Lemoncharles stirs beneath his blankets and listens to raindrops falling heavily on the roof. Last night there was a storm, and huge drops collected in the trees, trembling, ready to fall. Now and then winds shakes them loose, a flattened, unsyncopated music on the corrugated tin roof. It is still dark. He moves from his cot to the door and swings it open. Cool night air seeps into the one-room cabin like a ghost, and he turns to blow the fire aflame in the old stove he banked last night.Read more
“That was a nice cast, boy, your daddy’s been teaching you something right down there in Florida.”
“Now, don’t start in again, Hiram. The child wasn’t the one decided to pick up and move off. We’re blessed to have him visit for the summer.”
“I ain’t saying anything different, Martha, I was just commenting on a nice cast. Say, though, that bobber’s riding awful low. You didn’t put more than one sinker on there did you, boy?”Read more
Some days it seems to be the same voice. The voice behind the screen. The voice coming out of the shadows. The voice heavy with worry or regret. The stammering voice of a child. The voice asking or the voice searching for a prayer.
Yet, this time it is a different voice. The voice is cold, almost mechanical. It is the voice of darkness speaking.Read more
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?Read more
The pines by the house are one shadow and our van’s headlights push the darkness far back into the woods. It rushes back when they cut off. I know hell is not in that house.
The sun was setting when we left Delia. Waves of heavy cloud hung over us, so bright it looked like if they dropped they would incinerate us. I pointed them out to Ashley and she looked into the small glaring sun with me and said “Yeah, it’s beautiful.”Read more
There are no windows in the church. No clocks, either. That’s what bothers Rayne most about the service. She doesn’t mind the elder at the pulpit, glaring at them, judging them, positioning their fate, wondering about their salvation. She doesn’t mind the cramped rows of chairs before him, thighs to thighs, and the cramped, suffocating atmosphere of the dozens of faithful followers there, shoved in this ever-warming box. She doesn’t even mind that her mother drops twenty dollars in the basket when they have only two heels of bread and a quarter of milk at home. Read more
Andrew and Deborah were driving south on the Natchez Trace. They didn’t expect to get as far as Natchez or even to Tupelo. They were only out for a Saturday drive, traveling slowly and enjoying the fall weather. They stopped at the overlooks to admire the view, and they hiked a few of the easy trail loops. It was sunny and cool, and there was the rich smell of the damp earth and pine and decaying leaves. Above their heads the light flickered through the branches.Read more
Everyone in Steadman knew how Mailman George got his scars. In our town, when you were old enough to learn, your parents told you the cautionary tale of his affair with Carol Colletti – a woman on his walking door-to-door route – and her husband’s revenge:Read more
Dorcas was just getting ready for bed when her cell phone chirped. Pulling up her jeans to avoid tripping, she retrieved her phone, looked at caller ID and froze. She shot a hard look at her husband and held out the phone for Tony to see. Despite his frown, she answered.Read more
Jack’s birthday was this past Saturday, but we’re throwing his party tonight. You’re more than welcome to attend.
Being the East Coast VP of Sales for the largest health benefits company in the country, Jackson Lee Custis is responsible for overseeing all the branches from upstate New York to Miami. And as such, he’s accustomed to doing some traveling from time to time, even on his birthday weekend.Read more
Janie smoothed her hand over the cool white satin. She arranged the pattern pieces, carefully using the selvages to edge the long seam down the back. As she pinned the frail paper to the white cloth within the seam allowances, Janie pictured herself on her wedding day. She wanted to look nice in her gown but didn’t want to be vainglorious; she’d—
Suddenly, Janie spotted a roach scooting along the edge of the room and into the kitchen. She shuddered.Read more
Gus showed up at the widow Haynes’ house about a year after her husband’s death. He was three years older than her eldest son and she offered him a bed in the attic. He ate hot meals with her nine kids and worked on the farm from sun up to sun down, seven days a week. The Depression years were lean and when the boys joined the Army and went off to fight in wars, Gus stayed on in his little room in the attic and kept the farm alive. The widow Haynes was a bossy woman and she didn’t listen to any lip from the people in town questioning why this man was living in her attic. She didn’t care what anybody had to say, she was grateful for the help. She was busy keeping a roof over her family’s head and food on their table. Gus paid them no mind.Read more
Southern Legitimacy Statement: I never tire of telling my Northern friends stories of my childhood, growing up near Tampa, FL. During season, our old man would wake us up early to pick grits from the grove of grits trees up the road. We would gather the necessary equipment: a burlap grits sack, magnifying glass, tweezers and a tall ladder. The biggest, ripest grits always seemed to be at the top of the tree. We would carefully select the grits, one by one, gently plucking them off the branch with our tweezers, then deposit them into the burlap sack on our back. As a child, I could only fill one sack before noon.
I was always amazed by my father, who could adeptly climb up and down the ladder, quickly and methodically picking the finest grits, like an artisan at work. He would fill 3 or 4 bags, before we sat down to our packed lunch of scratch biscuits and strawberry jam. As the day grew late, we would make our way back to the house, dragging the full grits sacks behind us. Tired, but excitedly anticipating Mama cooking us up a big plate of fish and grits for supper. Afterward, the old man would take out his fiddle and sit on the porch to play.
Sometimes Uncle Jim would come over and join us for dinner and bring his mandolin. We would drift off to sleep with the sounds of fiddle and mandolin coming in through the window.”Read more
SLS: Deep South is different than South even though I can’t prove it. Ever since I moved north from Alabama to Tennessee I’ve felt like a Yankee. Writing Southern is about writing legacy, and that ain’t easy. We pronounce things like they sound, and I can’t hear a banjo without tapping my foot. Sweet tea tastes different when Mama mixes it up, but yall already knew all that. Read more
Southern Legitimacy Statement: How yall doin? I’m Mark McKee, born n bred in Dyersburg, TN. Short jaunt from Memphis, home of the Delta blues, Elvis, what have ye. This here story is, like all good southern yarns, based on a truth, of sorts. After relatin it to my Kansan buddy, Julie Sumner, she come along and had a right fine ending for it. Here we ere.Read more