Part V: Daddy oils the door

Photo by Steven Cutler via Redshot

I wake up to the squeak-squeak sounds of the back door swinging open, then closing. It prompts me to shoot from my bed, slip on my house shoes, and chase after the sound. It’s Daddy. He’s squirting WD-40 on the hinges of our door. He’s standing there, eyes fixed on each hinge, leaning into the sound as he moves the door back and forth. I shake my head. Daddy always has some sort of little project going on. He looks the door over, gives the hinges one more good spritz, then wipes the slippery trickle away from the panel.

He spots me watching him work. I smile and wave “Good morning” to him before finding my spot in the bay window to do some reading. Mama will be up before long and I have another request for breakfast; strawberry waffles and scrambled eggs. Yummy! I can almost taste every morsel as I daydream about it. Daddy looks over in my direction and greets me.

“Hey there, Sweetpea. What you know good?”

Daddy is a simple man with many dreams. I love when he calls me Sweetpea. I like sweets. I like peas too. He smiles a full smile and circles our kitchen sink before washing his hands. I answer his question after the water stops.

“Oh, nothing. Just waking up. I heard the door in my room. How old is this place, Daddy?”

He sits with the question for a minute or two — almost like he’s nursing the answer before sharing it with me. I watch him stumble over a way of explaining something like this to me — his eleven-year-old daughter. He opens his mouth, then closes it again, then he nods in my direction before speaking.

“Twelve years. The realtor said the family before us found a bigger place in Richmond Hill, Georgia. They wanted to sell as soon as they could and since I got the new position with H.R., this was the perfect find. I’m sure we’ll discover a couple of spots in this house that need some tender love and care as we make a life here in it.”

I can hear Mama’s house shoes skip-shuffle-skip down the hallway. She’s not a “morning person” like me and Daddy. Daddy races to put the coffee pot on. He sets up our plates and puts away the clean dishes in the dishwasher. They have an agreement; they’ve always had this agreement since before I was born. Mama cooks, Daddy makes the coffee and washes the dishes, or runs the dishwasher. Mama also does the laundry, fixes my hair, irons my clothes, and any other task Daddy doesn’t usually do. Daddy also keeps up the lawn, washes their car and truck, and gasses up the vehicles too. They manage okay, I think.

Mama’s voice is a soft yet stern one. She doesn’t use much of her voice when speaking. It’s as if she saves it for something else — something bigger. She gets on to Daddy about the squeaky door.

“Paulie, was that you I heard messing with the door this morning, or was I dreaming? I’m almost certain I wasn’t dreaming.”

“You’d be right, my love. It was me. The hinges of the back door had been squeaking, so I put a little WD on them. Worked like a charm.”

Mama smiles lightly, but there’s a hint of wonder within her smile too — like she’s waiting for Daddy to say something else, something that will stir up concern. She looks at me and blows me a kiss. I catch it and blow one back to her.

“Hey, baby. What’s for breakfast?”

Ooh! I’ve been waiting for her to ask me what I want for breakfast and I am so happy to respond. “I’d like strawberry waffles and some scrambled eggs, please!”

Mama prepares everything and signals me over to help her cook. I crack the eggs into a bowl, add a little salt, pepper, and parsley, and whisk them quickly with a fork just like she taught me. I take the shredded cheese out of the fridge and add 1/3 cup to the eggs. Mama watches me as I whisk them up once again. I place the bowl near her on the counter and wait.

Daddy checks the back door once more. He is what Mama says, “incredibly thorough.” I don’t hear the squeak-squeak anymore. “The door is saved!” I shout this to no one in particular and to all of us, I guess. Mama giggles. Daddy laughs with his whole belly. And I . . . Well, I find my spot again in the bay window and wait for breakfast.

I sure am hungry.

Originally published in The Weekly Knob via Medium.

Part I, Part II, Part III, and Part IV.


Part IV: Standing at the gate, waiting for Mama.

Photo by Shan via Redshot

We got settled into our new home within three days. Mama’s really determined about these sorts of things. She likes to have balance — complete and total Zen. We decorated my room exactly the way I had it back in Summerville. Thankfully, the space is about the same. Our kitchen is my favorite place to be. We have an open layout (as the adults call it) with a bay window. There’s plenty of bright sunshine poppin’ on through. There’s also an extended sill wide enough for me to sit on and read. I’ve spent every morning here since we moved in.

Mama begins work today and I have four more days of summer vacation before school starts. I went with her yesterday to get her keys, name tag, employee packet, and code for the alarm. This boutique isn’t anything like Mama’s shop back home. There’s this huge brick space with a teal or some kinda greenish-blue gate and anyone visiting has to be buzzed in. I asked Mama, “How in the world are customers supposed to come shop if they need permission?” She shrugged her shoulders. I’m almost certain she was thinking the same thing.

