by Judith Allen
Grandma and Miz Mabel are talking about how they feel . Our Millie listens and wonders.
An Appalachian Tale
Our Millie used to say sometimes what you think you hear is more interestin’ than what is really being said.
In which we listen to Grandma and Miz Mabel reminiscin’ paint a strange picture in our mind and learn a lesson about life movin’ on.
Our Millie was bored. It was one of those simmerin’ hot days in August and the puny breeze on the front porch wasn’t doin much for her mood. She had swatted flies and squashed mosquitoes and scratched the itches on her arms and legs and one on the back of her neck. She was just feelin itchy all over her outside and mean and grouchy on her inside. .....Idy Clare had gone to the city to visit her Aunt and her cousins. Our Millie knew she must be havin’ fun and would have lots to stories to tell when she got home. Pearlie Gates had to stay home and help clean the house ‘cause her mama found her bunch of movie magazines she hid on the top of her closet. After she had to burn them all and cried when Elvis and Sandra Dee both went up in smoke she had to clean the rest of her room so mama would be sure there wasn’t any more of that ugly stuff there. Pearlie Gates just hoped her mama wouldn’t check under the front steps and find her old pine box there. That’s where all her favorites were hidden, and some make-up, too. She didn’t even share that with Our Millie.
Billy Bug was off with the Jamison twins, probably at Mr. Johnson’s store lookin’ at comic book and drinkin’milkshakes, maybe gettin’ a foot long hot dog,too. Our Millie asked Pa about goin fishin’ but it wasn’t Saturday and he and Grandpa were horse tradin’ with Uncle Fuzzy. She was stayin away from Big Mil cause she was sure there was work to be done If she got too close,
Our Millie had read the last chapter of Nancy Drew and helped her solve the mystery of the Red Door and started driftin’ off to sleep when she heard Miz Mabel comment that she’s still kickin, but just not as high. Her eyes flew open and she looked at Miz Mabel and Grandma, sittin’ and rockin and snappin’ peas. She shook her head and couldn’t believe what she had just heard. She looked at Miz Mabel’s legs and her feet in her sensible shoes and wondered just how high Miz Mabel could kick. How high had she ever kicked? Was she like those dancers they had in New York City, that she saw one time on tv at the appliance store window before Big Mil dragged her away? Or some dancers in France that cousin Raymond, who had gone there once, always talked about? Or was it square dancin’ kickin? Or kickin the can down the dusty road with her brothers? Grandma was laughin’ and Our Millie looked at her legs as she sat rockin’. Did Grandma ever kick high, too? Did she use her cane so she wouldn’t fall?
Our Millie was driftin’ off again, lettin her mind try to see all these images and figure it out , when she heard Grandma ask Miz Mabel how cousin Issac was doin. “Oh, he’s doin just find,” laughed Miz Mabel. “He’s still a-pickin’ and a-grinnin.” Our Millie’s eyes flew open again as she tried to figure out what Cousin Issac could be pickin’. Corn? Beans? Peas? And why would that keep him grinnin’ ? She decide it was all too much for her and took Rusty the red-bone pup and went to sit under the cedar tree in the back yard. She would have to think about all this another time. Her brain was hurtin’ from the mysteries even Nancy Drew probably couldn’t solve. Bees were buzzin’, birds were singin’ and she drifted off to sleep with Rusty’s head on her lap.