Fiction Excerpt From Upcoming Novel – Kelly Burnette

Mama was right.

I was still young and pretty when we talked about it. We were living in the little house by the Peacock’s farm, and my room looked out across that broken down peeling white fence. The sun woke me up every morning. I started bleeding early, too. I had this old white nightgown that was mother’s when she was a girl. It wouldn’t get any further than me though. I had ruined it. Well, I blossomed across it and my bed sheets. They were peach. They came in peach and mint, and I chose the peach. I imagine you might understand why.

She took me up in her arms there on the cold morning and told me it’d be ok. But I knew that she was too kind. That she’d turn soon enough. Still, the tender warmth of her sagging arms ’round my neck was good. It took me to other places. Warm places my daddy’ad told me about.

All the warmth that had spilled from my guts was gone now, and all that was left was cold and red. My thighs were getting icy, like the drooping power lines near the top of my window. My mom’s hair was going gray. She’d get the dye.

She went and ran the tub, and she made Billy get the water warmer by putting in pots and pots of hot off of the stove; just to make sure. And she bathed my thighs, running the cloth up my legs, over my pubic bone, draining the cloth into the tub. The water was pink. It wasn’t uncomfortable. I’d been longing for it, if not mindfully, I’d been longing for it in my dreamworld for a while now. Her hands felt good, like I imagined they did the first time she helt me up, when we were still attached and I was kicking. I vaguely recall it.

But she was right. She said she’d heard it in some movie. She couldn’t remember the name. But with the blood come the boys. Fields will turn, they’ll grow and die. Some autumns will bump up and others’ll straggle off, leaving the family thin and mean. But they’ll all turn, and it will always come’uh time for it to be just the way it is. But the boys will always limp in from the fields. And one shoulder, it will be lower than the other one. And soon enough, their eyes will turn inside, hid from the light by the shadow rings around ’em, and though they’ll be staring right at ya’, they won’t see you. Their mouths, dry from the fields will ask for wet. They’ll disappear, sorted, back into the room that your mama used to go to at night, and they’ll wait there for you. And really, they won’t be waiting for you. They’ll be there, though. You’ll have a bruise or two. They’ll pant somewhere partly-seen with big flaming hands. The bushes and sheets’ll shake. Yeah. There may be a death in the family. They’ll whisper, “I love you” in alcohol. They’ll burn the limbs. They’ll admire their compost. The trees they cut. You’ll wash the slobber from the peach pillow case at the end of the week. Someone will pass.

Someone will. Then the cane bonfires in the turning seasons..

It may be a cousin, who lives down the road. It may be a brother, but will probably be a sister. But it will be the right time and the right place for it to happen, even though it may seem like it’s not. And the boys will always be there, coming into the light out of the dark, grinnin’.

Later on I’d discover the woods and the worthiness of secrets. Girls understand that faster than most boys.

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