Eudora sits on her front porch in a rocking chair watching cars and people pass by on the road. She cracks open pistachios with her teeth and spits the shells into a bowl
by Jennifer Riley Oaks towered over Tucker Body Shop, the only body shop on U.S.Highway 99 in Tuckerville, North Carolina. In 1952, acorns covered the asphalt welcome mat spread in a remote corner of Fletcher County. Most drive-ins, diners, and body shops used gravel, but the body shop provided the first smooth asphalt finish in
Dare taught me all the really important things: how to throw rocks, keep from flinching when playing chicken, walk in the woods without making noise, shoot a gun and maybe the most important, how to spy on people. He was the one who saved me from my stupid name.
“Oh God – Fish!” Tommy screamed, skipping in full-tilt panic on the bank, screaming for the dog to pull herself to solid ice. He watched, helpless as she struggled, paws flailing, splashing the slushy water and trying to gain purchase. Tommy’s prancing got him nowhere, so he stepped onto the pond to try and reach her, another forbidden. Each step past the tree line brought the cracking and creaking his parents warned him of.
by Leah Weiss My older sister Katie married her beau Clarence Barnhill in 1926, shortly after I was born. They spent their wedding night at the home place with the whole family a wall or two away. This was a common thing to do because no one had money and there was no place to go. Rural North Carolina was a soft mix of dirt roads and sprawling farms and the occasional small town hugging up against the railroad track. Next to tobacco, its biggest business was raising families. In the middle of her wedding night, Katie was awakened by my crying. She got up, padded barefoot through the house, found me and brought me back to her bed. The practice of an older sister taking care of a new baby was routine in big families; even though I was Katie’s sister, I was also Katie’s baby. Mama could take care of the others. Years later, after I married, Clarence often teased my husband Alvon by asking, Did you know Lucy slept with me on my wedding night? It was an off-color joke that he never tired of telling. Alvon and I hoped it would play itself out. It eventually did, but it
by Diane Kimbrell Othermama’s biggest fear in life was death. Her second biggest fear was that she would be buried in potter’s field—a bleak burial ground for paupers located about a mile outside our hometown of Quicksand, North Carolina. To make sure she didn’t end up there without so much as a stick to mark her grave, Othermama, my maternal grandmother, took out an insurance policy with the Quicksand Mutual Trust Agency. She had no intention of being buried in an “ole cold, pine wood box,” as she put it. Her monthly payments to Mr. Mosely, the tall, thin insurance man, ensured that she would be laid to rest in a satin-lined coffin with a lid. Although she couldn’t bear the idea of being closed inside of anything, it was preferable to being exposed to the elements and eaten by worms—worms, which by the way, were her third biggest fear. Othermama had always lived with us. To this day, nobody in my family will admit it, but we all dreaded her death as much as she did. I never understood why she was so afraid of passing on to her final resting place. Perhaps she feared being cast into the Devil’s lake
by Julie Britt As soon as I discovered that nasty thing the grownups called “sexuality,” I just knew it would get me in a lot of trouble some day—with Jesus, my parents and some yucky boy—so I hid it. But my Mama and Daddy noticed my sinful sexiness way before I knew I had it, not to mention what I was supposed to do with it. I was only 10—too young to be thinking about boys, sex and chastity, a real important and mysterious word they talked about in church all the time. One night I was filling the tub when I realized we were out of bubble bath. I turned off the faucet and briefly considered taking a bath in plain old water. No. That wouldn’t be good enough. It was summer, and I had spent most of the afternoon playing in the woods with Josh, my pesky little brother. I needed the extra clean that only Mr. Bubble could bring. I figured Mama had a fresh box in the pantry. “Mama!” I called through the bathroom door. No answer. Daddy probably had turned up the TV so he could hear his western above the racket from the kitchen, where Mama was busy preparing our