Truths Unseen — The 1930s Part 3

Welcome back, everyone.  I’m muddling through with a brief post this time, continuing this “character study” series.

Crystal w-Story Jar 06-29-14

But first, a BFF Update… Crystal had the huge growth removed last week. She bounced back in amazing form, regaining her appetite and personality.  Meanwhile we awaited the test results for what couldn’t be seen.

As with every detail of this experience, anything good is counterbalanced by something bad. The growth was cancerous.  Dr. Villar removed everything, but cautioned that “Cancer never sleeps.”  So I have to watch carefully from now on.  (I’m always waiting for the other shoe to drop, so nothing has changed there.)

It’s good that it was the kind of growth it was (how it was positioned)… but bad because it was in a place where that doesn’t usually happen.  Making him wonder if it wouldn’t appear somewhere else.  So my anxiety level has only improved a little.  Meanwhile, as long as Crystal is feeling good and happy, I try to take one day at a time.

Girl Truths Unseen 1

Unsplash

 A few people have said they don’t see the darkness in this story, and I agree… on the surface at least. Yet knowing the full story, I also know the darkness in which the seeds were sewed.  When I began this, the story that keeps coming back, demanding to be told… though I just don’t seem able to do the telling — my intention was to go all the way back and show the characters where the darkness took root.  Hence the Depression Era setting. 

I also wanted to show the life changing effect of that darkness on the people around them, even people who were not yet born, generations to come.

However, the depth of that light-less place is too much for me.  It’s too hard to swim to the surface, once immersed.  I don’t think I’ll be able to tell the story past the 1930s where the seeds took root.  

That said, I have a couple more “studies” in the Great Depression that I can share.  This one is short.  It’s from Mattie’s point of view.

1930s Part 3 

Hat veil ad 1930s

Mattie Hardy and Frank Cutter were pronounced man and wife in the Runner County courthouse by the justice of the peace.

Some folks said a man wouldn’t have proper commitment or fidelity to the marriage without a church ceremony.  However, Mattie couldn’t bear the thought of that preacher’s wife having a hand in things.  As soon as Betty Sharp mentioned having a veil Mattie could use, she decided the justice of the peace would marry her and Frank.

Besides, Mattie had quickly learned how to control Frank.

As she grew from young girl to teenager Mattie figured out how to “make” people like her.  That usually involved whispering tales from one person to another or other tricks of words.  She arranged situations to suit herself.  Manipulating Frank was a piece of cake.

She even had old man Cutter on her side most times, and he was a crafty old codger, despite his fondness for whiskey.  Mattie reminded herself that despite what the preacher said, there was a big difference between enjoying a drink of whiskey and being a drunkard.  He was probably smarter than he looked.  She thought she’d better be mindful of the old Cherokee.

They handed paperwork to the clerk.  While they waited for the judge Mattie tucked her hand in the crook of Frank’s elbow, the way gentlemen and ladies did in films. 

She imagined the future.  She would tell him that she wanted to get a job, pretending she wanted to contribute to the finances, but Frank would forbid her to get a job, for the sake of his male pride.  She’d never seen him act that way, but she was sure, just the same.

After long enough that no one could gossip that it had been a shotgun wedding, she’d get pregnant.  They’d have two children, a boy to bring in money, and a girl to do the chores and help with cooking…  And none of it involved living in that wretched shack on that barren ridge.

Mattie adjusted the pillbox hat she wore in the reflection from the windowpane.  It was decorated with a bit of netting that she pulled down over her face.  Frank playfully lifted it up to kiss her.

They didn’t have a honeymoon.  Such things were foolishness for rich people.  Frank prudently put that money toward a house.  However, they didn’t have the house yet.  Clarence and Ben were happy to have them stay on the ridge with them, until the newlyweds could get a house.

Six months after the civil ceremony, Mattie still had not escaped from the shack on the dirt covered ridge… but she would.

Dirt Road warm color seth-fogelman-26949

Seth Fogelman, UnSplash

***

On a brighter note…

I rarely do birthday shout-outs, but I know two with such a close proximity to my own that I can’t resist.  Belated wishes for a wonderful birthday to Mary J. McCoy-Dressel!  Happy birthday to Christoph Fischer!  Many happy returns to you both.  

Mega hugs all around,

Teagan

 

Copyright © 2017 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this work may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or from Pinterest unless stated otherwise.

 

Truths Unseen — the 1930s Part 2

Welcome, everyone.  Thank you for all the encouragement you’ve given me about this story — and about just doing whatever I can, even if I find myself unable to finish telling the tale.  It’s better to consider this a series of character studies, than a serial.

