2008 09 Jul

Chapter One – The Argument

Author: Shawn Categories: Violet's Vengence

“The girl needs to understand, cost Lula Mae!”

“She don’t. She ain’t no boy, unhealthy Grady! She don’t need ta learn no huntin ways. She can shoot a gun and that’s enough. This is just a phase or somethin. I’m sure she’ll grow out of it.”

“Lula Mae, I ain’t havin no young’un of mine actin like she do. She been actin like a damn fool for goin on two years now. She gonna see and learn how to behave like a normal girl. Now, that’s all there is. I ain’t sayin no more.”

She heard them yelling. She knew her Pa hated her collection of animals she’d saved from the forest. Saved from the roads. He didn’t know she went looking for them.

He’d be right mad if he knew that. But I don’t care what he thinks. I don’t care what any of ‘em think. An’ I sure ain’t huntin ‘em. He’ll have to kill me first.

She pulled the bed covers up to her squared chin and squeezed her eyes shut. They’d tried to force her to eat chitlins again tonight. But, she wouldn’t. She couldn’t. They didn’t understand that just smelling the grease made her want to puke. They didn’t want to understand.

The battle of “meat or not to meat” had been escalating every night. She didn’t even want to eat any more. She had pushed the chitlins toward the edge of the plate and ate her potatoes and green beans in silence while her Pa glared at her.

Mama had just kept wiping her hands on her paper napkin until it bunched up into little greasy strings that hung through her fingers. Between every bite she had gazed at her daughter as if she had been teleported to her table from some alien planet.

Her twelve-year-old brother, Gil, had hunched over his plate with his arm bobbing from plate to mouth like a rubber ball. His dark brown eyes flitted between his Pa and his sister underneath his long lashes.

“You gonna starve, Violet. It ain’t normal for a body to live on just greens. God gave us the animals to use.” Grady had barked.

“God gave us the animals to protect, Pa. And I ain’t eatin ‘em.” 

“An I ain’t eatin ‘em even if you try to beat me into it.” Her voice had been low. Almost a whisper.

Grady had rubbed his wide roughened hands on his paint-stained jeans until one formed a fist. Gil’s bouncing arm had frozen in mid-air, buttery mashed potatoes dripping from his fork.

“Grady York,” Lula Mae’s dark brown eyes narrowed inside her round face. “I won’t be havin no violence at this here table. The Lord God blessed this meal and I won’t allow it. Violet, take these dishes into the sink and get on to your room.”

Violet had stacked the dishes into her arms, plodded into the kitchen, and scraped the leftovers into a bucket on the back porch. Gil had scurried away and plunked himself in front of the television in the next room.

Grady and Lula Mae were silently sitting at the dinner table when Violet headed into her bedroom.

In the beginning, they had just ignored her. Then, they tried to cajole her. Bribe her. Reason with her. Made her go to bed without supper. Finally, her Pa decided countless “meetings” with the switch and open palmed smacks across her head would fix things. That’s what he called the beatings. Meetings. As if the mind was actually involved.

Violet persisted, despite the hungry nights. Despite the lumps above her temples and the moments of dizziness where she would fall to her knees and his huge hands would cease swinging. Despite the angry bleeding welts on her back. She wouldn’t give in. She recited her mantra until she fell asleep.

I won’t. I won’t eat the flesh of my animal friends. I won’t.

 

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