The Sinkhole…

 

The Sinkhole…
(A short-short story from a collection of memories from the author’s childhood)
The summer of 1943, my family became the proud owners of a “newer” icebox; the old one became rusty with the tiny leaks that allowed water to escape. A block of ice bought from the regular Saturday trip to town wrapped in burlap kept to ice cool all week, by Saturday morning the burlap wrap, which southerners called a “toe sack” lay in a lump of water. My grandpa and the one old mule we owned pulled the old rusty icebox to a sinkhole in the pasture. The ever-sinking hole was round as big as a house, the walls slanted toward a bottom that provided an ever-ending change throughout the year.

As children, my sister Billie Wayne and I knew not to go near the sinkhole, that it may sink into the earth and we would never be seen again. Of course neither of us we afraid of it! It was also the summer that my ten-year-old sister convinced me that she had a new place for me to play; excited I ran with her into the pasture and jumped right into the sinkhole. My only sibling always played her never-ending spiteful tricks on me; with the promise of playing “train”, she the conductor and me the passenger, she shoved me into the old icebox and shut the door. I could hear her laughter as she ran out of the sinkhole.

One would have thought that my grandfather would have turned the old icebox face down, but he dumped it, watched it slide into the hole and rode away; it landed on its back with door exposed. He was my daddy’s’ father, the one who ran off leaving him and his mother when he was just a boy. It was our mother who forced my daddy to have him come see us, she taught my sister to call him Papa, in time I would only refer to him as Mr. Johnson.

I do not want say that my sister shut me in the icebox on purpose, but as the years went by I did wonder if her constant tricks, comments and bossiness was in wanting to be an only child had anything to do with it? Of course, my mother wanted her to be the only child as well.  As a family, we had established our pattern for family life…my mother would always have Billie with her and tell me to run along with my daddy while she and Billie planned their day. Daddy tried to remember how long I had been gone, he begin to calling my name, even getting the old dog “Buster” to look for me.

Mother tried to reassure him that I was out in the woods somewhere; Billie Wayne continued cutting cookie dough without saying anything. My grandfather got on the old mule and headed into the nearby sugar cane field knowing that I sometimes stole a bit of sugar cane to suck on. Yes, at barely four years old I would play in the fields and woods, a wild child so to speak.

The grandpa was moving slowly hoping I would hear them calling my name when he thought of the old icebox. It never entered his mind that he might kill that old mule by running him so fast in the hot Alabama sun, but he jumped off his back, sliding down into the sinkhole. When he jerked open the door that I was blue, he hollered for my daddy while blowing into my mouth; now who would have known that he knew CPR. He didn’t he just wanted to get air into my lungs.

Daddy saw grandpa riding across the pasture toward the sink hole; he knew instantly that something was wrong he had never seen the old mule move so fast. Daddy rode across the pasture on Red, the big roan quarter horse hooves pounding the earth, Buster barked, it would seem even the animals knew that a threatening cloud had settled over the old Hamilton Place, the farm my daddy worked.

Daddy jumped into the sinkhole pulling me from my granddaddy’s arms, he climbed back upon Red leaving grandpa behind, and he rode to the gully where we went for water. Coming out of a big boulder was a stream of cold water, almost as if it had been frozen and was melting; it flowed into a rock where time had formed a bowl before it lapped into a small creek.

Daddy ran tossing me into the ice-cold water, there is no explanation for what he did but the cold water shocked me into breathing. I would like to think that both God and Nature had a hand in keeping me alive that day through the hands of my daddy.

When daddy carried me into the house the first question my mother asks had I been swimming in the Pool’s catfish pond again. Daddy told her what happen, while daddy placed me on the bed my sister and I shared; mother continued to chastise me for playing in the sinkhole.

“You have got to stop running the woods and pastures, you should try to be a lady; more like your sister” She looked toward my sister with a pride.

I raised my head off the pillow long enough to see Billie Wayne smiling and when no one was looking she stuck her tongue out at me!

