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.

 

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.