Clover

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

Clover

Part II: The sorta pink lipstick

Photo by Ithalu Dominguez via Pexels

I don’t know what to call this feeling.


I brush the broom across our foyer and cringe — woosh-woosh.



Clover, Part I

wild child

microfiction

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.

Clover

Flash Fiction

Photo by nappy via Pexels

Hi. I’m Clover. Clover Daniels. No middle name. Who are you? Lemme guess. Mama says our family gonna be coming over soon and I’ve gotta get my act together and clean house but . . . I can spare some time to speak with you.

That’s right! I’m guessing who you are . . . Are you the guy coming to interview my daddy, Linden Tillman or something like that? I bet you are! He ain’t here right now. My daddy’s got big plans for us. We’re supposed to be moving again. This time to someplace called Hopeulikit, Georgia. You ever heard of such?

Daddy says this place is an “unincorporated community.” Of course, I didn’t know what that was so I asked him to tell me. He said they don’t have to do the census. When my mama heard this, she sucked her teeth and rolled her eyes, and said, “Great, Paulie. Another place where we won’t be counted.”

I ain’t no fool. My mama keeps me on my toes. I know I’m Black. I know I’m a girl. I know we’re poor. And I immediately know Hopeulikit, Georgia probably ain’t a place for this Black, poor girl.

Daddy’s got people who left some land to him in Bulloch County so the move there is supposed to be a significant shift in our current status, but I’m not convinced. Mama says ain’t no amount of land worth moving to if you’re gonna be invisible.

My daddy’s a dreamer. Always has been — thinks he’s gonna build that land into something amazing; something that’ll cause the world to recognize who we are and what we can do. I wanna have faith in him. He looks so happy when he talks about his plans.


I’m his good luck charm. That’s what he says. Daddy named me Clover because I brought him luck. When I was kicking in my mama’s womb, my daddy got a promotion at his job down at Amtrak. I don’t know much about the ins and outs of money and what’s good or bad but he said he went from making $8.50 an hour to $12.00 an hour.

His whole face lit up; from his eyes to the corners of his mouth. He told me about his boss — about the day the offer came his way and how he and Mama were invited to his boss’s home for dinner. He gave me every little detail, including the sound the chandeliers made when the front door opened or closed.

I wish you could’ve seen him tell me this story. It was like . . . It was like some newfound energy snuck into his heart and lifted him outta sadness.

My mama’s a shopkeeper — has her own boutique with fancy-schmancy antique jewelry, clothing, shoes, and the like. It’s called “Clara’s Place: Antiques for the Soul.” I like going to the shop with her on the weekends. I help her open the store and sometimes she lets me greet the customers.

Business was booming five years ago, now . . . Mama can barely make $300.00 a day. And my daddy thinks us moving hundreds of miles away to a place tucked behind tick marks on a map is going to shift our luck.


Mama is tired. At this point, the complaints fall on deaf ears. My daddy’s mind is made up and that’s that. She’ll go along with this new venture because she loves him — because she knew she married a dreamer passionate enough to follow his dreams and well . . . “You’ll never know unless you try” rings just behind her ears. It’s what Daddy says every time something new to do circles around in his head.

Mama’s thinking about using a portion of that land for a garden: tomatoes, collard & mustard greens, cabbage, squash, and potatoes. She sees a future with us being completely farm fresh without having to depend on anyone else for our growth. Daddy loves the sound of this — loves to hear Mama thinking positively.

You listening? I see you jotting down what I’m saying from time to time but are you listening? This move could make or break us as a family. I can tell. I sense it. If it doesn’t work out maybe Daddy and Mama won’t anymore either and I just can’t stomach that.

I look around at all the cardboard boxes we’ve got stacked up and I know a change is coming that’ll call my girlhood into question. I’m just ready to see what this place offers. If Daddy is so hooked on it, something about it has to be right.


“Clover, baby. Who are you talking to?”

That’s Mama. She’s gonna ask you if I’ve bent your ear too much. It’ll be nice if you’ll let her know I didn’t, please.

