if you want some supper.”

Casey bent to pick up the buckets and headed down the path.

Bea added to his back, “Stay away from that still on the way!”

His head lowered, Casey ambled away, his frail frame looking defeated. There wasn’t the spring in his step that he had when he met Bea on this land four and a half children ago. Lost jobs, moves across the country looking for work, and more mouths to feed kept him discouraged and weary. Bea didn’t notice that the spring was missing from his steps. She had her own demons to fight. Usually it was she on her way to the spring. In between she kept up the laundry, did the cooking, and watched the children. The Depression was officially over. The reality was that most of the country still suffered.

Tuesday Tales – Evergreen

Tuesday TalesWelcome back to TUESDAY TALES! The word prompt for this week is ‘evergreen’.

Here’s another snippet from Friends with Benefits, a quirky romance submitted for a contest.

Paige, after living a straight life for fifty years, is curious about life ‘on the other side of the fence’.  She ends up in a cyber-affair with Anna, her old friend from high school. After discovering how much Anna lies to her, she sends off an email in the middle of the night ending their online relationship – and friendship.

Return to Tuesday Tales for more stories to brighten your day.

 

nursery_evergreensCustomer and plants, they merged together into a blur. Paige fought to retrieve plant data from the depths of her brain when helping the customers choose their selections. Luckily the plant palate was slimmer now, consisting of a few hardy popular plants, some winter friendly annuals, the familiar stand-by evergreens, cactus tucked safely away in the heated greenhouse and the burgeoning areas of live Christmas trees. In between customers, far from the dense crowd of spring and summer shoppers, the staff huddled in the sales shack around the little heater. Paige filled Ed and BJ in on the current events with her now-ex-never-been-with lover. Half of the time she fought tears from surfacing and streaming down her cheeks. The other half of the time she felt relief that this was over and life would soon resume its steady, routine, boring course.

By lunch time the calls numbered in the twenties.

Paige maintained her determination and did not answer a single call. A few times she felt her fingers straying towards the keypad. She caught herself, slapped herself on the back of the hand, and sat the phone back down on the seat.

Back in the sales shack after lunch, Paige looked up as a florist delivery truck parked in front of the nursery gates. A uniformed driver appeared at the sales window holding a huge bouquet of large pink roses, a dozen of them, and a little stuffed teddy bear attached to the front of the vase.

“Delivery for Paige,” he said.

Mesmerized by the profuse bouquet, Paige signed at the X on the clipboard, wondering who sent the flowers. Anna, to woo her back, or Dave to celebrate the happy, for him, news?

Ed’s face peered over her shoulder. “Open the card, open the card!”

With fingers slightly shaking, Paige slid a thumbnail under the edge and opened the mystery card.  Displayed in some random Arizonian handwriting were the words: I love you! Please call me. We can work this out. Love, Anna

Ed looked at Paige. Paige looked at Ed. They both turned in unison and stared at the roses, the symbol of Anna’s begging for Paige’s forgiveness of her transgressions and acceptance of their togetherness.

“You going to call her?” Ed questioned.

“Don’t do it,” BJ added. “Don’t settle for a relationship that is less than you deserve. If she’s been untruthful with you now, she’ll always be.”

“Are you going to take the bouquet home?” Ed asked.

“No. I can’t take them home and throw them in Dave’s face. He’s been through enough with all of this. I’ll throw them away. Maybe tomorrow. After all, I’ve never gotten flowers from a girl before.”

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