Girl Truths Unseen 1

Steinar Engeland, Unsplash

I wrote this a week in advance because the surgery for my little BFF was Thursday, June 22nd, and I don’t know what or how much I will have on my hands when this episode is posted.  

BFF Update

Crystal came through the surgery like a champ!  I admit it’s frightening looking… the big shaved area, but particularly the length of the incision. She also has a little shaved spot on each arm.  The growth was at least as big as a golf ball, so the line of her stitches is about four inches long. Dr. Villar said he got the entire growth.  He mentioned the sense of satisfaction he had gotten from doing the procedure. That elevated my estimation of him, to know he takes pride in his work.  Doctor and assistant were both quite taken with Crystal.
Crystal peep stairs 2017
So far she hasn’t bothered the incision area. He used a stitch like a pillow would be closed with, so that the stitches are not exposed (as he and I had previously discussed).
I’m supposed to apply a warm compress, twice a day for three days… Crystal is not cooperating with that… 
It will be a week before I get the test results from the biopsy.

Writing Process

This episode picks up a few years after the first one ended.  It’s from the point of view (POV) of Clarence again, until the last bit.  Then we dip into Mattie’s thoughts.  At least for the first few decades, I plan to let the POV be from a less central character (which is what Clarence becomes).  I’m not sure how I’ll be able to manage to continue that as the story progresses.  It complicates the process. Meaning that I might switch the POV to a main character. I’m just thinking out loud.  

While the tale doesn’t seem “dark” right now, that will gradually change.  I try to give you just enough insights into the personalities to foreshadow that a bit.  Hopefully I succeed.  Okay, here is the second episode. 

Eddie and the Cruisers - On The Dark Side

Truths Unseen, the 1930s Part 2

I hope she’ll get herself a husband quick, Clarence thought as he looked at his little sister.  Before she gets herself  “in trouble,” or any other kind of trouble.

At sixteen years old, Mattie had grown into a striking young woman.  Her face was not remarkable, but she had slender yet shapely legs and a huge bosom.  Clarence didn’t like to admit it, but that bosom was downright impressive.  The girl was a head-turner for sure.

His sister had always been manipulative, and it took her no time to learn to use her looks to her advantage.  She was smart too.  Clarence always knew Mattie was brighter than him or their younger brother, Ben.  She wasn’t as smart as a school teacher, but she had a good head on her shoulders.  Clarence hoped that would be her saving grace and keep her out of mischief.

Especially where boys are concerned… Clarence thought as he slowly shook his head.  He seemed to do that a lot lately — shake his head.  It was an old man’s mannerism, not something you’d expect from a man barely in his twenties.

He felt relieved at the kind of good news he had to share with his siblings.  He was reassured because there weren’t many chances for young people to meet new folks or otherwise get together.  Clarence hadn’t even thought of his own social life.  His hopes were on getting his sister a husband.  Keeping that girl in line was a big job, but Clarence mostly wanted her to have the chance at a better life.  He knew that life better hurry up and show up before Mattie messed up herself in one way or another.

Young Man Banjo priscilla-du-preez-165373

“Pop Norris told me they’re having a reunion next weekend,” Clarence told his siblings to their hoots and hollers of glee.

In the rural southeast, family reunions were for family and just about everybody else too.  Even so, the Norris patriarch had assured shy Clarence all the Hardy family was welcome.  There was even going to be music, a couple of guitars and a banjo, and maybe even a mandolin!

Mattie fretted over what to cook.  At reunions, everyone always brought food, which was laid out on long tables, placed end to end.  Mattie told him she wanted to make fried chicken.  It hurt Clarence to say they didn’t have enough money for more than a little chicken.  He recommended cornbread with cracklins.  Mattie could make a mighty fine pone of cornbread, all crunchy and golden on the outside but moist and yellow inside.  With that praise as encouragement, she went along with his suggestion.

The music expected at the Norris family reunion was something to which Clarence looked forward to with happy anticipation until the day finally arrived.  Clarence couldn’t play an instrument or even carry a tune in the proverbial bucket, but he sure enjoyed listening.  Pop Norris had real musicians coming in, not just family members who could play a little.

Tables and people were spread out all across the green lawn of the Norris property.  It never ceased to amaze Clarence how one place could be rolling green, and the next (for instance his home) so barren that even weeds didn’t like to grow there.  He wanted to take off his shoes and wriggle his toes in the carpet of verdant grass, but he told himself to mind his manners.  When he saw that his little brother Ben had done precisely that, Clarence couldn’t bring himself to scold the boy.

