Hopedale, A History in Four Small Stories


Eli Naylor

ONE MORNING IN THE FIRST year of the twentieth century, when Issaquena County had only begun to be cleared of trees, a little girl named Margaret was playing in a pile of sand when she saw a wagon come creeping across the bridge and turn onto the road to the house.  The wagon was filled with black people.  Two grown people on the seat and many children in the back.
            Margaret stood up and watched the wagon move along the road.  When it passed the fence that separated the yard from the pasture she waved and the children waved back.  Margaret ran across the yard and up the steps to the porch.  “Some people are coming,” she told her mother.  “A lot of them.”
            “From the floods,” her grandmother said.  Her grandmother was sitting in front of a sewing machine making a curtain.  They had only lived in the house one year and they weren’t through fixing it up yet.
            “Let’s go and see who it is,” her mother said.  She straightened her hair with her hands as she moved across the verandah and opened the screen door and went out onto the steps.  The wagon had stopped twenty feet from the house and a tall man with a grey beard had climbed down and was walking toward them.  He was a very thin man and he carried his hat in his hand.  Margaret’s mother waited for him to approach and let him speak first.
            “We come from Deer Creek,” the man began.  “Where the floods are happening.”
            “Do you need food?”  Mrs. McCamey asked.  “We can feed you.”
            “No, Mamm.  We need to leave a boy somewhere.  He lost his folks in the flood and we can’t keep him.  We’re going to Anquilla to stay with my auntie.  We can’t take any more than the ones we got.”
            “What kind of boy?  How big is he?”
            “He’s a good boy.  He’s eight years old.  Eli,” he called to the wagon.  “Get down and come over here.”
            A boy Margaret’s size climbed down from the wagon and came to a stand beside the man.  He was a clean little boy, wearing a blue and white checked shirt and some overalls.  His face looked like a place where nothing had happened for a long time.  He stood quietly beside the man, not moving, his hands folded in front of him.
            “He’s not sick,” the man said.  “He’s a good worker.  They worked over on Panther Burn Plantation.  It’s all flooded now.  The house is gone.  His momma and daddy were good people.  They worked for Mr. Cortwright.”
            “Where are you from, Son?” Mrs. McCamey asked.  “Where were you born?”
            “Up by Deer Creek on Panther Burn,” he answered, looking her right in the eye.  “I helped in the kitchen.  I can make mayonnaise and I can churn.”
            “Are you hungry?”  It was Margaret’s grandmother talking now.  She had come down from the screened in porch and was taking over.
            “Yes, Mamm,” he said.  “I could eat.”
            “You all go and sit at that table under that tree,” her grandmother said.  “We’ll send someone out with cornbread and molasses.  Margaret, go tell Baby Doll to bring food out for these people.  Let me talk to the boy,” she told the man.  “Come on, Boy.  Come here and let me see about you.  What is your name?”
            “Eli Naylor, Mamm,” he said.  “My name is Eli Naylor.”
            “You say you can make mayonnaise?”
            “Yes, Mamm.  I can hold the oil and drip it while my momma beats it.  And I can churn and make butter and sweep the porches with a broom.”
            “Could you stay here if we keep you?  You won’t get lonely and run away?”
            “I have to stay somewheres,” he answered.  “I have to have a place to be.”
            “Then leave him here,” she said to the man.  “Do you know how to write?”
            “I can write.”
            “Then I’ll give you a piece of paper with our mailing address on it and you can send word of where you’ll be when you get to Anquilla.  How much is flooded on Deer Creek?”
            “Everything is washed away from Panther Burn to Mr. Charlie Larkin’s place.  The Red Cross came and helped some people leave.  They gave us food and quinine for the children.  Eli’s had quinine every day.  I don’t think he’ll get sick.  I can leave some of it for him.”
            “No, we have it.  You save what you have for your children.  Come on over to the table now.  You eat, then you get on to Anquilla before night comes.  The mosquitoes get bad after dark along the bayou.”
            “You all is lucky the bayou didn’t flood back here.  What do you call this bayou?”
            “Steele Bayou is its name.”
            “It’s Lucky Bayou, is what it is.”  He followed his children and his wife to the wooden table under the huge old sycamore tree and they ate cornbread and molasses and drank cooled tea and then they took their leave of Eli and climbed back into the wagon and rode off down the road and across the bridge.  Eli stood beside the fence waving at them until they were out of sight.  Then he followed Margaret into the house and through the parlors and back into the kitchen where he would live for the next seventy years.
            This was in the old times, in the time of floods and malaria and yellow fever and starvation, when the Mississippi Delta was being tamed and made into a place where men could live.


