One of my workshop writing challenges for this upcoming week is with the prompt, "and that's when I made my big mistake." Here is what I came up with:
And That's When I Made My Big Mistake (SB1)
I grew up in the country. Mother and daddy were farmers. I wouldn't have called us poor in those days, yet I clearly remember eyeballing a cockroach in hunger. Those days are what we old timers called the simple days.
We would get up at 4 am. and work all day. The only breaks were for meals. The sun setting meant it was time to stop working and have supper. We didn't bathe very often and shoes were only worn if we could afford them. Summers were hot and winters were mild. Our priorities were work, God, and school in that order. As the oldest of six children my responsibilities allowed no time for play.
As I grew into a young woman my mother taught me the skills involved in homemaking. She took great pride in our little shack. She would oil the floors until I could see my reflection staring back at me. She taught me how to sew, cook, clean, and wash the clothes in the pond. All of these tasks I found indubitably monotonous.
Once, when mother was ill with dysentery, my aunt Martha came to care for her. Father was too busy in the fields to tend to the sickly or do the womanly chores. Aunt Martha felt the house was over run with children and shooed everyone out. I opened my mouth to protest.
I quickly shut it. Rather than remind her that I could help, I decided to take advantage of her distraction. I am unsure where this idea came from. My family never took days off, even for Sunday church, because there were always chores to be done.
I knew my choice was going to get me the switch but I had already started on this course of action; I had to keep going. With so many family members I had to move stealthily around the farm. I was trembling with each step. Every twig that snapped made my heart accelerate.
When I reached the clearing, I dashed along the creek path so as not to leave a trail. I tucked my skirts into my waist. I was going to explore the world. Part of the excitement was that young women were forbidden to roam the woods themselves. I exited the creek bed and began to trek though the brush.
The leaves on the trees were hues of orange, red, and yellow. I collected the most beautiful. I watched the light dance through them as they swayed with the breeze. I felt like it was their song just for me. I skipped stones on the water and looked for arrowheads. I even attempted to make fire out of sticks like my brothers.
I noticed that the sun was lower in the sky. This snapped me back to reality as I realized I wouldn't make it back on time. I noticed that my skirts were now dingy with black mud. I knew mother would be furious when she saw them. It was my only dress. I wanted to cry. How could something be so wonderfully fun and naughty equally?
I made it back to the house but the sun had set. Father was outside leaning on the fence post smoking his pipe. When his eyes rested on me, his expression didn't change. This brought out the fear of God in me. He slowly pulled his pipe out of his mouth.
"Where have you been Mary?" he said in a hushed tone.
I looked down at my hands. I felt ashamed of my choices.
"Look at me, Mary. Don't make me ask you again." he said with even more control and quiet.
"I am so sorry daddy!" I cried. "Aunt Martha..."I trailed off in sobs.
"She told me."
My mouth fell open in surprise. I didn't know she had sent me away intentionally. This caused me much internal consternation. Had I taken advantage of her goodwill with my sneaky behavior?
I decided to plead my case. "Daddy, I....I wanted to see the woods, to know what it was like outside of my work. I was pulled in by the world around me and got lost in its mystery. I was deceitful and that was my big mistake. I won't do it again. I will take the punishment I have coming."
My daddy looked down at me sternly. He held my eyes for what felt like an eternity, in silence. My pulse was racing. Then he winked at me as I stood there in bewilderment.
He leaned in and kissed my cheek. "Best wash that dress before your Mother is well." He then turned and walked into the house. When I think of my daddy, this is the day I remember.
This story is ficition written for the scribbles challenge. Thanks for reading.