Billie Wayne passed away in 2009 at the age of seventy-six years old; we had become sisters and friends only the last thirteen years of her life. I maintained the relationship until she stops speaking in 2006; it took be those thirteen years to find out that she had never changed.

 

©elizabethannjohnsonmurphree

 

 

With Death comes Freedom…

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A short-short story…Freedom
He was a young man, bitter with his life and he did not suppress his tongue, life was arguments and questions. He needed no prompting; his waking hours seem devoted to causing weeping. He rarely laughed; he had a skill for creating pain, even in his passionate moments. His joy was to reign over his human possession, his wife. She would cease to have a will of her own, she was afraid and she obeyed.
To serve, to have no mind of her own, she too thought he owned her. Women were mistresses of his heart, yet there was no freedom for his own wife. She was not his equal, when he was with her his words brought new-bleeding to her heart. He was only satisfied when he drew blood, his appetite for hurting never ceased.
Their vows he had broken thousands of times. His mouth foul and dishonest, an adulterous heart beat within his broad barrel chest. The past, his youth, his suffering, maybe at the hands of another. Had this brought him to this day? He was not true or kind; he felt no shame in the bruises he left behind. Among those who knew him, he could do no harm; these people did not know him.
She had not asked for pearls or rubies, and she did not ask that her blood be shed. His moods released terror in his path, and his wife lay like twisted metal after it had met with deadly winds. She felt no worth, or equalities, only the wrath of his sickly attempts to have her go mad.
His affections never tender. His wife like a lamb at the altar of his desires. Spirits sought her, he kept them at a cold distance, and it was he and only he that owned her. The scars of battle went unseen, she was a caged animal. His victory did not make her weak; her bosoms may belong to him as he drank from the fountain of her youth. Her discipline held by grace, she vowed to never give in to the bond he commanded.
She tore loose from those bonds screaming, “Your fist no longer stings, my stomach no longer will live in knots, and my body will no longer be confined. Your torture inflames my spirit; I no longer cringe in shame. I will no longer suffer the pain; I will no longer live in shock or fear. My heart breaks, God did not design for it to be this way.”
She asks herself did my torturer have a soul; did he take an oath with the Devil? She did not weep, she did not cry, she did not show fear, “It is the last time,” she thought. She was not aware of the time that he poisoned her, but she knew now that she was going to die. He would never let her leave him, with her face covered with weeping water, one could barely hear her moans, and she could not escape the tragedy of her life. She will fall into a sleep from which she would not wake. Her final thought danced across her dying mind finally, she was free.

 

©2018.elizabethannjohnsonmurphree

 

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Rise and Kill the Beast…

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Rise and Kill the Beast…

 

She woke, rising from her bed; the next stop in front of the long mirror in her bedroom. My God, she thought there in the mirror was an old woman thin lips, long gray hair, crevices lining her face. She watched the face turn pale, fear rose from the pit of her stomach closing off her breath. Suddenly she grasps the sides of her face stretching her cheeks upward until the face was smooth. When had this happen, it was her face in the mirror! Was it during the dense darkness of the night that this happen? She open her mouth to say something, the words’ fell upon her ears anxious, a sham, her heart beat faster and fear hung in her mouth like hot lava. What is next, hopelessness, death? This is the stage in life that people pray to their God for their sins, or whatever they have done wrong, the end could be near, was this fear.

 
Where did the time go, the long dark braids, the nimble fingers and graceful body? The body that played tennis, rode a bike, skied over rough waters, time was so short. She was a person that shields her spirit from the darkest, deepest pits of the Hell and learns to tolerate life. Someone, whose body gave birth, lived with the Devil’s own spawn until her escape. The one who refuse to cry or shrivel in fear as she waited for the feel of a fist.
Someone who waited for the long fingers to clutch around her neck, then in the light of day hide the truth and lies, live in mystery so no one would know. She trembled but let out no sign of fear. The body allows tears to fall after the evil thing had gone away. She tried to flatten herself upon the bed made of stones, her mind fled before she could breathe the stagnant air before the extravagant retreat.

