Sunday, March 27, 2011
Violet stood up tall, stretching her aching back in the middle of her daddy’s cotton field. Acres of green leaves, brown bolls, and fluffy white tufts lay before her. Strands of white cotton floated peacefully in the still, heavy summer air. Violet tilted her head to the left then the right loosening her neck. Angry blisters and bright red cuts scrawled across her small, delicate hands from the picking cotton. The sun was beating down without mercy on the dry, scorched earth causing sweat to trickle down Violet’s back. As she continued to stretch her older sister Haute looked from under the brim of her hat at her disapprovingly. Haute was a sturdy young lady which came from years of helping her father in the fields. She had a stern face and serious dark brown eyes however she was pretty in a majestic, almost queen like manner. Haute scared Violet, she scared most people.
“Violet, get back to work before Daddy sees you.” Haute said leaving no room for argument.
Violet did as she was told because she knew disobeying her sister would get both of them in a heap trouble. Their family operated as a well oiled machine. Each child looked after the one immediately below them in age. So when one was in trouble, they all were trouble. Violet glanced over at her younger sister Rachel who was also helping in the field. Rachel’s mind was prone to wandering to who knows where. Luckily, she was standing by their momma who was the only one who could keep her focused on a sultry day like this. Violet could hear momma softly singing a hymn with Rachel as they picked. She could see daddy and the men working on ahead paying no attention to the girls behind them. Just a normal day on the Moody farm.
The entire family helped with the farming in whatever way they could be of use. Haute told Violet when she complained that “many families are worse off than us, some don’t even have food.”
The Moody family always had plenty of food and nice shoes for church and school. Some nights when it was too stuffy to sleep Violet would overhear her parents talking about something that she surmised must have been bad. They said words like “depression” and “crop prices plummeting” which Violet didn’t understand, but naturally feared the worst. She asked Haute about it because she was older and knew almost everything. Haute said not to worry daddy would take care of everything, but Violet could see she was worried too. Everyone was worried.
The sun as relentless and unforgiving as ever made the air wavy with heat. There was a thickness to the air that made it hard to breath, but the work still had to be done so Violet pressed on until her mother, Annie Moody, gave a nod to her daughters that it was time to go inside to prepare supper. A surge of energy flooded Violet at the notion of going back to the house. Each of Annie’s daughters fell in line behind her as they walked through the rows back to the neatly kept two story, white farm house. The yard was several degrees cooler than the field thanks to a couple of ancient, gnarled oak trees that provided shade for their home.
Violet watched little Rachel take hold of momma's hand as they walked towards the house she saw her momma try not to cringe as Rachel’s tiny fingers brushed against her open sores. Instead of pulling away as Violet would have done her momma hummed a song that she seemed to make up as she went. Violet skipped behind her mother, full of energy and sunshine, happy to be out of the fields. A patch of wild flowers off in the distance caught her eye. She made a mental note of where she saw them so she could pick them for her momma the next chance she got. Violet always delivered the flowers with a kiss on her cheek just because she loved seeing momma smile. Violet glanced back at Haute stoically following behind fanning herself with her large brimmed hat. Haute never picked wild flowers or played games with her sisters.
Once inside the girls were sent to quickly wash up. By the time Violet and Rachel made it back into the kitchen there momma working on supper and Haute was on the porch plucking a chicken. Momma nodded towards the porch and Violet nudged Rachel. They took off racing towards the door, but Violet made it faster because she was older and taller than Rachel. Violet sauntered out the door hands on her hips crowing loudly about winning their impromptu race. Rachel's face scrunched up as if she might start crying.
"Violet." Haute snapped "Quit fooling about. Work on the beans." Violet minded me older sister pulling Rachel behind her.
“Haute, will Lee Buck be joining us this evening?” Momma called out through the window.
Violet knew momma didn't like Lee Buck. She knew this because momma always used his full name like he was in trouble. She also knew it because she had heard her momma say something to daddy about it one evening after all the children were supposed to be in bed.
“I do not like that young man.” Momma had said“I cannot imagine what Haute sees in him.”
“He could be a good provider for her.” Daddy said in his slow resonating voice. "The Buck farm is the largest in the county."
“There is something not right about him,” Momma insisted “something cruel in his nature. Can’t we do something to stop this, Dallas? She's only fifteen.”
Daddy was slow to answer as was his way “That's the same age you were when we got married. If we stand in her way it will only make her want to go more.”
Violet looked back at her sister finishing with the chicken and wondered if Haute knew how their momma felt.
"I believe he will momma.” Haute replied back.
“Once you finish with the chicken why don’t you get cleaned up. I'll finish up supper.” Momma told Haute.
Violet nudged Rachel and made kissy faces causing Rachel double over in a fit of giggles. Haute cleared her throat with such authority Violet's head immediately snapped over to her. Haute got that from their Daddy. All Haute did was shake her head and admonishment washed over Violet who began immediately snapping beans again.
"Are you gonna marry Lee Buck, Haute?" Violet asked after a few moments of silence.
"Stop talking nonsense." Haute said "He has not proposed to me nor is he likely to."
"Good. I don't like that Lee Buck." Violet told her sister "He has a mean face, a big nose, and little Martha Miller said she saw him kick a dog."
"You hold your tongue, Violet." Haute said standing up with a bare chicken in her hands and walked into the house.
Violet watched her sister go earnestly hoping she didn't marry Lee Buck.
at 7:46 PM