One by one, the musicians started to arrive.  Cliff, the banjo player, had his wife and baby in tow.  She brought a banana pudding, made with egg custard, vanilla wafers, and topped with browned meringue.  Clarence’s mouth watered.  He hoped he wouldn’t miss out on a serving of that pudding.  The other musicians were single men so they weren’t expected to bring anything.  It was really just a matter of pride for Cliff’s wife to bring a dish.  Besides their music was all anyone expected them to bring.

Indian 4 motorcycle ad

Everyone turned at the rumble of an Indian motorcycle as Frank Cutter roared upon the scene, guitar slung across his back.  The motorcycle was the only thing loud about Frank though.  Clarence had not met another man who was as quiet as himself, but Frank Cutter could make a fence post seem talkative.

It raised a few eyebrows for Frank Cutter to be at the Norris reunion.  Frank was half Cherokee and some folks didn’t especially like that, but they were few.  Most people in Runner County knew full well that they had at least some Cherokee blood in their veins. 

The main thing that drew attention to Frank was that Indian motor cycle, the irony of which wasn’t lost on anyone, and his stature.  He made for an imposing figure of a man.  Being nearly six feet tall, Clarence rarely saw anyone taller than himself.  Frank, however, was lean and leggy, and stood a little over six feet.  Both men were tall and taciturn, and had become friendly the first time they met.

As concerned as Clarence had been about marrying off Mattie, he never had tried to set up an introduction for her and Frank.  That kind of thing made Clarence nervous.  However, a little smile played upon his lips as he realized they were likely to get acquainted that day.

The Cutters weren’t wealthy at all, but it didn’t take much to be better off than the Hardy family.  Frank made a decent living driving a delivery truck.  He might look like a wild sort with that motorcycle, but the fact of the matter was that it didn’t cost as much as a car or a truck.

From the corner of his eye, Clarence saw that Frank had already caught Mattie’s attention.

***

Shabby purse with coin

Dreamstime

Mattie Hardy discretely watched the tall half Cherokee guitar player.  She had never met him, but she knew he was friends with her brother.  Her sights had always been set higher than any of the Cutter boys.  She resented it bitterly, but boys from better families — and especially their mothers, didn’t want to have anything to do with her.  Leastwise, not anything anywhere the lights were turned on.  

She had begun to think maybe she needed to be practical.  Mattie was sick and tired of living in that shack on the dirt covered ridge.  Frank Cutter had a good, steady job.  He seemed to be as quiet as her brother, Clarence.  She had a strong suspicion that she could wrap him around her finger just as easily as she did her brother too. 

Sure he was big and his face was fit for a theater villain.  It was not a pretty face at all, but other than that, he was a fine figure of a man.  Mattie didn’t think Frank would hurt a fly, despite his looks.

Mattie made sure Frank got a generously buttered piece of her cornbread, but she barely gave him time to say thank you before she flitted away.  She bided her time until dinner had been mostly eaten and the musicians stopped to rest their sore fingers.

She had tucked away a dish of the strawberry shortcake that preacher’s wife had made.  Mattie despised the fact that the woman got praise for her cooking on top of everything else for which people looked up to her.  However, Mattie knew that shortcake was the best dessert on the table, so she saved a serving for Frank.

“Play a Dixie Dewdrop song!” somebody hollered to the musicians.

By Dixie Dewdrop they meant Uncle Dave Macon, a well-known bluegrass artist.  Frank grinned at Cliff, the banjo player.

“My fingers could use a rest,” Frank said, holding up fingertips dented from guitar strings.  “Take your pick of songs.”

Cliff knew Frank could play any song he’d ever heard.  So all he did was give the banjo a warning strum to let the other musicians know the key in which he’d play.  Then to the crowd’s delight, Cliff launched into Cumberland Mountain Deer Race.  The guitar and mandolin egged the banjo player to keep going. 

Mattie was annoyed to have to wait until they finished that and two more songs.  However, before Frank Cutter knew what was happening, Mattie was feeding him strawberry shortcake. 

A gleam came to her eyes as she saw her figure reflected in a window and thought about the curved shape of a guitar.  She decided to ask him to teach her to play the guitar, at least long enough for him to see how her body fit snugly into the curve of the instrument.

Frank Cutter didn’t stand a chance, once Mattie made up her mind.

***

End Episode 2

What will we learn about Frank in the years to come?  Will Mattie continue on the scheming personality path she has chosen?  What effect will she have on Frank — or on her brothers for that matter?  Sometimes a subtle influence lays an unexpected, inescapable groundwork for the future of other people who are yet to come.

