FREEDOMNESS

Storybooks, personal thoughts and stuFF

JUST CHILLIN’

"Oh, how I wished I could’ve told her what had happened.  How I wished I could’ve let go and allowed the tears to spill.  But I knew that if I had cried, Mama would’ve asked me what the matter was.  And if I had told her the truth, she would’ve said that I was lying.  And if she thought that I was lying … well, you know the rest.
Still, I wonder … did she know?
Did anyone know?  
Didn’t everyone know?”

“LUCY GREEN EYES”

—   

Hallelujah! It’s Raining Men

I was in Swansea one warm summer evening in 1952 walking around with some of my relatives.   It was during Fleet Week so there were many sailors in town.   I was just a skinny little twelve year-old girl at the time, so it came as a shock to me that one of them had actually noticed me.

“Hey lil’ girl,” the man called out, “I’m go’n wait for you.”

The sailor looked pretty sharp in his white, perfectly pressed suit.  But he was also very old.  I didn’t know it then, but I later learned that he was twenty-five.  Well, a little over two years passed, and who was it that came knocking at my door?  The now twenty-seven-year-old sailor.  His name was Paul Smith.

LUCY GREEN EYES

It was a day in the Spring of 1952.  Mama had already told me to go to Toy’s after school because she would be out working.  So I did.  I remember talking and laughing with my cousins when Toy suddenly looked at me and said, “You better go on out there and bury your dog.”

I was caught completely off guard.  My beloved Sandy, the dog who had been around since I was a toddler, was gone.  I didn’t ask how he died.  I was too stunned to say much of anything.  So I did as my aunt said.  I went outside to bury my dog.  Just me, no one else.

I went out to the cornfield and dug a hole.  Then I found an old cotton sack that no one needed anymore, and I somehow slid Sandy’s stiffened body inside.  I didn’t want the dirt to touch him.  I then proceeded to place the sack into the hole as I sang an impromptu hymn.  It was Sandy’s Hymn.

LUCY GREEN EYES

One day, Toby Ranch grabbed me and placed me on his lap.  I wanted to play with the other children who were around, but I couldn’t get myself free of him.  Suddenly, I looked down and caught a glimpse of his exposed mule as he bounced me up and down.  I couldn’t understand how it just appeared in front of me that way, as if it was an extension of my anatomy.  It smelled like canned spinach.  I glanced back at him in bewilderment, wondering if he even knew what was happening.  His hot breath was coming out in quick spurts like a horse snorting.

It seemed like I was on his lap for an eternity, but I don’t think it was more than a minute before I managed to free myself of his hold and jump off, all the while mirroring the smile that was on his face because I thought that I was supposed to.  But inside, oh how disgusted I felt.  Still, I made sure to keep my tears invisible, for if anyone had seen them, they would’ve asked me what the matter was.  And I knew … I just knew that no one would’ve believed me.

LUCY GREEN EYES

Believe it or not, there was one time when my mean cousin Agnes and I actually teamed up to play a game of softball.  Although Mama was against my playing such sports, I did it if I thought she wouldn’t find out about it.

Even though I couldn’t hit the ball worth a lick, softball was one of my favorite sports to play.  In this particular game one of my teammates batted for me and when she finally got a base hit, I ran excitedly to first base.  Since I was a fast runner, I decided to take my chances and stretch the hit into a double by running to second base.  Then as I stood on second, I told myself that I could make it to third.  My heart was pounding with excitement as I succeeded in getting to third base, absorbing all of the exuberant cheers of my teammates. 

Now it was Agnes’ turn to come to bat and she immediately hit the ball for a base hit.  I watched as she ran to first base and rounded to second.  But instead of running to home plate to score, I decided to stay on third base because I was afraid of being tagged out. 

The ball was now being picked up by the opposing team and thrown back into the infield, but Agnes thought that she might be able to make it to third base before the ball was thrown in.  And she probably would’ve made it but for one problem: I WAS STILL ON THIRD.

“Go, Merlene.  Go!” Agnes screamed, waving me toward home plate as she headed toward me.  But I couldn’t move, try as I might.  And within a second or two we were both standing on third base.  “Go on, Merlene.”

“No.  They go’n throw me out,” I yelled.  “You go.” 

By now the ball had been thrown back to the infield, so one of us was going to be out either way.  Agnes was older and much bigger than I was, so she used her strength to her advantage by pushing me off of third base, causing me to fall hard and scrape my knee.  I got up and walked over to sit on the front steps of the school, watching as the blood trickled down my right knee.  It oozed for a good portion of the afternoon.  I had no bandage or tissue to clean it, so I’d put spit on it and wipe it with my hand or the hem of my skirt.  Thankfully, it stopped bleeding by the time I got home.

