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Date Posted: 18:30:48 02/27/11 Sun
Author: susiej
Subject: Probably too late for the class but here's my thoughts.
In reply to: Debi 's message, "I'll Fly Away" on 09:52:04 02/18/11 Fri

I like it alot. LIke the way it circled round and surprised me as well as the MC. Nicely done- here's my pickies

>“Sing us a song, girl.”
>
>These words, coming out of my Daddy’s mouth, made me
>so mad I could spit. On a regular day he was just
>sorry as the day is long, but today, of all days, for
>him to ask me to do anything…


I'd redo to:

I was so mad I could spit. On a regular day Daddy was just sorry as the day is long, but today....

the these words part made it feel passive- start with the emotion.

>
>People always asked me to sing. Any time there was a
>gathering of some kind eventually someone would ask. I
>usually didn’t mind; I like to do it and was proud to
>make somebody happy. Momma taught me that. But today,
>there wasn’t nobody that was happy, and no matter how
>hard I sang, the one person I really wanted to hear me
>was gone.
>
>Momma always sang at her chores and I was lucky enough
>that she passed the love of music and a good voice on
>to me. But right now, singing was the last thing I
>wanted to do. At the ripe old age of seventeen I felt
>like I was as old as Methuselah.
>
> Momma died early Saturday morning, after a long night of
>trying to birth a child much too big for her little
>body. The baby needed a name, and I had to do it,
>since Daddy was nowhere to be found. I called him
>Caleb, since he was going on ahead of us to the
>Promised Land, even though it’s not quite the same as
>in the Bible story. I’d wondered if Daddy even knew
>Momma was dead, until he showed up drunk, just after
>she’d passed. I’d had to be midwife for her since I’d
>done it before and we didn’t have money for a doctor,
>not that a doctor could have saved her. I’ve never
>seen so much blood in all my days. It looked like a
>hog-killing.
>
>Daddy’d come a-roaring into the house, hollering for
>her to come show him his newest son. I stepped into
>the hall, bloody to my elbows, holding the bundle that
>contained little Caleb. Not a word did I say, just
>pushed the wad of sheets at him. He stared at the tiny
>blue face for a minute, then laid him back in my arms,
>real gentle. He reached for the mantel, opened the
>face of the Grandma’s clock ticking there and touched
>the pendulum to stop it. I turned away to go back to
>Momma. I heard his steps going out the door, slow and
>heavy. Good, I thought, he ought to be sorry.
>
>I don’t know how anyone found out; I reckon Daddy said
>something ‘cause directly folks started showing up.
>
>“Hello the house! Miriam?!”
>
>“Please come in, Miss Holloway.” Of course she’d be
>the first to know and the first to show. Chances were
>good folks in Raleigh, a hundred miles away, already
>knew Momma was dead. I really wanted to be left alone.
>If she could, Momma would probably laugh, not one bit
>surprised that Carolee Holloway was the first to turn
>up.
>
>Ben and Brenda, my youngest sister and brother, were
>huddled together at the table by the woodstove in the
>kitchen. I reckon all of Momma’s screaming had scared
>them. I had given them some cold biscuits and the last
>of our cane syrup to keep them out from underfoot.
>Aggie was outside feeding the chickens and Martin, the
>next oldest behind me, was out gathering what was
>ready from the garden. Nobody had gotten much sleep
>and we still had to eat.

I'd cut the "my youngest bro and sis". We get that with the rest of the para-this may be a personal peeve but I always feel like this is telling- when a POV describes something very obvious to themselves, like their own room- why are they doing that? it pulls me from the story. However, I'd keep the phrase "oldest next to me" because that's important added info.

