First Sentence Fridays – Chapter 16
She lived about two miles down the road from our house and I would sleep over at least once or twice a month, sometimes finagling an extra night out of what was supposed to have been a one night stay. There were also many week night visits too, the quick drop in sort where her house still smelled of a supper just eaten and the grown-ups would spend a few minutes catching up after a day of work, while us cousins tried not to get into any mischief.
Aunt Marie cussed like a sailor, smoked cigarettes non-stop, was blunt with her words, cooked southern like nobody’s business, and would threaten to take a belt to you in a heartbeat if you were getting on her nerves. In other words, I felt like one of her “young’uns.”
She would sometimes lock us (meaning me, my brother, and my cousins) out of the house if she wanted to talk on the phone
“in peace” (probably to my mother) while she smoked, and drank Pepsi. My brother and I, and the cousins owned the yard, the woods and the fields and as long as we remained within hollering distance we were allowed to do whatever we wanted. With forbidden matches, cap gun strips, pocket knives, and vivid imaginations, we roamed, explored, drank out of the creek, climbed trees, hung upside down from great heights, experienced freedom from adult supervision and felt powerful.
We were wild, savage like in our play. There would be blood by the end of it, somebody usually got hurt. Into her house we would all go, and while she took care of whatever hurt happened, she’d say something like, “If you hadn’t been acting like a fool, it wouldn’t have happened.”
The backyard warrior would be bandaged, and sent back outside. In our world, bandages were a badge of honor, and my aunt must’ve had stock in Band-Aids, Mercurochrome, or Merthiolate.
Eventually, she’d yell for us to come back in when it was time to eat, and we’d sit around her table, tanned as dark as the oak wood table, our hair sweaty, and disheveled, a bit wild eyed and smeared with dirt, but with clean hands, and eat what she put in front of us. Aunt Marie was THE epitome of a classic southern aunt. I was actually a little afraid of her, but I knew she loved me. Spending time at her house are some of my best memories.
Sonny loves her Aunt Ruth who lives in another town a couple hours away and is ecstatic when she learns she’s coming for her usual visit. Sonny can talk openly to her aunt, and with Frank Fowler suddenly in the picture, and her Mama not seeing him for who he is, Sonny wants an ally.
Aunt Ruth pulled into our drive in the blue Buick she’d had for years, arm hanging out the window and waving with enthusiasm.