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Lucy Green Eyes

The “M” Word

When I was a young child, I was taught that the name of a boy’s private part was his “mule” and that a girl’s was her “five-cent”.  It puzzles me now as to why the very thing that we as young girls were taught to safeguard and young boys would try to go after couldn’t be worth more than a nickel.  But I guess the elders had their reasons.

From the time that I was six years old until I was around ten, I was inappropriately touched by that old Toby Ranch.  He would never be suspected of doing such a thing because of his closeness to the family and because he always made it appear as though it was a game.  And I, being so young, knew that I was not to say anything against a grown-up who just wanted to play games.  Still, I knew inside that this game was bad.

But who could I tell?  Who would believe me?  It’s so hard being little because you’re not allowed to have a voice outside of “Yes ma’am” and “No ma’am”; “Yes sir” and “No sir”.

I did try to tell my mother one summer when she was visiting.  I would always tell her about things that bothered me.  I told her about the mean cousin who would try to break my bones with her punches.  Wuta would only make light of it, saying that I had misinterpreted her intentions or something to that effect.

One day, Wuta and I were alone in Mama’s kitchen when I mentioned to her that I was being molested, though I used a different term.  My mother suddenly began acting nervously before quickly changing the subject.  That’s when I decided that I would never bother to bring it up again.

One day, Toby Ranch grabbed me and placed me on his lap.  I wanted to play with the other children who were around, but I couldn’t get myself free of him.  Suddenly, I looked down and caught a glimpse of his exposed mule as he bounced me up and down.  I couldn’t understand how it just appeared in front of me that way, as if it was an extension of my anatomy.  It smelled like canned spinach.  I glanced back at him in bewilderment, wondering if he even knew what was happening.  His hot breath was coming out in quick spurts like a horse snorting.

It seemed like I was on his lap for an eternity, but I don’t think it was more than a minute before I managed to free myself of his hold and jump off, all the while mirroring the smile that was on his face because I thought that I was supposed to.  But inside, oh how disgusted I felt.  Still, I made sure to keep my tears invisible, for if anyone had seen them, they would’ve asked me what the matter was.  And I knew … I just knew that no one would’ve believed me.

“LUCY GREEN EYES - (excerpt)”

—   

On one particular day during recess, the children were playing softball.  It was Agnes’ turn to bat, so she asked me to hold her peppermint balls that she’d received from the teacher.  They were so perfectly round with their red, shiny stripes.  As I stared at them, I could just imagine their minty sweetness.  Just to press one against my lips would’ve sufficed.  And try as I might, I couldn’t resist taking the risk of humiliating myself.

“Can I have one?” I asked my cousin, my eyes stretched in hopeful anticipation.

“No!” she screamed.  Then she went on to play, leaving me to hold the best looking candies I’d ever seen in my life.

Believe it or not, there was one time when my mean cousin Agnes and I actually teamed up to play a game of softball.  Although Mama was against my playing such sports, I did it if I thought she wouldn’t find out about it.

Even though I couldn’t hit the ball worth a lick, softball was one of my favorite sports to play.  In this particular game one of my teammates batted for me and when she finally got a base hit, I ran excitedly to first base.  Since I was a fast runner, I decided to take my chances and stretch the hit into a double by running to second base.  Then as I stood on second, I told myself that I could make it to third.  My heart was pounding with excitement as I succeeded in getting to third base, absorbing all of the exuberant cheers of my teammates. 

Now it was Agnes’ turn to come to bat and she immediately hit the ball for a base hit.  I watched as she ran to first base and rounded to second.  But instead of running to home plate to score, I decided to stay on third base because I was afraid of being tagged out. 

The ball was now being picked up by the opposing team and thrown back into the infield, but Agnes thought that she might be able to make it to third base before the ball was thrown in.  And she probably would’ve made it but for one problem: I WAS STILL ON THIRD.

“Go, Merlene.  Go!” Agnes screamed, waving me toward home plate as she headed toward me.  But I couldn’t move, try as I might.  And within a second or two we were both standing on third base.  “Go on, Merlene.”

“No.  They go’n throw me out,” I yelled.  “You go.” 