>
>“Oh, you poor thing!” Miss Holloway grabbed me and
>hugged me to her. I let her for a second, then pulled
>away.
>
>“I need to finish cleaning up.”
>
>“Let me help you!” She followed me into the bedroom
>and gagged. I knew she would. “I’ll just go keep an
>eye on the young’uns.”
>
>“I appreciate that.” I heard her cooing to the twins,
>probably eating their biscuits too. In a little while
>I heard another voice at the door.
>
>“Miriam!”
>
>This one I was glad to hear. Jimmy came into the house
>and found me. By this time I had gotten the bloody
>sheets bundled up and Momma decently covered with a
>clean one, the baby washed and swaddled at her side.
>
>“Miri, I’m so sorry.” When he held his arms out, I
>wanted him to hold me, but I cut my eyes at the door
>toward the kitchen. Miss Holloway, for all her
>claiming to be a good Christian, would start a rumor
>in a heartbeat that me and Jimmy were sparking right
>in front of my dead mother. I took his hands and he
>squeezed.
>
>“What can I do to help?”
>
>I stopped to think. It wasn’t fitting that he help me
>wash and dress her, but he could help all the same.
>“See if you can find my daddy and ask him to make a
>box for her and dig a grave.”
>
>He grimaced. “I’ll do my best.”
>
>I managed a smile. “And if not, I reckon I’ll do it,
>just like everything else around here.” He gripped my
>hand one more time to comfort me and took off.
>
>Jimmy came back in just a little while with some pine
>boards he got from somewhere and I heard hammering in
>the yard. Lots of other folks came too, most of them
>with whatever food they could spare. Mrs. Abernathy,
>the preacher’s wife came and brought me a jug of clean
>water and took away the sheets. For that I was
>grateful.
>Somebody made sure my brothers and sisters were fed, a
>couple of the men went out to help Jimmy and I got
>Momma dressed.
>
>Her best dress was her wedding dress, but I didn’t
>want her buried in that. Being married to my Daddy
>wasn’t anything to be proud of, though Momma always
>did the best she could. Instead I got out my Sunday
>dress. I had planned to wear it when me and Jimmy got
>married. A lot of eggs and wild honey had been traded
>for the cloth and Momma said the blue went with my
>eyes. I wished I had hers; green as grass, instead of
>Daddy’s eyes, the same color as the sky he was always
>staring off into.
>
>Where was that man? It wasn’t decent, him off doing
>what the Good Lord alone knew what and his wife laying
>dead. He was probably at the still, drunk as Cooter
>Brown. Folks tell of good money to be made from
>selling moonshine, but we never saw any of it. I think
>Daddy drank it all away.
>Just before dark, as I was lighting the lanterns, they
>brought the coffin in. Jimmy brought the kitchen
>chairs into the front room and faced them together in
>pairs; we set the coffin on them and laid Momma
>inside, tucking the baby into her arms. Jimmy stepped
>close behind me, putting a hand on my shoulder.
>
>“I’ll dig a grave first light. It’s bad luck to leave
>one open all night.” I nodded, reaching up to touch
>his hand, tired to my bones. There was still a long
>night ahead of me. Jimmy shooed Miss Holloway out of
>the only chair we had with cushions on it and brought
>it close to the casket, standing beside it while I sat
>down. I think it was the first time I sat down all
>day. I still hadn’t quite got my head around the
>notion that Momma was gone; I was still too mad at
>Daddy for not being there, for being a drunk layabout,
>for getting her pregnant again, after so many babies
>had been lost. If all of us had lived that house would
>have busted wide open.
>
>After a while, folks seemed to forget I was there and
>I heard little bits and pieces of what they were
>saying.
>
>“—not surprised, she was wore plumb to a frazzle with
>them young’uns and Mal never home.”
>
>“—poor brave girl, not a tear shed—“
>
>“—all them young’uns, what’s gonna happen to—“
>
>I shut it all out, just staring at Momma’s pale face
>over the edge of the pine box. She was the age I was
>now when I was born. I didn’t know what would happen
>to us; honestly, I just figured we’d keep on like we
>had been. Us young’uns took care of the stock:
>chickens, a couple of mules, a cow, and I was the one
>who always planned and planted the garden. If Daddy
>showed back up, I’d figure it out when it happened.
>
>A hand touched my arm; it was Mrs. Abernathy, the
>preacher’s wife. “Miriam, you’re all done in. I’ll sit
>up with her and the baby.”
>
>I shook my head. “You’re welcome to sit up too, but
>I’m staying here.”
>
>The crowd thinned as the night wore on; pretty soon it
>was just me and Mrs. Abernathy, with Jimmy asleep,
>propped in the corner. The neighbors would be back in
>the morning; it was Sunday and they were going to
>church anyway, besides, plenty of them were probably
>hoping for a meal and a show. With Daddy, chances were
>better than average there’d be a show fit to beat that
>Mr. Ringling fellow’s circus.
>
>Jimmy got up before dawn to go dig the grave. I was so
>thankful he’d been around, doing the things Daddy
>should have done. I’m sure the rumors were already
>starting to fly about me and Jimmy but I didn’t care.
>It wasn’t a secret that we were sweethearts. Momma had
>liked him and Daddy had been indifferent, not that I
>cared a fig what that old drunk thought.
>
>About midday, Jimmy was back and I sent Martin out to
>hitch up the mule and wagon. We carried the coffin
>out, put it in the back and followed it up the glen to
>the cemetery behind the church. Daddy was there,
>waiting by the open grave, just like he was the one
>what dug it. I stared at him but he just stood there,
>collar open and swaying on his feet like a tree in a
>high wind. It made me sick and ashamed to be his
>child, him so drunk he couldn’t stand straight, at his
>own wife’s funeral and on the Lord’s Day to boot.
>Reverend Abernathy looked back and forth between us
>for a minute, then got down to business. He said some
>words, Aggie and the twins cried a little. We all
>threw a handful of dirt into the hole. The clods made
>a hollow sound as they hit the pine box, like we were
>burying an empty casket. I took it to mean that the
>Good Lord had done taken her and my littlest brother
>Caleb on home with Him.
>
>We went on home, with a good portion of those at the
>funeral coming back to the house with us. All I wanted
>to do was run those freeloaders off, but Daddy had
>decided to take his place in our home for once, and I
>wasn’t about to start in with him in front of all our
>neighbors. I’d have my time to cry and raise Cain
>later, for now, I had to be strong for my brothers and
>sisters and quiet in the sight of my neighbors.

