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new writing piece

February 1, 2012

Wowsa, I’ve been busy trying to fill the shop with Valentine and wedding goodies, taking care of a sick kiddo (three ear infections in as many months) and balancing personal stuff that I’m not ready to tackle here – admidst that I wrote this piece last week for my first official ‘personal memoir’ for the class I’m taking this semester. Wanted to share;)

I was seven years old when the little neighbor girl with the hare lip hit me with a hoe in the chest and my mom lifted up my shirt from tummy to tit to see the damage; my eight year old best friend, Scott, was standing right next to me. She assessed the damage and then left us standing on the one step that led into our house to go confront the culprit, to punish the villain, to lay blame on someone other than me. I looked at Scott, he at me, but we remained frozen, not even daring to step inside to close the metal front door to keep the air condition in. Instead we stared, with our eyes glued to my mother’s back, watching her white tank top as it clung to her shoulder blades, the sweat creating angel wings in silhouette. She knocked on the door of the little yellow house across the street that was a near mirror to our own, minus a bedroom a family room addition. There was no answer. She turned and caught our eyes, waved us off as she would had we interrupted a euchre game on a Saturday night, with a rushed hand and a hurried look, and then turned to knock again, only this time with the side of her fist instead of the rap of her knuckles. We could hear the squeak of the door as it opened, the aged sound of the swollen wood caught in Indiana humidity, stuck in the frame from retaining water.

Mumbles of words were exchanged, my mother was talking with her hands in a fury and then we heard a slap. But she’d not gone in. The screen door was still intact, a proper mediator between neighbors. But the slap was real, as real as gunfire and so we stared at each other again. Questioning glances fell between us both. And then the slow wail began, and then another door opened and slammed in the same house. Clouds of dust appeared from behind the house across the street. I looked at my mother from across the street. She’d done an about face from the screen door she was just yelling at with furious gestures and unclean words and yet her face seemed hurt, like she’d been slapped, like she’d been the one punished. Hit.

Her steps were hurried. Her face was pained. Scott ran home as she crossed the street. My mother gently turned me around, one hot hand on my shoulder; the other on my lower back, her palm absorbed the sweat. She kissed the top of my head and pushed me in the door. As the 60 degree air hit my face and my sweat turned cold, she slowly closed the metal door behind us, turning the lock ever so slowly I could hear the click. That door had never been locked before nightfall. As we walked through the house, it wasn’t my mother’s sweat that turned to ice once inside the metal door.

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