22 July 2011

Advice and Sweet Tea from Aunt Elizabeth

(Excerpted from The Pultenham County Sketchbook, by Tom Andrews)

Remember, Peasy Lou, when you were a little girl how you used to say that standing and staring at that brackish pond water down by Old Man Switchback's used to make you feel all puny?  Do you remember?  I do believe it was nothing more than a mindset, my precious Peasy.  For you were just a young lady and there was probably only one reason that the waters could have made you feel puny, but I was not one to share that with folks - least of all with the folks down at that greasy old ten-seat diner in Haverland.  I knew that some would, though.

When you would stare and stare and stare and your eye would get caught up in a leaf or in a rock or in a bird sitting on a tree limb, it was then that you started feeling puny, wasn't it?  I reckon it was also that very same time that you started feeling better and it was that very same time that you started feeling nothing at all.  Peasy, your pretty gingham dress had such a stain on it, and I think that the few people who watched you walk back to Haverland had no idea what had happened, but they tried to create some stories in their minds.  You know how those people in Haverland like to create stories in their minds, don't you, Peasy Lou darling?

I don't think that you ever said a word, but only got silent, and that is still the way you are today.  Some will say to you "cat got your tongue?" but they don't know the whole story, of course.  I would ask you if that bastard Cecil got your tongue, but I know he got something else and I wouldn't bring up his name to you, anyway.  That name burns like an ember - a painful ember sitting deep in a lot of folks' flesh, because it was not only what he might have done to you and what, in a sense, he is still doing, but it is what he did to a lot of people and what he will never do for others.  If ever there was a man who deserved a good swift kick in the man-apples or an ice water enema or a rough pine stake driven through his godless, soulless, unfeeling bastard heart, I would have to say it would be that Cecil.  And again, it would not be only for what he might have done to you, but for all that he has done and for all of that ancestral sin that the whole damned Morgan family has been soaking in for so many generations.  From a bastard turncoat who went and fought with the invading army through the man who lost it all and tasted for blood that he might have revenge...and right up to Cecil himself - the ancestral sin of that family is like a black thread woven into an already filthy garment.

So I think that when you used to look at that brackish pond water and feel all puny, Peasy Lou, I think that there is just darkness in your heart that was planted there by a heart much darker.  You ain't never been a bad girl, Peasy, and you know I love you like a daughter.  You felt that way then, and I reckon you would feel that way now, no matter what people might say.  I know what it is, and you know what it is, and lots of people think that they know what it is, but they have not the faintest clue as to the loom that wove that blackest, blackest thread - a thread that joined two garments and with time might be excised from the cleaner of the two, so as to make it that you don't feel so puny when you look at that brackish pond water down by Old Man Switchback's.

You're gonna' be just fine, girl.

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