I think some of these details can be omitted. Its going on a bit long and I'm wondering what's going to happen.
>
>Some of the good Baptist ladies had stayed behind and
>set up all the food. Our family was first to get our
>plates then the rest of the bunch got some food. I
>wasn’t hungry so I put my plate down and pulled Ben
>into my lap. He was plenty old enough to feed himself,
>but it was soothing to have something to do. After I
>got all the food in him that I was going to, I got up
>to take the plate to the kitchen. Mrs. Abernathy took
>it from me, telling me I should sit back down, she and
>the ladies would take care of things, didn’t I think
>maybe I ought to go rest. I stood there for a minute,
>not sure what to do with myself. That’s when Daddy
>spoke.
>
>“Sing us a song, girl.”
>
>Like he didn’t even know his oldest child’s name.
>Girl. That just lit a fire in me and I was so
>tired and had already forgotten about not wanting to
>get wound up in front of everybody. I was about to
>give him the sharp side of my tongue for everything I
>could think of when I felt a gentle touch on my hand,
>just for a second. It was Jimmy. He gave me a little
>smile that seemed to tell me that nothing Daddy said
>or did could hurt me, everything was going to be all
>right, that he was there for me, all that with just a
>quick flash of a smile. He glanced from me back to
>Daddy and I turned to look. Then I saw him, really got
>a good look at him for the first time, not as a child
>sees their daddy, but how someone sees another person.
>
>He stood in the front door, like he wasn’t sure if he
>should come all the way in, the afternoon sun turning
>him into a dark shadow. What I took to be drunkenness
>earlier, at second glance looked like somebody who got
>the breath knocked out of them and didn’t see it
>coming. His eyes, the color of a clear summer sky, the
>same color as mine, were wide and staring, like a
>startled deer. His cuffs were dirty and his hands were
>all blistered and cut up.
>
>“It was him what dug your momma’s grave, not me. I
>found him there this morning about half done.” Jimmy
>leaned his head close so I could hear his voice, which
>had gotten real soft.
>
>“I took his pistol away from him too.”

Ooo- chilling and Jimmy- he's a keeper times ten.
>
>I felt my heart thump, stutter, and commence to
>beating again, this time wild and fluttering. As much
>as the man was drunk and neglectful and useless as
>tits on a boar hog, he was hurt, nigh on to wanting to
>die himself over Momma’s passing. I took a deep
>breath, surprised at how I felt; that I was glad that
>I wasn’t burying him today too. I looked back at Daddy
>and nodded. He took another step, all the way into the
>room and became a man again.
>
>“What song would you like to hear?”

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Replies:

[> [> [> Not too late, thanks susiej! -- Debi, 08:07:55 02/28/11 Mon

>I like it alot. LIke the way it circled round and
>surprised me as well as the MC. Nicely done- here's my
>pickies
>
>>“Sing us a song, girl.”
>>
>>These words, coming out of my Daddy’s mouth, made me
>>so mad I could spit. On a regular day he was just
>>sorry as the day is long, but today, of all days, for
>>him to ask me to do anything…
>
>
> I'd redo to:
>
>I was so mad I could spit. On a regular day Daddy was
>just sorry as the day is long, but today....
>
>the these words part made it feel passive- start with
>the emotion.


I'll give it a whirl, all your suggestions. I've been tweaking and retweaking and still have another week or two before we get started on these. Thanks for commenting!!!

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