 
These pains were hard to bare, the Devil’s spawn wanted groveling, her throat already like splintered wood, why had fate brought her to this doomed place, imprisoned her to live and be lost forever. To live in torment and dire despair, her spirit continuous crawling through the fires of hell, and she wailed her doom to the pits darkness. Never knowing a peaceful life, a loving or genteel life denied. Her mind always filled with wisdom and untouched by the suffering. Sure, she was defeated, but she would someday rise and kill the Beast.

 

 

 

 

©2018.elizabethannjohnsonmurphree

 

 

Books can be purchased at Amazon.com – Poetry, Fiction and Non-Fiction

Dancing in Sunbeams- A Short-Short Story…

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Dancing in Sunbeams

Rose could visualize the little country church, the chorus of Crows flying back and forth over the gabled roof; its white washed siding. Not too far away stood a row of Birch trees beside a shallow creek winding its way through an open field green with Johnson grass. She pictured a group of black feathered Angels following a funeral hearse down the old dirt road. The rocker on the weathered porch unmoving, the sun would be glowing through tattered curtains and dancing in the nearby cracked mirror. Rose felt empty and that childhood was dead as was her beloved Grandmother.

 

 

 

 

 

The Aunts – A Short-Short Story

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The Aunt’s and the “World’s Oldest Profession”
A True Short-Short Story…

 
In the early 1800s, the hectic harbor in Mobile, Alabama was bustling with upriver planters who came to town for the annual cotton-marketing season. Along the waterfront a variety of establishments from boarding houses, hotels, saloons and other places know as the gentlemen’s entertaining facilities, as a group they were known as “Shakespeare’s Row”. During the South’s Antebellum Era prostitution ranked right up there with vagrancy and public intoxication. It later became a prohibition of any disorderly behavior public or privately. The fines for “keeping a disorderly house” ranged from $10 to $25; there were no consistent laws on the subject.

 
It was during mid-1850, when my Aunt Molly and Modena Veste found themselves visiting a distant cousin in Mobile near the waterfront. They had inherited a hotel outside Birmingham, Alabama and after working night and day for months decided to give themselves a vacation. Leaving the Veste Hotel in the capable hands of their hired staff off the two went on their seashore retreat.

 
It was toward the end of their stay when they ventured onto the waterfront and Shakespeare’s Row. Neither Molly nor Modena wavered from having a good time. When they inherited their Aunt Ira’s Hotel the entire family encouraged them to turn their lives around and make a living running the upper-class establishment.
It was during that trip to Mobil that the idea of turning the Veste Hotel into a “Gentleman’s Club” became a reality. They did not identify themselves with the Shakespeare Row prostitutes, but they did discover since their youth their need to pander with men.

 
These two young women catered to the wealthy, cards, cigars and liquor became the enticement. Upon paying a substantial monthly fee to join, a daily fee deposited at the door would give the gentleman their choice of available “Ladies of Pleasure” or “Ladies of Easy Virtue” for one hour. The city agreed to turn their heads to these nightly “Whore Parties” for a reasonable tax! A wink and a nod condoned and protected prostitution at the Veste Hotel for almost 50 years.

 
Therefore, Miss Molly and Miss Modena brought the red-light district to Northern Alabama. It was one of the few buildings left standing when Yankee troops pilfered their way through the south. The women that worked in the hotel were not cheap, but to test the virtuous caverns of the Veste sisters’ could be costly.

 

2017©elizabethannjohnsonmurphree

Looking at a blank page – Part 1

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I am so drained by the actions of the President of the United States, all politicians, lobbyist, protesters, those who hate, destroy or wish to destroy history; the news media, you get the idea… I must return to my safe place within my mind to rest.  That place is the blank page before me where thoughts come alive and I remember the stories of my great-grandmother who was the “Keeper of the Memories” for the family.  Everyone called her “Ma”.

