6.26.2013 Journal Prompt

Photo by Bruce Davidson
Photo by Bruce Davidson

June 26, 2013: You gotta take a stand.

2 thoughts on “6.26.2013 Journal Prompt

  1. Lindsay

    ‘You gotta stand for somethin. You gotta be somebody with thoughts that mean somethin. Ain’t no point in walkin this earth without you speak up and be heard. You hear me, Louisa? You listenin to what I’m atellin you?’

    It was a speech I’d heard pa say before. Always when he’d a drink in him and it was late and his words all spittle spun and slurred. He’d come into the dark of our room and he’d wake me from my sleep and he’d wake Katherine, too, and the speech he gave was from the heart.

    Sometimes he lost his thread and he’d launch off into something about how lucky we was to be born in these here United States of America and to be born now and not fifty years back. Or he’d say Jesus, how we’d grown all of a sudden and our bellies plump as cushions and that we was lucky for that too, and there was children on the other side of the world and they had nothing – small children with their ribs showing and so tired they could not lift their heads to feed. ‘Like the pup we rescued,’ he’d say then. And I remember that pup, how it had no strength in its spindle legs and so it lay in a basket, its eyes wide and it was sucking the air, its breath all pant and wheeze and whisper. I recall it was light as nothing when I held it, and I could feel the click of its bones and they felt brittle as dry sticks, like I could snap them in two with too much a hug, like they could not hold the heart that was beating inside.

    And then, without knowing how he got there, pa’d be telling us stuff about our mam and how he missed her, and he’d wipe the snot from under his nose onto the back of his hand and then onto his trousers leaving a slime-silver slug trail on his knee. And he’d tell us which parts of our mam we each carried with us: Katie had mam’s eyes and the high lift of her cheek bones; I had hair the same and I knew that already because there were pictures of mam when she was a girl and I thought they were pictures of me till I looked closer.

    ‘And soon as you’re both of an age, you gotta vote. You heed what I’m sayin now. Cos there’s people who fought and died so you could. Good people, and people who should be livin still.’

    He was meaning our grandma, the one we only knew through the stories that he told. She’d stood shoulder to shoulder with the black leaders in our town, once she had, and she’d shouted louder than all the rest, her clenched fist punching the air in protest, and her words now a litany prayer that we offered up to God whenever pa was drunk.

    ‘What did your grandma say?’

    ‘She said how we should never forget,’ we chanted.

    ‘And what else?’

    ‘That we should know who we are and not be ashamed of that.’

    ‘Not ever,’ he said.

    And our dead and gone grandma said how we should always take a stand and think on those in need and cast our vote accordingly.

    ‘You heed now. She was a good enough woman.’

    Pa’d go quiet then, thinking of his mam; quiet except for the rattle of his evening breath. And his eyes were heavier and heavier until they closed, and a slow slackness came then to his arms and his legs. Mostly on those nights he slept on my bed and I’d climb in beside Katherine, with the pup not a pup no more and grown now as fat as a corn fed bird ready for the table and it slept curled at our feet. And I’d tell Katherine the names of people she should vote for and I’d tell her why and the dates of the election; and she said I sounded just like pa when I did.

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