Mega hugs from the dark side,

Teagan

 

Copyright © 2017 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this work may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or from Pinterest unless stated otherwise. 

Truths Not as Unseen as Intended

Some of you figured something was up when you saw a mid-week post from me.  You were right.  I prepared the first episode of Truths Unseen, and scheduled it for this weekend.  Then I decided not to do that new, dark, unhappy story after all.  WordPress, ever monkeying around with things, wouldn’t let me unscheduled it.  So I became the monkey, trying to fix the schedule at a far distant date, because I didn’t want to delete the post… And you saw the result… Unseen was unexpectedly seenGirl Truths Unseen 1

However, your responses were so positive that now I’m even more torn about doing the story.  For years, many people have told me that the story needs to be told, that it might help someone.  But those people aren’t concerned about what effect the telling has on me.  I don’t know if I can bear living in that horrible dark place for the months it takes to write the story.  That’s why I changed my mind about telling it here…  Now it’s almost as if the story (or the monkeys) took itself out of my hands.

Kathryn Schulz said of The Great Gatsby, “It is the only book I have read so often despite failing—in the face of real effort and sincere ­intentions—to derive almost any pleasure at all from the experience.”  That’s what’s wrong with this story.  There is no pleasure.  The characters don’t grow.  There’s no happy ending.  At least that’s how it feels to me.

 

I honestly don’t know if I will be able to finish this story, so I decided not to start it… then the WordPress monkeys had their way with it.  So I guess I’ll give it a try.  I apologize in advance if I’ve started something I can’t endure finishing.

I’m linking this to the other post where the story begins.  I deeply appreciate the comments you’ve already made. Click here for the first installment.

New Serial Reveal — Truths Unseen 1

Girl Truths Unseen 1

Unsplash, Steinar Engeland

Last time I put it to a vote — should I do something darkly different from my other blog stories.  Almost everyone said yes.  Although the story is “there,” I’m still not sure I can write it.  The telling is difficult.

Sigh… Okay, here goes nothing!

Even though sunshine is sorely absent from this story — and the content will sometimes be raw and difficult, as a writer I’m still not given to extremes. You need not expect gore, violence, sex, or profanity in excess.  Although there likely will be some.  Those things exist in this story, even if I don’t go into explicit detail with them.

I need the sunlight. That’s why I haven’t been able to start this dank, dark, deplorable diatribe.  It’s not a fantasy, though it may bear little semblance to the worlds any of you have known.  For your sake, I certainly hope it does not.

Writing Process

I toyed with the image at the top of the page.  That always encourages me to write. 

Strange though this “world” may seem, I want it to be authentic.  If you’re a storyteller looking for authenticity in character names (if the setting is in the USA anyway), here’s a cool resource:  The Social Security Administration’s website will show top baby names by decade, beginning with 1880. Click here. You can sort the names other ways too.

As an author, how far back, prior to the main character, does one ramble to show the circumstances, settings, and personalities that shaped the characters? (That’s a rhetorical question.)  I decided to do a group of vignettes, by decade.  Their only common tie is that they set the background.

Enough of my blah-de-blah.  Here’s the first installment.

Unseen Truths 1, the 1930s

Part 1

Cotton greg-arment-51808

UnSplash, Greg Arment

Clarence Hardy cringed as his younger sister’s voice rose while she complained about picking cotton and painstakingly removing the seeds. Sixteen year-old Clarence agreed that it wasn’t fitting for a woman to be doing such low work.  It was even worse that the woman was only a girl of twelve, but there was nothing for it.  They were lucky to get any work at all.

The Great Depression, folks called it.  To be honest, Clarence couldn’t tell that life was a lot different from before.  Runner County, Tennessee was poor, plain and simple.  So was the nearby town of Ridgeville.  The Hardy family had always been dirt poor.  He looked around at the barren land.  Nothing wanted to grow on that ridge.

His eyes looked past his ranting sister to the house.  It wasn’t much more than a shack.  If he could have given Mattie more, he would have.  Clarence wasn’t particularly smart or ambitious, but he’d do anything for his sister.

“She’s got you wrapped around her little finger,” Paw would tell him.  “You don’t help her any by letting her get her way all the time.”

In his heart, Clarence knew Mattie was extremely manipulative.  He just didn’t know how to handle it.  Clarence did most of the parenting of his sister and brother.  Their momma died young, and their dad was gone most of the time, trying to get work.  Often it was either too far or too expensive for him to come home.  Mattie was a headstrong handful.  Clarence had no idea how to bring up a girl coming into womanhood.

