I posted this on my Wattpad page and thought I’d share it on the blog as well. I dabble in different kinds of writing and this is one of my general fiction pieces with a southern flair.
Summary: Irene Gooden is facing the final moments of her life. As her breathing slows she remembers the days of light and darkness.
Lord Forgive Me for the AzaleasIt was a dream. A dream of cane syrup, of floured hands and rolled out biscuits.
Irene Gooden drew in a deep breath trying to smell them…real biscuits. It had been so long.
She broke into a fit of coughing only opening her eyes because of the concern in Liza’s voice.
“Rene, drink this.” The younger Ms. Gooden, as she was known in the little community of Battlecreek, Mississippi, pushed the straw between her sister’s lips.
Irene drank a few tiny sips and closed her eyes again. Biscuits and cane syrup.
When was that Liza? We must have been just girls. You and me and mama and papa.
Remember the fields? Mornings and afternoons in the fields. Bent over the cotton. Back strained and hands torn apart. Praising the Lord that we had been given another day.
Evenings in the front room rubbing down mama’s legs in the foot tub. The knots so hard it took both our hands to rub one of them loose. Papa sitting back reading from his Bible. Us trying to figure out the words at his knee. Boys all gone. Just the four of us left.
Going into town on Saturdays. Lowered eyes and ‘Yes, sir. No, sir’. Penny candy after the cotton was sold. Afternoons washing Dr. Lee’s clothes. He would give mama a nickel or two.
That was where Jack Butler was working. That’s when he seen us.
That’s when it was done written in the Book in Heaven.
There was a voice. A man’s voice. What was he saying? Ohhh. Drink this. Irene took a few more sips and opened her eyes. It was Dan. Liza’s son. Sweet man. He would often sit with her and read for a few hours. Dan, do you remember how you would read to me and your Uncle Dan when you was just a little boy?
Her Dan loved Liza’s son. They never had no children of their own, just Liza and Bill’s son. Love and Pride didn’t know that he wasn’t their natural born son. The four of them raised him up in the church and made sure that he got his lesson out. They was there when he graduated from high school and college. Dan didn’t live to see him make a doctor.
Did you know about Jack Butler, son? I was married to him before your Uncle Dan. He was an old man when I married him. He came looking to marry your mama and she was just a girl. Come to my papa one evening asking about her. Papa said she was too young to be getting married. Said I was the right age if he was set on Gooden gal for a wife.
So I married that old man and went to live outside of town. It was a cold place. It was all Jack’s doing. Nothing was ever right for him and he brought in the cold and the dark. He lived outside of the Word in all he said and all he did. I…I…shall not speak of it. Tears spilled from her closed eyes. She felt Dan’s hand on her own. “Aunty, Aunty? It’s alright darling. I’m here with you.” Dan was here. He would keep her safe.
Safe. Irene opened her eyes and smiled. She could see Dan and Liza next to her. She breathed in easily. She had been breathing easily for most of her life. It was this sickness. This last sickness that had taken her breath again.
Jack Butler had taken her breath. He had made sure that she didn’t know how he would behave. Didn’t know how badly he would hurt her or if this time would be the last time. I accepted that, Liza. I told you that before. This body was dust and dust it would return.
It was the azaleas. The only pretty thing out there on the edge of them woods. Those azaleas that grew without tending. Just grew cause they was my gift from God.
He tore them down. All over the yard. Into the wind and they was gone. I screamed and screamed. It was night before I went on in and started making something to eat. I just put as much rat poison as was in the shed into the cornbread. Jack Butler was a big eater and he had a belly full. It took him a while to die and two or three days for me bury him out in the woods.
It was for the azaleas, Irene gasped. He was tearing down the beauty in my soul. He was trying to kill my Spirit. Take my Joy. Lord, forgive me. Forgive me.
Irene could feel her body shaking. Feel the wetness on her cheeks. She wanted to cry out but there was no sound. It was Dan’s voice that calmed her. A voice so sweet. He was saying that it was alright. No more crying now.
Irene was able to sleep again. Dan sitting up on their porch. A yard full of azaleas. Mama rolling out biscuits and Papa reading his Bible.