   She told me of Fosee, a descendant of many generations of warriors.  Born in a round birch bark dwelling in the circle of a Chickasaw Over Town Tribe in what would later become Eastern Mississippi. His father had given him the name Fosee; the meaning of that name was “Bird”.   The other boys teased him because of his tall skinny body; they would jeer at him and run away singing “Little Bird, Little Bird, fly away”.   So, he played alone, kicking around the Chukka Ball in the open yard in the middle of the town’s circle of dwellings; he hunted small animals.

   Fosse’s father held a place of importance in the tribe; he was a powerful warrior, a skilled hunter.  His mother was an exotic looking woman from a Choctaw Tribe in what would become Alabama Territory.  Her beauty and gentle nature were the reasons his father has chosen her to be his bride.  Fosee was their only child, living in the same dwelling with his parents and grandparents.

   He remembered all of his grandparents.  Yet. it was his Chickasaw grandfather that he loved most.  He remembered the elegant clothes and colorful beading sewn onto the soft deerskins by his grandmother.  His grandfather’s white hair flowed about his shoulders and when he would go to the river with him to bathe, Fosee could see the dark skin engraved with the scars of war. 

   Fosee would listen to the stories his grandfather told around the cooking fires, he would see his eyes soften and glisten when he talked of the loss of family and friends in battle.  Fosee was just a boy when all four of his grandparents died from a disease brought into many villages’ by the white man.

Fosee was my great-great-grandfather…   

Elizabeth Ann Johnson-Murphree-Part 1- Fosee

Author’s Books:

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RIP Sam Shepard…

samA great American Artist 

“There are no words to describe how I feel, we have lost another great one!”

 

 

ELIZABETH ANN JOHNSON-MURPHREE BOOKS AT AMAZON.COM AND BARNES & NOBEL.COM

FLYING WITH BROKEN WINGS

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https://www.amazon.com/Flying-Broken-Wings-Charlotte-Murphree/dp/1547051329/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1499018149&sr=1-1&keywords=ann+johnson-murphree

BEYOND THE VOICES

11th

https://www.amazon.com/Beyond-Voices-Ann-Johnson-Murphree/dp/1500426709/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1499018788&sr=1-3&keywords=ann+johnson-murphree

HONEYSUCKLE MEMORIES

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https://www.amazon.com/Honeysuckle-Memories-Ann-Johnson-murphree/dp/150029070X/ref=sr_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1499018932&sr=1-5&keywords=ann+johnson-murphree

REFLECTIONS OF POETRY

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https://www.amazon.com/Reflections-Poetry-Ann-Johnson-Murphree/dp/1500168645/ref=sr_1_6?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1499018932&sr=1-6&keywords=ann+johnson-murphree

ECHOING IMAGES

66th

https://www.amazon.com/Echoing-Images-Soul-Journey-into/dp/1500366811/ref=sr_1_7?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1499018932&sr=1-7&keywords=ann+johnson-murphree

ASTERIAL THOUGHTS

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https://www.amazon.com/Asterial-Thoughts-Journey-into-Thought/dp/1540862356/ref=sr_1_8?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1499018932&sr=1-8&keywords=ann+johnson-murphree

RUTTED ROADS

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https://www.amazon.com/Rutted-Roads-Collections-Ann-Johnson-Murphree/dp/1532909365/ref=sr_1_9?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1499018932&sr=1-9&keywords=ann+johnson-murphree

SACHET OF POETRY

55th

https://www.amazon.com/Sachet-Poetry-Adoration-Aspirations-Asylums/dp/1500483354/ref=sr_1_10?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1499018932&sr=1-10&keywords=ann+johnson-murphree

MY JOURNEY INTO ART

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https://www.amazon.com/Journey-into-Art-Johnson-Murphree-2014-07-28/dp/B019NRG4YG/ref=sr_1_14?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1499019157&sr=1-14&keywords=ann+johnson-murphree

 

Thanks for reading and in advance thank you for your comments.  EAJM

 

 Painting below:  Acrylic and Watercolor created December, 2010-The First Christmas without Charlotte…

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