Summertime And the Living Is...

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic


I belong to a writers group which provides positive criticism to works presented each month. The comments provided after the reading must fall within three categories: What did you like? What will
stay with you? and what was strong? Every month we are offered an optional writing prompt to help start the writing process. I had not previously used the prompts as I was busy finishing my book of
short stories “Passages to Ruth,” and simply read excerpts from those stories. In October 2017, with the book put to bed, I used the prompt, “Summertime, and the living is…” I chose to write the
story behind the wonderful song by George Gershwin.

Submitted: October 31, 2017

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Submitted: October 31, 2017

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Just to remind you of the lyrics:

“Summertime” by George Gershwin

Summertime, and the livin' is easy
Fish are jumpin' and the cotton is high
Your daddy's rich, and your momma's good lookin'
So hush little baby, don't you cry
 

One of these mornings, you're gonna rise up singing
Then you'll spread your wings, and you'll take to the sky
But till that morning, there's a nothin' can harm you
With Daddy and Mammy, standing by

 

Her shirt was soaked-through transparent. It was one of her older brother JJ’s cast-off white wife beaters. She hated that name, maybe because it rang too true ‘cause she saw Mammy some mornings before she put on her face. Trickles of sweat dripped down her throat, between her breasts. The hot plastic truck seat stuck her shirt to its back and burned her butt. She’s gotta remember not to wear those torn-off blue jean short shorts, even if they do show her off. But it didn’t really matter.

She hated her jacked up 1976 Ford F150 truck. It was JJ’s before Daddy bought him a new ‘84 F250 Custom and gave this POS to her.  The closed windows didn’t work and the AC only blows warm. Damned JJ. Daddy could have bought her a new truck, if he wanted to. Or maybe a sports car, he could afford it. She knew he wouldn’t, but, again, it didn’t matter.

She drove through miles of cotton fields, bolls bursting from the branches, sometimes she sang sad songs out loud, more often she simply hummed quietly. Just past a solitary giant Southern Magnolia she turned left, off the highway onto the Lower River Road. The road sign was barely visible behind the overgrowth. It didn’t really matter. Some kids blasted it three or four years back while road plunkin’ with a shotgun and the county never got around to replacing it.  The River Road was wet and she slowed as she drove through red clay mud puddles and ruts in the road.  Reeds and cattails lined the road making the turn blind to town-bound traffic, but it didn’t matter. “Better be careful, having come this far,” she murmured out loud.

She used to come down here all the time, nearly every day, ‘til last May. Mason would drive her down, after his work, to fish in the slow pools, casting toward fish jumping, chasing flies. Her pole was still in the gun rack behind her head. She hadn’t been back all summer, until today. She and Mason. What a joke! One time, her first time, then, nothing. No driving, no fishing, no Mason. Then in July no period. Again, this month, nothing. She took a deep breath, her breasts pushing against her wet t-shirt and suppressed a sob. “There, there,” she said to herself. “No sense in crying over… anything. You got yourself into this and you will damned well get yourself out.”

She parked the F150 in the pull-out before the bridge, under a moss laden cypress, opened the door, and slid out of the truck leaving a slick of butt sweat on the seat. She caught her reflection in the large outside mirror, long brown hair cascading over her shoulders, sweat-stringy now. She had her Mammy’s looks, and body. She knew she looked good, but of all days, today it didn’t matter. She gently closed the truck door and started walking toward the bridge, humming softly.

The river ran fast here, over rapids-creating rocks. “I bet the spray from the rapids is cool,” she chuckled. She looked down as she walked. Pink flip-flops on her feet, mud between her white toes and bright red nails, the fine hairs on her legs glistened with sweat, even her arms seemed covered with soft down.

In the middle of the bridge she climbed onto the steel pipe railing. Her pink flip-flops were red-muddy. Her toes like talons as she gripped the middle rail. She lifted her arms, fingers spread like a hawk’s wingtip feathers. “Just another predator, like Mason.” She growled.

“From up here you can almost see Daddy and Mammy’s house back in town,” she thought. “I wonder if they are watching this way,” as she arched her back, bent her legs and thrust herself out, over the rail in a raptor’s dive.


© Copyright 2018 Dave Oney. All rights reserved.

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