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January 22, 2010

I wrote this from a prompt on the Editor Unleashed forum, and even though I think I may be the only person who likes it, I am posting it for Friday Flash.

My Name is Bill Franklin

When I was growing up I stayed with my Great-Aunt Sadie most all the time until I was about nine or ten. She lived down a dirt road in what used to be a town called Eufaula Alabama. Back then I thought it was the most boring place that had ever been forced on a kid. I didn’t want to be with an old lady and her old stories and old skin. I wanted to be with my mother, who was out dancing and charming the men of Eufaula and all its surrounding counties. So any chance I got, I would go outside where things didn’t feel like death. Every sunny afternoon, I would play outside right by myself for hours and hours, happy not to be cooped up by the rain that would fill the ditches along the road, and cause the frogs to get loud, and make the smell of summer to rise up off the hot ground.

But just when I had completed a fort or defeated an army, Aunt Sadie would open the screechy door on the screened-in porch that had been added to the front of her tiny green and grey trailer, and she would yell for me to come in. If I was ever dumb enough to ignore her, she’d threaten me with a switch from the Willow Tree.

During the summer, Aunt Sadie was always wanting me to help her with the beans from her garden, so I’d sit down in the rocking chair next to hers as she put the bucket down on the concrete floor in between us, and before long we were rocking together, but not ever in sync. I’d pick a handful of beans out of the bucket, and so would she, and soon the snap, snap, of the beans mixed with sound of our chairs rocking slow, back and forth, and back and forth. As we worked, the day would fade and the fireflies would get so thick it felt like the stars were snowing down to earth. And in the middle window of the trailer, there was this small hourglass hurricane lamp with delicate hand-painted flowers and a lacey brass crown, and it would be spilling just enough light, and luring me inside where the smells turned from honeysuckle to biscuits.

Now I am 68 years old and retired from my job at a print shop. I live by myself. And every Saturday I’m up with the birds. I get my newspaper off my side porch and I write down every garage sale within twenty miles. After a quick bowl of oatmeal, I head out for my search. No matter the weather, and no matter if I am sick or well. Because I am convinced that someday I will be able to find a lamp that looks like Aunt Sadie’s, and then I can put it in my window and remember what it feels like not to be so completely alone.

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17 Comments leave one →
  1. soesposito permalink
    January 22, 2010 4:13 pm

    This is really really wonderful. Total ambience & southern sweetness & the pain of growing up & growing old. “fireflies as stars snowing down to earth…” what’s not to love here? Thanks for sharing it with us!

  2. January 22, 2010 4:14 pm

    Well, I didn’t like it — I LOVED it! Such lyrical imagery… like here: “…and the fireflies would get so thick it felt like the stars were snowing down to earth. And in the middle window of the trailer, there was this small hourglass hurricane lamp with delicate hand-painted flowers and a lacey brass crown, and it would be spilling just enough light, and luring me inside where the smells turned from honeysuckle to biscuits.”

    Lovely. A nice transport to a slower time… Peace, Linda

  3. January 22, 2010 4:14 pm

    Awwww. Heartbreaking 😦

  4. January 22, 2010 6:07 pm

    I’m having major trouble posting today. I tried leaving a comment on your story from last week but part of it was cut off. Then my comment from this week went under last week’s story. I’ll get it together at some point today. Anyway, this is supposed to be here:

    This is writing. Every now and then you will happen upon a piece that, in its simplicity, says so much. This is one of those. Profound and honest.

    Sorry about all the confusion. 🙂

  5. January 22, 2010 7:48 pm

    This is quite lovely. The feeling is warm and sweet, and yet sad. I could hear the snap, snap of the beans (done buckets of those myself)…
    Thank you!

  6. January 23, 2010 4:16 pm

    You’re not the only person who likes this, Lou.

    There are layers of sound and movement in this lovely short piece, and beautiful description:

    “…I would go outside where things didn’t feel like death.”

    “…before long we were rocking together, but not ever in sync.”

    And then this majestic line:

    “As we worked, the day would fade and the fireflies would get so thick it felt like the stars were snowing down to earth.”

    Wonderful writing.
    ~Simon.

  7. January 23, 2010 7:17 pm

    Wow. Simplicity is the beauty of this piece. And well observed, intricate detail.

    Incredible.

    Kelly

  8. ditty1013 permalink
    January 24, 2010 4:48 am

    This is a really lovely almost memoir-like piece. The scenery and the feelings are well-presented, as is the message. Very nice work.

  9. January 24, 2010 7:01 am

    Really nice work Lou.

  10. January 24, 2010 12:59 pm

    This is achingly sad. Lovely, slow and rambling, much like the American South (from my limited experience). The last line is heartbreaking.

  11. January 24, 2010 2:47 pm

    First, sorry about the writer whine at the top of the post, and thank you all for indulging me and reassuring me. I think most of you probably understand the place we get into sometimes.

    I’m grateful you took the time to read and comment on this piece, and I’m glad you found something to like here and there. I think the truth is that we are all looking for our lamp in one way or another.

    Peace,

    Lou

  12. January 24, 2010 2:55 pm

    Laurita,

    Well thank you for sticking with it! I have those days, all too often. And thank you for such generous comments.

    “My point was to ask if I could link to this on my blog.” Of course, anytime. I would be honored.

  13. January 24, 2010 5:40 pm

    This is a fine flash, for all the reasons readers have given, but I think you have material here for a somewhat longer story.

    There are a lot of details in this piece that resonate with me personally.

    Yes, the lamp! Sometimes it is something we’ve lost, other times we’ve thrown it away.

  14. January 24, 2010 7:25 pm

    Terrific and heartfelt.

  15. January 26, 2010 1:35 pm

    lovely piece. very strong write!

  16. January 27, 2010 5:00 pm

    Terrific writing-I love those stories that fruit at the end, with memories that teach us what is real and what is important. I followed this from a link on Laurita’s blog – she chose a good one.

  17. January 29, 2010 5:04 pm

    Thank you so much, everyone. I really appreciate you taking the time to read and comment.

    Mark, very true.

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