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The Kitchen

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Sittin’ in one of our rickety, paint chipped kitchen chairs, I watch my mud- covered boot make a thin line of dirt under the table in front of me. This repetitious motion is all I’ve energy for, as I’ve been helping with the chicken houses all mornin’. I’ve been cleaning them for all of my life, today no diff’ernt. ‘Cept one thing- I’ve ne’er been a month pregnant. Can’t tell nobody, specially my folks. Daddy already meaner than a snake and momma needin’ all the help she can get out of me. Oh my poor momma, she won’t be able to stand this’un. I won’t be able to hide it for much longer. If I onl-
“Tess! You better’n not be lazy’n around and not havn’ my supper ready when I’m ready! You good- fer’-nothin’ lazy girl haven’t done a thing all blazin’ day and …”
Pa’s voice jumps at me from beyond the screen door and the side of the house. I am already at the sink at the mention of my name. I quickly wipe up my mess on the table and rush to finish seasoning the boiled corn on the cob.
“Girl, you knew better’n than to sit there. Your daddy’s gots eyes in the front, back, and sides of his head,” my momma says as she turns the corner into the kitchen. I just turn and mumble yes ma’am, both of us knowin’ that’s all either of us can say about my daddy without facing consequences. With momma’s help, I get the floor mopped and supper ready in no time. As always, the no time it took for me to get this done was not one minute too soon before daddy lumbered in.
Oh, how I wish daddy would listen to the songs we sing at church. I can’t talk much as I’m a-gonna have a baby belly in a few months, but I am sorry, I am. I play the piano every Sunday and I believe all he ever gets from church is how many times I play clunkers. I’m always embarrassin’ his good name if my playing ain’t perfect. His name ain’t near as perfect as he thinks it is, as Bonnie and Jean had to help mend me up with he broke a chair over me. Maybe that’s why I fell for ne’er-do-well Tripp. At least he gives me nice attention, unlike my daddy and his ever-present back hand. I don’t have the privilege to get out of this house, much less the time or money needed for raisin’ a young ‘un. But Tripp did say he would marry me, and I’m turnin’ eighteen in only a few months. Maybe… I’ve got to.
“Momma, Daddy?”





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