Clara glides from the kitchen to the foyer of their home where Mr. Tullis and Clover are standing. She slides by some of the packed cardboard boxes in the hallway — casually making her way closer to him. She extends her hand for a brief introduction.

“Oh, you must be Mr. Tullis? I’m Clara. Paul should be home shortly. I see you’ve met Clover. Has she disturbed you any?”

She doesn’t wait for a response.

“Please, come right on in and have a seat. I’ll bring out the refreshments.”

Mr. Tullis nods his head with approval at the mention of refreshments and takes the advice from Clara and makes himself at home.

Mr. Tullis, you’re all right with me. Thanks for not telling on me. I like to talk is all — love people. I like to observe people. You know, you can learn a lot about a person by watching them read a book. Have you ever done that?

You’re here to survey this house, right? See what it’s worth . . . See if we’ve been keeping it up and if it’s good enough to sell? Listen, the best spot in this house is the attic. There is a treasure trove up there you wouldn’t believe but Mama doesn’t like me up there playing around so I don’t go up there as much as I’d like. And she’d have a conniption if I went up there now — there are boxes everywhere! Our lives follow us around in those boxes.

But, back to details of the attic . . . It can be anything. A hide-and-seek space, a guest room, a studio . . . You name it! You got kids? If you do, I bet you five nickels your kids would love it up there too! Oh! I think I hear my daddy’s truck pulling up. You’re gonna like him. You will. You’ll see.


“Clover! Come on in here and give me a hand, baby girl.”

Clover gathers herself hurriedly, shakes Mr. Tullis’ hand, and wanders off into the kitchen to her mother.

I gotta go now, Mr. Tullis. Remember what I said about the attic — it’s the sweet spot.


Originally published in The Weekly Knob via Medium.

Hearing Nothing

Flash Fiction

“Grampy, the plumbers are here to take a look at the busted pipes!”

Elijah yells toward the back of his grandparents’ shotgun house — screams loud enough for the neighbors to hear.

“You wanna give me my pipe? Yes, boy, that’ll be all right. It’s in the den on the coffee table.”

Elijah shakes his head and cautions the plumbers with his right hand and then directs them to the bathroom on the first floor which is where they will begin their work.

“No, Grampy! The pipes! The busted pipes from the storm. The plumbers are here to fix them!”

“Mice!!! When did we get mice?! Lemme get up and find some traps, boy. We can’t have no mice cohabitating with us. No, siree.”

Elijah presses two fingers to the temples of his head and massages slowly. He then walks toward his grandfather’s bedroom and enters the room with a defeated look on his face. He stands near the window, breathes out, and begins again . . .

“Grampy, the plumbers are here to fix the pipes. There are no mice and you stopped smoking that godawful pipe three years ago.”

He looks at his grandfather, places a hand on his shoulder, and smiles gently.

“Well, if you wanted company boy, why didn’t you just say so? Sure, they can spend the night.”

A look of bewilderment shot across Elijah’s face as he tried to understand exactly what his grandfather was going on about now.

“Grampy, for who to spend the night? This is about the pipes, Grampy. The busted pipes!”

His voice was at a measured shrill with just enough volume to alert his grandmother in the kitchen. She came running to her grandson’s aid.

“Gerald! Pay attention to me, please. Elijah said the plumbers are here to start work on the busted pipes from that winter storm! They’re in the bathroom downstairs, that’s where they’ll begin!”

Although she was shouting, Sue’s voice was just as serene and peaceful as if she were speaking calmly to an infant. Elijah thought to himself, surely his grandfather would not hear her.

“Now, Elijah is going to keep watch over them while they work on the pipes and I’ll finish dinner.”

A brief moment of silence waltzed in on them and Elijah and Sue awaited Gerald’s response.

“Sue, of all the things in this world you could call me, I never thought a sinner would be one of them. And if those plumbers don’t hurry up and get here, we’re going to spend another night in this house with no water!”

Sue looked at Elijah, smiled, and gave his hand a pat.

“Today’s almost done, Elijah. Tomorrow is a new day. Maybe it’ll be a good day for him.”

Elijah gave his grandmother’s hand a gentle pat and smiled back at her.

“Maybe.”


Originally published in The Weekly Knob via Medium.