This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not
authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.
A nightmare of pig rats in Granny’s cinder block house woke Betsy. Betsy walks barefoot in their Houston Street loft. She checks on the baby, adjusting the quilt with elves and mushrooms. “Back to bed Betsy, fix the dream,” she says to herself. She creeps into the cavern to calm snarling creatures under dripping amethyst ceiling. Betsy’s rosemary necklace blocks scent of human. The skunk ape is silent. Garlic stops the disgusting monster from birthing more swine. The “do over” fantasy is spoiled by ringing. The house phone screams. “Granny is dying.” Mamma says from Clay County. “I’m coming.” “Honey, you’re pregnant, it’s a long way. I gathered Cumberland Azaleas for her coffin spray.” “No, it’s Prinophyllum.” Betsy put the phone up.
A black pigeon leaves the windowsill. Rose-shell blooming pink/cinnamon/clove in the woods is on her hands. Trumpets of those buds call her home. She packs diapers into her Tumi bag. The light clicks on without touching the switch-plate in her toddler’s bedroom. “Tell Granny wait!” Betsy chants to the haint.
Milk left on blue doorsteps. Flora sleeps in the car-seat. Ephemeral wildflowers greet them roadside. Solomon’s seal, wakerobin and spotted mandarin lean into the breeze the Volvo creates. These mountains heard the songs of the Cherokee; the Civil War cries and backfires from coal miner’s trucks. A deer leaps out of the way. Two smaller does munch foamflowers in their lips. Drive faster, Flora might be hungry. She moved away to marry. The polished dirt floor of Granny’s house was cold, so Betsy bought a manufactured home on piers and augers. Someone delivered it in two halves over miles of compacted gravel. Ahead Betsy spots the mobile home and. a Little Tikes plastic car. “Let’s meet Granny.” Betsy lifts Flora, cloudy eyed. A cousin in a dotted dress leads them to the concrete cabin up the trail. “Where is Mamma and Granny?” “Up here.” Flora’s rejuvenated with oxygen from the dogwood forest ambles. Flora leaps as if she ran this path a thousand times. “Hurry, the smoke lady is ‘goin’.” Flora chases a butterfly the wrong way. The marine blue lepototes drops to the child’s shoulder. Flora giggles. The bug disappears. A basil bouquet hangs on the door with a bow of berries. Betsy ducks through crackle paint doorway to enter the room. Mamma releases the vent from the cast iron stove, her arms outstretched. “She couldn't wait longer Betsy.” “Mommy smoke lady is sleeping.” Flora answers. Betsy looks at quilts on the rack. “Why are Granny’s things in here?” “She never moved into your motor home. Granny loved you. She left you her books and the land.” The sound of the words made no sense. Granny could never ‘own’ this wild country. Her sun lit circle of garden was the only patch in a hundred acres she tamed the trees. Betsy kisses Granny’s cheek. They had closed her mouth, but Betsy swore she heard her whisper, “stay.”