I am sitting in the bay window listening to the news as it plays in the background. Mama likes to catch up on the weather, the latest events, and traffic updates as she cooks breakfast. This morning, she offered a request — I choose blueberry pancakes and chocolate milk. Daddy’s been getting himself ready to work another ten hours down at the Statesboro, Georgia branch of Viracon, Inc. He left Amtrak when I was about four years old. His career path took a turn to the administrative side. He’s a Human Resources Coordinator by day and a “man with a plan” by night.

Daddy has this wild dream of owning his own tobacco & things shop. One thing he’s extremely focused on is making and selling unique smoking pipes and other tools used for smoking tobacco. This is the part Mama hates . . .

“Paulie, I don’t see why you have to make things that help kill people. Can’t you put that genius mind of yours to work towards something else?”

I just shrug my shoulders every time I hear this argument from Mama. Daddy’s got a dream. I hope he sees it through. Who knows? Maybe his pipes will become the most purchased pipes this side of Georgia or even bigger — nationwide! That’s what I see for my daddy. That’s what I hope for — I know he does too.

It is another blazing hot summer day. Sunshine kisses every inch of my skin and I have drunk at least a gallon of water already. It’s not even 10:30 in the morning. Mama typically works from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. during the week and on Saturday, she works 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. There are clouds bulging up in the sky. Maybe we’ll get some rain today. Today is Saturday and to save on gas, Daddy drops Mama off to work and picks her up when she’s done. I tag along.

We get to the big brick boutique with the teal or some kinda greenish-blue gate and Daddy presses the numbers “1, 7, 2” on the call-box and instantly, Mama’s voice comes through the speaker. “I’ll be right out, Paulie.” He smiles down at me and we wait. And we wait. And we wait some more. Mama is running behind and this bothers Daddy. He looks at his watch and shouts to the air, “12:50 p.m. What is that woman doing?!” He presses the numbers to the call-box again and Mama’s voice comes piercing through. “Paulie, if you push this call-box one more time, it’s going to be me and you! I’ll be out shortly!”

I step away from Daddy and sit down on the bench. Mama means business sometimes and I don’t want to be in that line of fire when she comes high-tailin’ it outta the boutique’s door. Shortly after I’m seated, here comes Mama.

“What is wrong with you?! It’s my first week! Surely, you must understand I’ll have to stay around a bit after at least once or twice, Paulie!” Daddy stares at Mama, taps his hand on his right pants leg, and shyly comments . . . “I know, baby. I apologize. I was just missing you is all.” He plants a huge kiss on Mama’s cheek and takes her bags from her with one hand and places his other hand in hers.

Yuck! The two of them need a room! I think this. I do not say it. We pile up in Daddy’s truck and the first thing he says is, “I’m hungry. Who’s hungry? Anyone want some Vandy’s Bar-B-Q?” I lick my lips as I hear his offer and shout excitedly . . .“I SURE DO!” I look at Mama and she smiles while mouthing, “Yes” and we head Downtown for lunch that’s sure to make our mouths and bellies happy.

After lunch, the rest of the weekend awaits us. I come up with little games and indoor fun to keep busy. It’s too hot to go outside and play. Our closest neighbors are about a mile up the road, so I sure ain’t trekkin’ that far to see if they have any children. I’m certain I’ll make some new friends when school begins next Wednesday and I’ll get plenty of time to play with or get to know many of them during P.E. At least, I hope so.

I think about Mama and how her days go at the brick boutique. She doesn’t seem happy and I want her to be. I know Daddy wants her to be happy, too. It must feel like the world has come tumbling down on you when the place you spend most of your time looks like some sorta prison. Again, I think this. I do not say it. I just sit with it for a while and let it keep me company.

Maybe I’ll talk to Mama about it tomorrow.

Originally published in The Weekly Knob via Medium.

Part I, Part II, and Part III


Part III: We bring the storm with us

The next morning arrived quicker than I could dream it up. Mama had been up well into the early morning hours making sure each cardboard box was taped, labeled, and stored neatly in the living room for the movers. Daddy gassed up his truck the day before yesterday, cleaned out the garage, and cooked us the perfect bbq meal last night. I can still taste that chicken — yummy. I slept so hard I couldn’t hear a single thing. I was excited about today; I am excited about today and I just want to hurry up and get on the road.

Daddy says it’ll take about two hours and thirty minutes from here in Summerville to Hopeulikit. At least we don’t have to be on the road for too long. I hate traveling long distances in Daddy’s truck. It’s dependable but it’s old and loud and is a rusty orange color — so, it’s not a looker by any form of the word. Daddy says, “It gets us where we need to go and when and that’s all that matters.”

He has a point but I’d rather be in Mama’s subtle sedan. It’s reliable, good on gas, and Mama always selects the best music stations on the radio. Daddy listens to gospel all day long and not the contemporary or modern kind, either.