By now the ball had been thrown back to the infield, so one of us was going to be out either way.  Agnes was older and much bigger than I was, so she used her strength to her advantage by pushing me off of third base, causing me to fall hard and scrape my knee.  I got up and walked over to sit on the front steps of the school, watching as the blood trickled down my right knee.  It oozed for a good portion of the afternoon.  I had no bandage or tissue to clean it, so I’d put spit on it and wipe it with my hand or the hem of my skirt.  Thankfully, it stopped bleeding by the time I got home.

from BABY DOLLS DON’T DIE…SOMETIMES

One evening while Adam and I were glorifying our Father, my attention was suddenly diverted to a creature of inexplicable beauty.  It stood almost as tall as my husband and possessed a shiny gloss to its emerald covering.  Its eyes were a never-ending black and it moved about in the most carefree, hypnotizing manner.  A very attractive being, indeed.

“Oh Adam, look,” I said to my husband.  “Look at the beauty of the creature which lurks in our midst.”  My husband momentarily turned his attention away from the Glory, the love-smile still stuck on his face.

“Eve, what is it about that creature that allures you so, that even the Glory does not keep your attention?”

“Oh Adam, you know that I adore our Father.  Nothing else is capable of comparison.  But of all the creatures you’ve shown to me, I don’t recall having seen this particular one of such distinct grace.”

“My dear Eve, that is the serpent,” he said, “a creature that is no more special than any of Father’s other creatures.  And I may exercise my dominion over it as well.”

My husband then proceeded to lie down and rest.  He appeared to be confused by my engrossment with the serpent.  But I couldn’t be concerned with that.  He didn’t understand how I felt.  It was as though the serpent was speaking to me in its own sly way.  And if I didn’t know better, I’d say that it was deliberately avoiding saying anything to my husband, almost as though it did not want to be seen by Adam.

“Adam, did you hear that?” I asked with a hasty thrill in my voice.  “It said for me to follow it.”

Adam’s eyes remained closed as he attempted to pull me down beside him.  But I was not tired.  I wanted to see where the serpent wanted to lead me, so I decided to follow it.  I didn’t think it would cause any harm.  I was curious to see if there were others like it and couldn’t help wondering if its female counterpart was as graceful.

It brought me over to a tree, the very tree which Adam told me that Father had warned him about.  Then it spoke, and this time, I was sure that I was not imagining it.

“Isn’t this a lovely tree?  Just look at the marvelous fruit which it brings forth.”

“Yes, this tree is lovely,” I agreed.  “But there are many other trees in the garden that are just as lovely.”

“None are as magnificent as this particular tree, however.  Look at its rich branches and luscious fruits.  I’d bet they’re just dying to be picked and eaten.”

“Yes, I guess so,” I said looking around for my husband.  I thought for sure he would’ve followed me there.  “But I don’t believe the fruits on this tree are any more delectable than the others,” I said to the handsome creature.

“Really?  Don’t you agree that their taste is just a bit more pleasing?”

“Well, I cannot say for certain, being as I have yet to taste of this particular tree.  Nor am I allowed.”

“What?  Not allowed’ did you say?  Why would God not allow Man, His most treasured being, His very own children, to taste of such exquisite fruit?”

"I don’t know my Father’s reasons, except that He loves us and does not want to see us harmed.  He said that we must not eat or touch of the tree or else we would surely die.”  At that point, I recall the serpent wrapping its body around the trunk of the tree as though embracing it with himself.

"Did God really say that you would die if you touched the tree?  If that were so, why am I still alive?”

"I don’t know.  Maybe He didn’t use those words exactly.  How about we ask Him …”

"Um – wait, no.  No need to ask Him on my account.  I can tell you the real reason God does not want you or Adam to eat of this tree.”  I waited to hear his explanation.  "God knows that if you were to eat of it that you would become like God Himself." 

I began to think about what the serpent was saying.  "But, that cannot be the reason," I replied.  "For my husband and I are already like God.  He made us in His image, and He made us to have dominion over every creature, including you.”

"Well then, you tell me the reason, Woman."

"I don’t know the reason."

"Well I do.  It is because you will receive knowledge.  Why else would it be called the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil?  It is because you will become all-knowing like your God.”

"But, we are like God.  My husband was born from Him, and I from my husband.  We have all the knowledge we need.”

"Really?  Then why am I able to touch the tree and yet live?”

"I do not know." 

As I stood there thinking over what was just said, the serpent’s forked tongue slithered into one of the fruits, piercing its soft, ripened skin and spilling some of its syrup on top of my foot.  Without hesitating, as though out of reflex, I bent over and wiped the syrup, licking it from my fingers.  It was so sweet and satisfying that I couldn’t imagine why my God would want to keep something this blessed away from us.  I stood up and was startled to find my husband by my side.

