Becky Meadows “Three Seconds”

Southern Legitimacy Statement: I grew up on my grandmother and grandfather’s farm, where we ate fried potatoes, green beans (cooked for an entire day or more on the stove in a pot), and cornbread. Fried chicken was a treat we enjoyed, and it was really fried—not the carbon-copy fried chicken found frozen in stores today. We ate tomatoes from the garden (straight from the garden). My southern heritage isn’t limited to food, though—I have the most marvelous southern accent that I have refused to relinquish for academia. I’m proud of my heritage!

The wind rushing in her ears gives a feeling of freedom, a letting go of the past and an embracing of the future, whatever that would be. There will be no more “say no to drugs” or “be sure to vote.” She welcomes the rush of the wind against her face. Would it tan her? What would it do to her hair?

Visions rocket through her. Her little brother falling on his bum as he ran down the dewy hill. Her grandmother standing at the stove in her pink cotton gown on Saturday morning, the smell of bacon frying and biscuits. Her grandmother throwing the flaming brown bag of trash into the creek out front. Her grandmother’s bright pink thumb with cotton blisters. The smell of cows in the pasture, the white beacon of stars at night, sitting on the front porch swatting flies in the sweltering summer heat, hollerin’ at her cousins across the field between her grandfather’s farmhouse and her uncle’s renovated trailer.

She is a child of God, a work of the most high Lord, so she must be perfect. Achieving perfection hadn’t been easy, though. It had meant giving up green pastures for pavement. It was manmade, hot and hostile and unforgiving. She had had to hurry because it burned her feet and her insides, and that made her drop her bag of groceries one day. The pastures were moist and squishy and fulfilling.

She knew the cows were unhappy when they stood near the barbed electric fence and stared at her.
She had felt that same look as she stood at the rail of her apartment balcony.
The cows had turned back to green pastures and forgotten the fence. She could not.
And then she hit the bottom.