Every time he saw the dark circles under Mattie’s eyes he knew someone needed to have one of those growing-up talks with his sister.  He just didn’t know what to do about it.

Dirt Farmhouse asa-rodger-114571

UnSplash,  Asa Rodger

Then came the morning when she demanded to ride the old mule to work.  In no time Mattie had made him feel like a cad for needing the animal when she wanted it. 

Clarence did whatever odd jobs he could at nearby farms.  He needed it to help a neighbor pull up a stump.  He had bartered some salt pork in return for the work.  That was fine pay.  Yet, despite his better judgment, she got her way once again.  Mattie took the mule as soon as he went back inside the house.

When Clarence saw her head across the field with the mule, he had a bad feeling.  A half-heard old wives’ tale that wasn’t to be repeated in front of men-folk, about women riding anything whether horse or bicycle during that time of the month came to his mind and he paced the rough wooden planks of the floor.  

Before that summer day was half over Mattie came home in hysterics.  She punched the mule with her fist and kicked the poor beast. 

“Clarence it hurt me!” Mattie screamed as she abused the animal.  “It’s his fault!”

The youngest, Ben, opened the screen door and came out onto the back stoop to see what all the commotion was.  Clarence motioned for Ben to go back inside.  Some said the boy should be in school, but there wasn’t one close enough.

Clarence grabbed Mattie’s hand when she made to hit the mule again.  When his sister turned to pull free of his grip Clarence saw the blood all over the back of her skirt.

“Ain’t nothin to do with the mule.  You leave him alone.  It… it happens to all girls, I reckon,” he began, but he couldn’t for the life of him think of what else to say.

Knowing he couldn’t explain, Clarence took Mattie inside and sent her to clean up herself.  He paced the kitchen floor one more time.  He couldn’t see any alternative.  He went to get the preacher’s wife and ask her to explain things to his sister.

Mattie hated the preacher’s wife even more than she detested the preacher.  It embarrassed Clarence when women from the church brought them things like flour, used clothes, and sometimes a ham.  Yet he was grateful just the same.  Mattie, however, was positively irked by the charity.  She despised the women for every gift they brought.

He paused at the kitchen door.  His sister was bound to throw a fit before it was over.  Or another fit, he reminded himself.  Clarence shook his head but he didn’t know what else could be done.  Mattie wasn’t going to appreciate it.  His cheeks heated as he thought about making the request.  The only woman Clarence felt he could ask to explain things to the girl was the preacher’s wife.

***

There’s the beginning.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

 

Copyright © 2017 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this work may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or from Pinterest unless stated otherwise.

 

 

Meanwhile, Vote Here

What is progress anyway?

A special note:  I follow and comment many of your blogs regularly — getting them via email.  WordPress has stopped sending me those emails, even though everything is signed-up-for and checked. I know where to find you, but it’s hard to keep up and I apologize.

Crystal bench 03-2017

Crystal, March 2017

I guess the answers vary as much as they do for any other “what is” question.   At least my little BFF and I have made a few sluggish steps forward in the mire of Loop of Limbo of the Unknown.  (That’s Crystal’s picture a few months ago; before all this started.)  I still don’t know anything.  However, surgery is scheduled for June 22nd.  

They finally approved an appetite stimulant, which has helped her immediate “health” hugely after just one dose.  I was afraid she would be too week from self-starvation to survive the anesthesia for the surgery.  Hopefully the biopsy will let me know how to proceed.

So, that’s an update for those who have been following Crystal, here and on Facebook.  Of no importance to the world at large.  Nothing close to the burdens others bear.  However, if me, myself, and I were having a conversation, I would tell Myself what I’ve often told others —  The cross you bear may seen trivial compared to what others endure, but that does not mean your burden is any less heavy for you to carry.

Loop of Limbo of the Unknown

I’m tired of hearing myself say that work and life drains my creativity, preventing me from writing.  It’s my very own “Theory of the Moebius.”  Unfortunately that state has not improved. 

Since I just don’t have it — what I need to work on my stories, I keep having the thought to share a different story with you.  (To be honest, I’m not even sure I can do this one, but it keeps coming back to me, so…)

The problem is, that it is not like any of the stories I’ve brought here. It’s dark. Filled with the kind of truths most people just can’t seem to handle.

You will face the truth weird guy

So I’ve decided to put it to a vote.  Click on the button you choose below, because I don’t know if I’ll be able to leave the comments enabled.

Good golly Miss Molly! WordPress has monkeyed around with that poll feature! I thought I’d do a quick post and be done, but I’ve spent three hours instead… Time indeed became a loop.

Mega hugs.