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Explaining Rudy This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   RUDY was like me.



Selfish.



Came down to the river every morning with his lunch pail and Bible, fishing pole and grin. Big ole don't give a damn lovable sweet sweet grin. I watched him down. Until my eyes would strain.



Mother would hush me along. Forcing me morning reverie into tight black shoes and ankle long cotton dresses and tom satin hair ribbons. Teasing me into two-week pony tails or three-week corn rows and lumpy cornmeal pudding. Sweeping me down the winding path toward the school house like the balls of cat hair on the front porch. But I went. Every morning I went.



Until one morning, Mother fell sick.



That one sweet morning that Patty ate my knit socks and Pie peed in my Mary Janes. That one God-spirited, blessed morning that I saw Rudy on his same sacred route to fishing hole unknown. I followed him and felt proud.



"Wait up. Iwanttogotoo."

"Well."

"Well, well yourself."

"Well if it ain't."

"Ain't nobody. I ain't nobody."

"I don't walk with nobodies. You got to be somebody when you with me."

"You talk too much. Anybody ever tell you you talk too much?"

"Yup. That's why I go fishing, not schooling."

"My mamie said schooling is good for you. Like castor oil's good for your belly."

"No sense using casser's oil to clean your belly if ya don't got nothing to put in it."

"What food got to do with castor oil?"

"What cassor's oil gotta do with schooling?"

"You talk too much. Didn't anybody ever tell you that?"



He fell silent. Silent like the day the second form teacher led him out the door with no books. She was wrong. The books were dirty. And old and falling apart. ...



"I like the smell of daisies."

"What you know about daisies?"

"They smell new. And they yellow."

... I wanted to stand up, walk out right beside him. Perhaps even hold his hand; stop him from shaking.



"I used to like yellow."

"Yellow is the prettiest color in the whole wide world."

"Yeah, I used to like yellow.

"My mamie told me that yellow is the first color you see when you die. I can't wait, want to make a big house out of yellow."

"You always listen to what your mamie say?"



... I wanted to kick her off the porch stairs for taking you out your future. I wanted to beat her into the white pulp she wrote on and sent by Cassie Ann to the Big School Office in town. I wanted to curse her and her pale skin and dusty books with no names. And, no, I don't always listen to what my mother says. She don't know everything and neither do you.



"God, it's hot.



I strutted past him. No longer bothering to gather my dress up over my knees.



"Ain't you hot?"



As we neared the water's edge I tore out my ribbons.



"I got some ice water if ya want."



I led him and felt overjoyed. fl


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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