Seedling: Chapter Six

The bus windows are already down as we cram on and sit in our usual spots. I have my knees up against the seatback in front of me. I’m sprawled out. I’ve been sitting by myself since Tuck got sick. The bus rumbles a little and starts moving out of the parking lot. I’m thinking about him today. Maybe it’s the warm air or the smell of the healthy diesel mixed with spring coming in through the rectangular windows.

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My Platform

1.      I want people to move here and to stay here. I want those same people to be motivated and vibrant and breathe life back into each and every little town speckled across our rolling hills.

 

2.      I want the people of my state to be thoughtful, educated, and prosperous.

 

3.      I want everyone to take 5 minutes out of their day to learn something new about the world around them.

 

4.      I want the people who live here to be healthy and happy. I want them not to feel so hopeless and helpless that they turn to whatever vice they lean on. Gambling. Opiates. A particularly nice bottle of bourbon. A not-so-nice bottle of vodka.

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Tone Shift

Lately I’ve had a lot of reasons to bring up my upbringing. A lot of my justification for my life, my choices, my ambition, the things I decide to care about, come from having been raised by a single mom. Sometimes I worry that my mom shows up too often in my writing. I worry that she has become some strange crutch for me to lean on, but the truth is, she is a lot of who I am.

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Seedling: Chapter Five

I hear leaves crunching at the bottom of the hill, I look down through the still-bare trees. “Sis, what’re you doin’ out here in the cold?” Book says, stepping on trout lily leaves as he goes. They spring back after his foot lifts.

“I’m doing school work, you could afford to do a little of that yourself.” I say back to him.

“You’ve been twice as geeky as usual lately,” he says back to me.

I smile and look over at him, “One of us has to make it rich!” I say as I shove my things into my bookbag.

“We should go see a movie, we haven’t done that in forever!” He says.

I jump down off the rock, “Does Mom need the car?”

“No! I already asked!” He says, excited.

We get ready and I point us towards the nearest theater, 40 minutes away. “What do you want to see?” I ask.

“The Suspiria remake!” Book says without hesitation.

I roll my eyes, “I can’t believe they made another Suspiria, there’s no way to improve upon that film. It was perfectly executed in ‘77.” I say back. Book looks at me for a moment and I give in. “Fine! We’ll see Suspiria. But you’re getting the popcorn.” I say to him.

We get our tickets and snacks and walk into the busy theater. The seats are packed tight, but we find two close to the back. The lights dim and the usual marketing push for soda and popcorn runs on the screen. The theater gets dark, the screen goes totally black, and I wait for the onslaught of previews.

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Country Pretty

I learned most of my driving social principles in the bar where my mom worked. I was young, too young for a bar really, 15 16 17. It was a small place you couldn’t get lost in, at least I never did. I drank sodas and soaked in what I saw.

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Seedling: Chapter Four

I hop quickly up the hill, the gravelly base moving around under my feet. It’s 4 a.m. Still dark. I need a sunrise, an impetus, so I am going to the top of the mountain. I find the trail halfway up, it is steep but easier walking. I start to see evidence of teen rebellion strewn in the leaves. Beer cans and cigarette butts. Icy remnants of snow start to appear on the ground as I see the outline of the old fire tower peaking though the bare trees. It is angular and unnatural; the stairs jut back and forth to form a spiral that leads to the top.

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G U N S

I’m 7 years old. My dad is standing behind me. His big arms are wrapped all the way around my tiny body helping me support the weight of the pistol in my hands. I can smell the ivory soap he used in the shower hours earlier. “Ready?” he says to me. I nod my head yes, but I am never ready for the boom. I feel his sturdy finger press mine into the trigger and my small arms do nothing to fight the recoil. “Getting better,” he says, “Just need more practice. Any daughter of mine is gonna know how to protect herself.”

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Strong Women

The women of my childhood and of Appalachia seemed to me to unabashedly handle their shit. They may not have read as many books as you but by God they would pay their bills and go get some beers at the bar and take their kids to the river and be at work bright and early on Monday morning or Saturday night or whatever their start time happened to be at whatever job they happened to have.

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Seedling: Chapter Three

Snow piles up in our yard. The big, wet flakes fall and land silent on the already laid blanket covering the grass. I watch the school closings scroll across the bottom of the TV screen. I wait for Tygarts County. 2-Hour Delay. “Shit,” I say out loud.

“Why?” Book whines.

A snow plow growls by our house as we sluggishly put on our boots and coats. I step off the porch into the 8-inch snow. My boots squish it down. I take big lunging steps through the yard to the freshly plowed stripe in an otherwise unbroken sea of the white stuff. Book follows me, he steps in the deep holes left by my feet.

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Paint it Indigo

When I was 13 or 14 or 15, Mom asked me to paint some of their lyrics over an old sign for her, Shine my life like a light was the line, from the song “Let It Be Me.” When I got the sign done, mom put it up on the back deck, she hung it proudly. A small reminder of the important things. A reminder to shine her life and she did. She shined it upon everyone and everything she encountered. That sign hung on her back porch until she died.

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Flat

Flat. The great big middle of America is flat. From an airplane window you can see the round irrigation circles arranged neatly in the grid of agriculture. I never thought much of it until I was amongst the flatness. I didn’t think it was anything to see. But standing in it, I can’t deny the feeling of infinite possibility in a place with so much space and so few bounds. Vast fields roll off into the farthest distance, equal parts sunflowers and sky.

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Rohypnol

I wake up with my car door hanging wide open. The air is cold against my bare arms. I sit up from the back of my seat and my vision swirls around for a moment. My head throbs as I start to get my bearings. It feels heavy on my shoulders as I lean forward. I look in front of me and there are pretty lamp posts and one of those old street clocks. Behind that is a strange amphitheater and then shimmery water. Ruby McQuain Park. I am down by the Westover Bridge.

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UGLY

I eat. I EAT. I have steaks and pizza and burgers for weeks. I break up with my boyfriend. I get back with my boyfriend. My boyfriend finds out the truth and we really break up. He thinks we can work it out and I know we can’t. I know I can’t. I am ugly now. It will never be what it was. Whatever it was. It won’t be clean ever again.

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Seedling: Chapter Two

Book walks into the old place just ahead of me. Cigarette smoke fills the room. I grab us sodas and turn to look for Book at a table. I see him, and I see Tuck. Tuck looks at me and smiles the biggest, widest, crookedest smile I’ve ever seen. He has a flannel shirt on, blue jeans, and some work boots; looking way too good in this honkytonk outside city limits. His guitar is in it’s case leaning up against the table.

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