"Eve, what are you doing?” he asked me.  “Father said that I should come and rebuke the evil one right away.  Could He possibly be referring to you?”

"Oh, Adam, how could you even imply such a thing?"

"Then what is it that you’re doing to cause Father to have such urgency in His voice?"

"All I was doing was tasting of this most gratifying food."

"What have you done, Eve?  Father said that we must not eat of this tree in the middle of the Garden or else we would die.”

"But Adam, I’m not dead."  Then I looked around for the serpent and found that he had sauntered several yards away from us.  "And neither is the serpent," I pointed.

"Did he force you to eat of this tree, Eve?"

"Of course he did not force me. I tasted of it by my own free will.  And look at me.  I’m just as alive as you are.  Here,” I said placing my fingers near his lips.  "You must have a taste."  He seemed to shiver with temptation, trying with all his might to resist my offer.  "Just taste it, Adam.  Nothing will happen.”

"But Father said not to."

"The only reason Father said not to was because He doesn’t want us to know all that He knows."

"That’s not true, Eve.  We are His children.  We have a right to all that is His.”

"But we don’t know everything, Adam.  For if we did, we would not need to annoy Father with all of our petty inquiries.”

"But if we did know everything, Eve, and if we never had need of Him, then which of us would be God?  There can only be one God, Eve.  And no one should exalt himself above Him, lest they be cast down.  Don’t you remember what He told us about the archangel, Lucifer, and why he fell from heaven?  If Lucifer had been satisfied with his position, he would’ve still been one of God’s most precious creations.  But he said `I will make myself like the Most High.  I will raise my throne above the stars of God’.  And because there can only be one God, Lucifer was cast from heaven and is now known as Satan.”  My husband stared long and hard at me.  "Any knowledge that this tree has to offer isn’t worth losing our relationship with the Father, Eve."

"But that’s another thing I don’t understand, Adam.  Where is this Satan that you speak of?  He was supposedly cast down to the earth, but I haven’t seen him.  Have you?”

My husband seemed confused.  "No."

"Could it be that we’ve seen him and didn’t know it, Adam?"

"It could be.”  My husband took a moment to reflect.  “Maybe you’re right, Eve.  Maybe if I tasted of the fruit, I would at least receive the knowledge I need to discern who this evil Satan may be.  Then, being as I have dominion over all the creatures of this earth, I would be able to cast him into the pit with the other fallen angels that are bound until the appointed time.”

My husband wasted no time.  He pulled a piece of fruit from its branch and bit into it with long awaited fervor.  And then he lifted his eyes and smiled at me.  "You were right, Eve.  We didn’t die.”

"See, I told you."

"Wait until Father hears about this," said my husband as he took another bite.  "He’ll be so proud of us."

We began to run around the way we usually did whenever we were happy.  We wanted Father to know of our new discovery.  But, something wasn’t quite the same.  Something about the thought of being in Father’s presence wasn’t as appealing as it had once been.  Then my husband stopped running and just stared at me.  It was a sad, frightened kind of stare.

"Wait a minute, Eve," he said looking down at himself.  "We can’t let Father see us this way."  That’s when Adam grabbed me by the hand and we ran together to find refuge.

Lucy Green Eyes (excerpt)

                                                These Married Men

One of my shortest-lived relationships was with the twenty-nine year old preacher, Johnny McClinton.  In fact, it could hardly be called a relationship at all.  The first time he came to see me was on a Sunday.  Then he came the following Tuesday, Wednesday, and on that Thursday when he drove up to the house, Mama would not allow me see him.

“You bet’ not come out that room.”

“Mama, why can’t I see him?” I cried.

“’B’cause, he got the mark of a married man.”

“But Mama, he wants to marry me.  He’s go’n buy me a car and a house.”

“If you come out that room I’ll cut yo’ ass.”

So I had no choice but to stay in the room and cry.  I couldn’t remember ever being so angry at Mama.  Here was my chance to get out of the cotton field and get my own house and a brand new car, and she was trying to ruin it all. 

The two of them were in the living room talking for no more than five minutes when I heard Johnny’s car leaving from the front yard.  After he was gone, Mama came and told me what had happened.  She said that Johnny told her that he truly wanted to marry me.

“Son, you already married,” she told him.  She said that it took him a little while, but he eventually admitted it.

“Yes ma’am, I am.  But we’re not together.”

I saw Johnny McClinton six months later at a church function.  He was preaching in the pulpit, wearing the same suit that he used to come to see me in.  I recognized the cigarette hole in the pant leg.  When service was over, we passed by each other and he smiled cautiously, but said nothing.  I never saw him again.

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