Southern Legitimacy Statement: I have lived all over the hill country in Texas and am from New Orleans, LA so most of my work is about these environments and the characters I’ve encountered there.
Pipe Creek, Texas
Dust flew behind the pickup truck like a cape in the wind. Noses pressed to the window, finger- tips holding dust against the panes, our hearts thumping like rain on a tin roof.
At the river house, it was always apparent when someone was arriving. You’d hear gravel roaring beneath hot, black tires and that cape would be flapping behind whomever it was out there. Liv- ing in a house on stilts made us privy to spying on our neighbors. For example, in the far left corner of the neighborhood, a concrete walled compound was rumored to be producing meth.
Sometimes the river was meandering through rubbish and overgrown vegetation but sometimes it lay flat and still, like the palm of my hand upturned, slightly dipping in the middle, like an in- hale, the lines crisscrossing.
We had known many months beneath the sun that seemed to beam a little more intense in this town then anywhere else. We had made fairy castles out of leaves and twigs and spare lego parts. We knew to part the overgrown grass with walking sticks in case of snakes and we knew that this was only temporary. This home, that is.
You see, we were on the run. More specifically, our mother was. ***
One afternoon, my sister and I took the Toyota for a spin, despite the fact that I only had a dri- ving permit licensed in another state. We too, had wanted to watch our chalky remains fly in the wind, proving to our mother that we could get somewhere without her. Parked at the Dairy Queen because what else is there to do, laughter found its way out of our stomachs and into our throats. It ripped the silence apart. We would be fine. We had each other. These temporary mo- ments of forgetfulness or perhaps, ignorance, did indeed hold bliss. We didn’t have to think about starting over.
And so, later that week when our mom dragged us to the realtors office with her, she filled out paperwork while my sister and I were busy laughing at the taxidermy on the wall. However, there were moments of recognition, like when my mother pulled into the gravel driveway behind our new home. Once inside, she led us through the empty space. My sister and I would have to share a room again and most of our furniture would need to stay in storage. Greg, our mom’s sometimes fiancé, would fix up our bathroom and in the meantime we would try really hard to love it. I had not envisioned our new life to take place in the dark.
We sulked through the dimly lit rooms and this was the moment I finally understood we were poor.