No . . . not anything for Clover.

He plays the Georgia Mass Choir, Mississippi Mass Choir, The Winans, The Clark Sisters, The Anointed Pace Sisters, and the list goes on and on and on. Mama sways her head and hums to each song. Sometimes, she even gets emotional. But she has a wider range of music appreciation and that’s what I prefer most.

Daddy says we’re not making any stops so for me to eat, use the bathroom, and put my raincoat in the backseat of the truck with me. Forecast ain’t callin’ for rain but Daddy is usually spot-on when it comes to the weather — better than those fancy dolled-up weather people on the tv. They’re almost always wrong. I do as I’m told and make sure my raincoat is sitting right next to me when we leave.

Mama takes her place in the front seat, next to Daddy. She smiles. A hint of sunlight kisses her cheeks. Daddy smiles back at her. They hold hands for a brief moment. Daddy says a prayer for safe travels and we thank “the Good Lord above” for another day’s waking up — in our right minds. And before you know it, the truck’s radio is blasting Shirley Caesar’s “No Charge” and we’re off to Hopeulikit.

The loud thump-thwack sound of the truck upon ignition is common. I don’t flinch — not one move. I’ve grown so used to this thing happening that it seems second nature. Daddy asks if I’ve made myself comfortable and to him, I respond, “I sure have” and I settle in for what will be an early morning nap. I don’t remember time sailing by so quickly ever before but as soon as I open my eyes, we approached Statesboro, Georgia, and shortly after, Hopeulikit.

It is as if God above anointed my daddy to read the skies. I look up and that same pink burnt storm sky from Summerville greets us. The underbelly of the sky is the most beautiful thing — I wish I could jump straight up and touch it. Just as I was losing myself in my thoughts, the bottom falls out and I hurry to wrap myself inside my raincoat — slapping the hood on my head within seconds.

Mama lifts a huge umbrella to her chest then out to the air and presses a button for it to open. She and Daddy scatter under it before we begin to unload our items from the truck.

The movers pull up moments later. Daddy signals them to start with the bigger items then work their way down to the smaller ones. Two of the men have ponchos on while the other is soaked from the top of his head to the soles of his feet. I wonder, “will he track that mess through our new home or will Daddy advise him to hang tight while the others do what they can before the winds pick up?”

He throws up a trembling hand at Daddy and asks, “Where should we start?” Daddy doesn’t waste any time letting him know, “You can start as long as you and your crew get some plastic laid down in the main areas.”

I watch the men pull out a long roll of plastic and begin rolling from our new foyer, through the hallway, and into our living room and dining room. After that, they’re moving lightning fast, unloading boxes and furniture, and knick-knacks.

Daddy wants to help. He busies himself with the few things we loaded in the truck and I follow behind him to help. Rain is coming down like cats and dogs. I pull the hat of my raincoat tighter and tuck the curls of my hair under it.

One hour later, everything is unloaded and I stand in my new bathroom, peel the clothes from my body, and cough. Mama hears me. I know she’ll want to flood my body with Cod liver oil. Yuck!

I already don’t like Hopeulikit.

Originally published in The Weekly Knob on Medium.

Part I and Part II

Writers: A Challenge

“Family” in Three Words

My baby cousins (Jaidynn & Caison) and me. Two loves of my life. They enjoy making silly faces with me. I mean, what more could a big cousin ask for?

I am blessed to have so many little ones in my life and family members who love, adore, welcome, and enjoy being around me. This pandemic, in its early stages, put a heavy kink into my visiting plans and time spent with those closest to me in distance but now — I venture out just a little bit more. Being around them lifts me up in ways that are almost inexplicable. Many of you are familiar with Caison and Jaidynn and have watched them grow up over the years as I’ve shared stories or poems about them. Jaidynn will be six in August and Caison will be four in October. Time flies by so quickly and on most days, I want to pull it by its ears, settle it in my grasp, and beg it to stop.

So, the challenge? Tell me something about your family or what family means to you or why you rely on your family but do so in just three words.

Here’s mine:

that heal.

Writers, it’s your turn . . . Tell me about your family but in just three words. I know you can do this; I’m sure you can do this. I’ll be kicking off this 4th by visiting my mom for a few hours — that’ll be some additional quality “family” time after seeing the little ones yesterday.

Please, bring it!

And of course, there’s music. Sister Sledge, We Are Family (This song makes me feel all the feels. I used to play my mom’s record to death. No regrets.)


Originally shared via Medium.

wild child


My little wild child stands in the woods–blows the dandelion seeds into the air and captures them when they fall. I look on with a smile plastered across my worried face. How long will she have in this world living wild and free before this world comes for her? My little wild child–notices my frozen, frustrated face and collects her seeds–places them in my hands . . . “Better days are growing, we just can’t see them right now, they’re only seeds.” My little wild child . . . lights up my life . . . lights up my life.