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 Category:  General Fiction
  Posted: August 24, 2019      Views: 73

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 ABOUT
LOREN 

"Men have forgotten this truth" said the fox. "But you must not forget it. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed."

"The Little Prince" by Antoine De Saint-Exupery

"My troubles are all over, and I am at home; and - more...

He is an accomplished novelist and is currently at the #35 spot on the rankings.

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Exceptional
This work has reached the exceptional level
A new chapter in the book of life.
"No, It's Not the Butter" by Loren



A lullaby, sweetly veiled behind fluttering sheets, stirred the afternoon air, its rhythm as gentle and soft as the water lapping the nearby bank of the Mississippi River.

Words merge without effort into lyrical hums as Irene pinches wooden clothes pins between her lips to hang her family's laundry on the line.

A voice calls out behind her. "That's pretty, Mama."

Turning, Irene sees her daughter, Sophie, dressed in a faded, blue-checked pinafore with her hair twisted into pigtails and tied with red yarn. She removes one remaining pin from her mouth. "Thank you, baby. What you up to?"

"Grandma wants that I go down to the creek and pick blackberries for a pie she's makin'." She holds up a dented and rusted pail. "You want to come along?"

"I don't know. I'ts fierce hot today and I can just hear a piece of shade on the porch callin' my name."

"There'll be shade 'neath the trees. Please, Mama."

"'Course heat's gonna make those berries extra juicy. Maybe we best take two buckets. One for Grandma and one for us to sweeten the afternoon." She looks at her daughter's feet. "You gonna go down to the creek barefoot?"

"I ain't afraid of no chiggers and spiders. 'Sides Toby taught me to throw rocks into the bushes to chase out copperheads. I'll go fetch another pail right now."

Moments later, Sophie joins her mother waiting on a dirt road that defines the front of their property. The road is rutted and flanked with towering cypress trees that run along a muddy bayou. Following it will lead them to the coveted blackberry bushes siding its bank.

Taking her mother's hand, Sophie swings the two nested pails in the other. "Mama, you think Aunt Hattie uses butter on her hands?"

"Butter? Whatever brought a notion like that to your head?"

"I don't know. But when we went to visit her in the city and I touched her hands, they was soft as a rabbit's foot. Toby says it's on account she uses butter to make them that way."

"Seems a powerful waste of butter to me."

"Me, too. But Toby says soft hands are a sure sign of a rich lady on account they don't do no work and keep lots of butter in the icebox."

Irene squeezes her daughter's hand. "Your brother do talk, don't he? But no, your Aunt Hattie don't keep lots of butter in her icebox, she just lives different than us, that's all."

"I think I'd like to live like her someday. Like if she was wantin' berries, all she'd have to do is drive down to the market and get some. Not havin' to work hard like we do."

"I thought you liked pickin' berries."

"I do, Mama, but not all the time. She's even got machines that do the washin' and dryin' of her clothes." Sophie sneaks a peek up at her mother while gripping her hand a bit tighter. "Maybe that's why her hands are soft and not so scarred up and hard."

Irene breathes in the sweet summer air, moist with the scent of wild grasses flourishing beside the bayou. "You know I wouldn't give up washin' my family's clothes by hand, hangin' them in God's dryin' air or pickin' berries by the creek for nothin'."

"You wouldn't?"

"Not even if Preacher Jake came over and asked me himself. Scars and calluses on a bein's' hands are like words written down on paper tellin' 'bout their life, baby." She looks down at her own, still holding her daughter's. She squeezes it again. "And I wouldn't change a letter of it for nobody."

"Even when they're hard and not soft like Aunt Hattie's?"

"I used to think the same 'bout your Grandma's hands, 'till one day I caught a fever and she put her hands to my face." She closes her eyes as if remembering. "It was like the touch of an angel, so soft I couldn't even imagine anything softer. Your grandma's been the richest lady in the world to me from that day to this."

A moment of quietness passes between them.

"Well look here," Irene finally says. "We've been jabbering away like two Jays and nearly passed that berry patch."

They leave the road, hand-in-hand, and stop only a moment to pick up stones to toss into the bushes to scare copperheads. Then, finding the shade of a tree, they stoop and reach into the berry brambles growing wild by the creek. Mother and daughter, adding yet another page to the chapter of their lives this one hot, Mississippi day.

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Author Notes
I purposefully tried to stay in the present tense as I wanted the reader to feel the presence of the day as it unfolded. Edits are welcomed. I'm still learning. Thank you! Loren
Pays one point and 2 member cents. Artwork by Denise B at FanArtReview.com

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