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Down Here

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Small eyes wondered about my surroundings, where are we, and why. As minutes passed, more questions than answers flood my mind as my pa silences me each time I tried to ask. Taking after my father though, I couldn’t help but be immensely curious about everything happening.

The look on his face in the driver’s seat was not hard to figure out; it was obvious he was incredibly excited. His grin stretched as far as the Mississippi did throughout the south. My pa had no shame in how he felt; he was a child from the 90s enjoying Loony Tunes, undeniably amusing.

But here I was, surrounded by a dried up corn field in the middle of nowhere after my pa had driven off the road and I had panicked he was going mad. Yeah, he was going mad; he was insanely happy. He wouldn’t tell me where we going but just smiled at my lack of knowing our destination.

I stared out the window of where my pa used to grow up during the summer time, working on his father’s farm with his seven siblings, a litter of kids like the number of rabbits in a litter. I wondered why the grass almost came up past the car’s view. I could hardly see ahead of us, yet my dad was driving right through it. But this is where my roots are, where I’m from on my pa’s side of the family and eager to receive information of interest. My pa took full advantage of that by pouring his knowledge of our history into my absorbent mind like a sponge.

The car stopped abruptly, still surrounded by an ocean of giant seaweed. Pa got out of the car in a hurry and expected me to follow. I opened the passenger side of the car and got out. My exposed legs began to severely itch by the gentle touch of the long grass. I ran as quickly as I could out of the reach of the itchy grass toward my pa. But the mosquitos’ presence didn’t help my cause or comfort knowing soon they would eat me up.

“Daddy!” I yelled, he turned in confusion, “It’s itchy!”

He laughed loudly and turned back around. “Ya should’ve done what I told ya and put them pants on back at the farm house!”

I blushed. “Ya didn’t tell me we was comin’ in long-ass grass!”

He turned around and stared me down. I knew what I had done. I was allowed to curse but only when he couldn’t hear what I had said. But since he heard me, that means I don’t get dessert and I knew it. “Sorry,” I said quietly.

We walked a ways away from the snow colored car sitting in the middle of the field we had just come from. Then we made our way over to a pile of dry-colored dirt. It was covered in specially decorated stones with faded writing on them, some standing as tall as me and some just barely the size of my feet put together. “These here are your relatives; they used to own this land. Then it became your granddad’s land, and it might one day be yours.” He smiled widely at me.

I stared at him. “Really? Wow, that’d be so cool! I could get lost in this here field!”

He threw his head back in response and laughed. “I bet you could. Ya could take some huntin’ dogs out and track down some rabbit.”

My eyes narrowed towards him. He put his hands up as if to cushion a fall, “Hey, I was just kidding!”

I rolled my eyes. “A.T’s gon’ get you when we back at home. He’s gon’ make you bleed again.” I snickered, remembering when my pet rabbit bit my daddy’s finger when he was in my room. A.T doesn’t like men.

“Lil’ turkey,” I heard my pa mumble, referring to my rabbit with a grin on his face, remembering what I did.

“Hey, Dad,” He turned to look at me. “Is Azie here?”

My dad’s grin was gone. “No, her grave is somewhere else.”

I stared at the ground. “Oh.” Azie had been an aunt of my dad’s that I longed to name my future daughter after. The name just touched me. It was an unusual southern name that I desired to rebirth into another living soul to bring the name back to life after it had died with my great aunt. The name is just waiting to live again, to identify another living person and give the gift of its name to someone special.

My pa told me about all the relatives that were buried specially in this spot. I secretly hoped I wasn’t standing on anyone’s face. But one story stuck me the most, the story about a couple. “Sofia,” my dad addressed me, “This here is your great, great grandparents.”

I examined the tall expensive graves. They were side-by-side, tall and held a detailed exterior of stone on them. They were deep in the forested part of the graves, almost covered in foil edge. While examining the tombstones, I noted that the dates towards the end of their lives were three days apart. This confused me. “Why are the dates so close together towards the end of their lives?”

My pa examined the tombstones and smiled. “These two were married couple who loved each other very much. It hurt ‘em when the other died first, so to end the heartbreak, the other soon joined the one in the grave.”

I stared at the tombstones. What a powerful love it was to hurt so much to not be with the other you loved that it kills you. I shook my head admiring what they had and hoped I could share something like that as well some day.

“Why you cryin’?” my pa asked me, startling me.

My hand was raised to my left cheek, wiping away the tears, “I want that too someday.”

He chuckled. “Well, if ya do what I tell ya, you can have that.”

Another set of tears fell to replace the ones I had wiped away. “Does your divorce impact how my future marriage will be?” I asked, full of heartache hoping it would never happen to me.

His eyes narrowed as his eyes became hateful with a passion. His grin was long gone and no laugh was hinted in his deep trembling voice. “I don’t like that ‘D’ word. And no, that’s got nothin’ to do with my marriage. Any marriage you are in someday will be one to last; I’ll make sure of it.”

I shook my head, “How can you be so sure?”

“Cuz,” my daddy said with assurance, “when I got the God of the Universe on my side I can be sure of anything as long as I know he’s 100% behind me. Which in this case, he is.” He winked at me, reassuring that everything he was saying was true. I believed him, but that didn’t help the conflict within my own soul’s fear of how my future may turn out. My future wasn’t known to me, but I had to have faith it was determined by someone, that someone being my heavenly Daddy. Despite my doubts, he’s always had my best interests at heart, even when I didn’t realize it and that’ll continue in my future as I still don’t comprehend his methods.

“I love ya, Dad,” I said in a soft voice full heartily.

He smiled and nodded his head, “I know ya do.”

I laughed, because that’s his way of returning the phrase, “I love you.” I didn’t understand that when I was little, but now I do.

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