November 7, 2009

Queens of the Cattails - Chapter 6

Chapter 6

As soon as I came around the bend and the road home stretched out straight and reassuring, the angry cry I'd been holding burst out of me. I ran a few paces, but the pain shooting through my jarred bladder put an end to that. I wasn't going to make it home.

Sobbing and nowhere near a toilet, I made a desperate dash for the trees at the back of Granddaddy's fields. I could already feel hot trickles of urine, and I fought mightily against the stream.

Crying like a baby, I thought. Peein' my pants like a baby.

I squatted in the first protected cluster of foliage I found and let the bitter tears and the urine flow as they willed. It was superficial relief to an ache that had been filling me since before I could remember.

I pressed my face into my knees and wrapped my arms around my head, ignoring the mosquitoes that buzzed in my ears and lit on my exposed skin. My bladder emptied, but a fresh dread settled into my bowels when I acknowledged the trouble I'd probably meet when Mama saw me shuffle inside in such a mess.

No use puttin' it off, I thought. I smeared my nose on the back of my hand and stood, pulling my drawers up from around my ankles.

A twig snapped behind me. I wheeled around to see Uncle Buck leaning against a young pear tree, arms crossed over his chest and hands tucked into his stained armpits. "Tinkle got the best o' ya?" he said, smiling.

I froze; the rancid taste of shame, shock, and something else swirled on the back of my tongue.

Before I could reply, Uncle Buck had me at the wrist, dragging me along the way Rachelle had less than an hour ago.

"How 'bout you come with me for a bit, Margie?"

I stopped and tugged against him, but he tightened his grip.

"I can't, Uncle Buck," I said. "Mama told me to be home before dark. I gotta go." He marched on as if I hadn't said anything.

"You know, me an' your daddy was good friends before he took off. Real good friends." Uncle Buck easily trampled weeds and ankle-high saplings under his shoes.

I kept getting caught in thick cords of St. Augustine grass, and I could feel stickers collecting on the soles of my feet. That high-pitched tone returned to my ears, but there would be no clearing my throat this time to keep the word away.

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