Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Stir with a knife

I really appreciate everyone coming to read the stories. Bonnie over at Frogma very kindly "Roared" me. It has something to do with The Shameless Lions Writing Group and I promise as soon as we are into March, I’ll go and look into setting up some roars of my own. For right now, I’m just trying to get through this month of stories. It does take a good bit of concentration and research to come up with new plots or to rewrite old pieces on a daily basis, so bear with me. This is sort of a marathon and all I do every day is get up and work on that day’s story.

I actually do have a good piece based off a bit of research I gathered along with the madstone research, planned. I’m going to save that one, sort of like a piece of chocolate. I spent most of today working on research for a story that didn't gel in time so I'm giving you a rewrite today.

I expanded this one for October's stories, but I really prefer the plain and simple flash version of it.

Stir with a Knife

The child huddled closer to his mother when she threw open the doors of Timman's store, letting the rain blow in. He'd been a good child and his momma had bought him a Payday candy bar. He grasped like he was afraid she would come and take it when the woman appeared in the threshold.

The child's mother picked up a knife and stirred her cup of coffee, averting her eyes from the newcomer. No one said hello.

The woman's one good eye took in the farmers and folk in the store while her bad eye rolled around at nothing in particular. She did something that might have been a smile or a grimace. There was dreadful scarring visible above the knitted scarf hiding part of her face.

No one said a word.

She moved around the store, her left foot dragging. One of her shoes had a heel two inches taller to account for the shorter leg. The rain still blew in the front door, but no one said anything or moved to close it.

She brought her purchases to the counter--a packet of no. 7 sharps, several spools of Coats white cotton thread and a thimble. Timman rang her up and took her money. Her bad eye wandered around looking at no one and a few people made surreptitious hand signs.

She wrapped her purchases, put them in her tapestry bag and hobbled to the door. She turned and looked back, focusing her good eye on the young mother. She twisted her face again. Could have been a smile--could have been a grimace. She giggled, making a sound like a crow eating poisoned corn.

"Stir with a knife--trouble and strife," her voice croaked out with the sound of a rusty barn latch.

The young mother startled and pulled the child to her. The woman left, leaving the door flapping behind her.

Timman walked from behind the counter, wiping his hands on his apron. He shut the door behind the woman and looked at his customers.

"Well, that were right interestin'," he said.

The young mother whispered, "What do you suppose she meant?"

"Don't you worry none, Lucille," said one of the farmers. "All that stuff you hear 'bout that crazy old bat cain't be true. She's just a sad, sad old woman."

A teenager said, "My momma said she got like that when the rats tried to eat her face whilst she were sleepin'."

Timman snorted. "Nah, she got caught in a barn fire. Ain't been right since."

Lester, whose farm was just up the road, said, "She sure do sew purty, though. Heard she sold one of them baby quilts for 50 dollar to some outsiders."

The teen said, "My momma said them people, their baby died after they got that quilt. She says she sews hate into them blankets. Says she wouldn't have one of them in the house for love or money."

The young mother said again, "But what did she mean--trouble an' strife? She was looking right at me."

Lester laughed, "How can you tell? I sure can't tell what she's lookin' at!"

"The evil eye...that's what she's got,” said another.

"Pshaw!" Timmon said, wiping down the counter. "Ain't no such thing. It's just something she's always a'muttering."

A boy scuffed his boot in the sawdust covering the floor. "Well, I heared that she keeps a big ole quilt that she never finishes. Every square got a hex on somebody on it. She sews a body's name on it and then you die."

"My Mamaw said she drownded her own baby in the creek and then ate it!” said the boy's companion, in a fit of one-upmanship. The boy looked peeved, since he would have liked to reveal this detail.

Some of the patrons nodded grimly, having heard this before.

"Awright, now! That's enough!” Timmon said. "She's just a hateful old woman. Don't you boys got chores to do? Get on out of here, you're takin' up air!"

The boys filed out into the rain, unhappy to leave the gossip in the warm store.

Later that night, the woman stitched another square onto an impossibly huge quilt stretching over the frame and spilling onto the floor. Her deft needlework embroidered "Lucille" into the details of a hand-sewn block. Each had the name of someone destined to die prematurely. She collected these names with malice and pieced them together with hatred.

"Yes, indeedy. Stir with a knife, trouble and strife."

1 Comment:

  1. Jbeeky said...
    I loved this one. Makes me shiver, though.

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