There had been three weddings in four years.  Three times they had decorated the parlors and the verandah and the halls and set up tables with linen cloths and napkins and polished the silver and filled the candlesticks with candles and brought the Episcopal priest up from Rolling Fork and married off the girls.  First Margaret, then Aurora, then Roberta.
            Now they were having funerals.  First Mr. McCamey, then Doctor Finley.  That was all the men they had, except for Guy, who was in school at Mississippi State.  They had the husbands of the girls, but they all lived away, in New Orleans and Indiana.  The McCamey men had been dying young ever since old Margaret’s grandparents had come down the Mississippi River in rafts and built the town and the church and the plantations.  They had died of yellow fever and malaria from being on the river building levees.  Now they were dying of cancer from being in the fields with the DDT they used to kill the boll weevils.  The black people weren’t dying of cancer yet.  Only the white men were dying.  The black people would die of it later, but the white men were first.
            When Doctor Finley couldn’t stand his pain he took morphine and went to sleep.  When Mr. McCamey couldn’t stand his he went out into the yard and hung himself from a tree that looked out across the bayou.  He did it in the early morning so Man would find him when he came in at dawn.  It was Man who had to cut him down and go up to the house and tell the women what he’d found.  Man was six feet seven inches tall.  When he got through telling the women and seeing that the body was taken into town to the undertaker he went to the store and had Mr. Cincinnatus sell him a bottle of whiskey and then he saddled a horse and rode up the Deadning and sat out in the field he and Mr. McCamey had cleared when they were young and he walked around among the small, early-summer cotton and drank all the whiskey and cried and thought about Mr. Mac swinging in the wind like a sail, just swinging a little bit in his suit pants and shirt and tie still tied around his neck. 
            “It’s the poison they been putting on the plants,” Baby Doll told him, when Mr. Mac got sick.  “It’s all that poison.  I told you to wash it off your face and hands when you be moving it.  It’s got that bad smell.  You need to wash it off when you come in from spraying it.”
            “We’re going to be spraying it from an airplane soon,” Man had told her.  “Mr. Bubba Wade is fixing that old plane he’s got up on his place so he can fly on top of the fields and spray it on and we don’t have to carry it no more.”
            “Who’s going to run this place now?” Baby Doll asked after the last funeral was over.  “Now all the men is dead except Guy and he’s too young to run it.  He’s in Starkville.”
            “He can come on home.  Me and Mr. Mac wasn’t that old when we started Esperanza.  I wasn’t much older than Guy is.”
            “Guy could run it,” Baby Doll said.  “But they don’t want him to.  They want him to play football.”
            “Then Miss Nellie and Miss Margaret got to run it.  Mr. Wade can tell them what to do.  And I will run it like I always do.”
            “You can’t write.  You got to write to run it.  You should have gone in the school when they had the teacher here.”
            “They didn’t have the school.  We didn’t build it until after we built the store and I was grown by then.”  Man walked away from Baby Doll and went back up to the store to talk to Mr. Cincinnatus because he didn’t like to talk about who knew how to write and who didn’t know how.  He was the strongest man on Hopedale.  He didn’t need to write anything down.  He needed to get someone to drive into Rolling Fork and get some parts so he could fix the plow on the tractor.  He needed Mr. Cincinnatus to close the store and get the parts and some engine oil for the engine. 

            Eli Naylor was sixty years old when the men died.  Aurora’s husband came down from Indiana and paid off the debts on Hopedale and put a new roof on the house and stayed a week going over the books and paying bills.
            “Can you take care of these women now?” he asked Naylor.
            “I’ll do the best I can.”
            “Do you have a gun?”
            “We got Mr. McCamey’s guns in the case.”
            “You got people you can depend on?”
            “I got Man and I got Sears and we got Mr. Cincinnatus at the store.  Miss Margaret’s got her pistol but we don’t need it.  No one’s coming on Hopedale to hurt us, is they?”
            Okay.  Okay, then.  Guy won’t be home for two years.  He has to finish his education.  It’s going to be up to you, Naylor.  You have to be the man.”
            “I’ll do the best I can.”
            “You call me if you need me.  You know how to use the telephone?”
            “I can use it if I have to.  I know how.”
            “All right.  All right then.  I got to get back to my job, Naylor.  I got to go home tomorrow.  It’s up to you now.” 

            After Mr. Dudley left Miss Margaret came into the kitchen and looked things over.  “We have to clean out that cupboard,” she said.  “We’ll get weevils if we let it go.”
            “We been throwing everything in there.  We had so many funerals we don’t know what’s going on.  Abigail and Juliet were in there all the time eating cake when they were here.”
            They pushed the table and chairs out of the way and started taking things off the shelves in the cupboard.
            “Go get that paint out of the garage,” Miss Margaret said.  “We need to paint these shelves before we put things back on them.”  She pulled a shelf board out into the light and Naylor took it from her and laid it on a chair.  Then he went out the door to the hall and down the hall to the porch and down the porch stairs to the garage and started looking for the paint. 


November, nineteen hundred and sixty eight.  Hopedale Plantation, Issaquena County, Mississippi.  It was three in the afternoon and the mail carrier’s truck had come and gone two hours before but Naylor still wouldn’t go to the store and get the check unless Margaret went with him and that meant they both had to wait until Miss Nellie had time to drive them in the Buick.  Naylor walked to the store every day except the day the checks came but Margaret never walked to the store because it got her shoes dusty and gnats came up from the bayou and got into her hair.  There were no gnats in November and no mosquitoes either.  The only bugs left to see were a few large grasshoppers in the picked field that had been the pasture when Mr. Floyd was alive and there were riding horses.
            It was four thirty when Miss Nellie finally got up from her nap and straightened her hair and put powder on her face and told Sugar to get the car and bring it around to the front door.
            “Come on then,” she told her mother.  “Let’s take him down there.”
            Margaret took off her house shoes, which were all she wore now because shoes hurt her corns.  She put on silk stockings which she had fixed with elastic so the stayed up under her dress and slipped her feet into the uncomfortable leather shoes.  She straightened her back and walked out onto the porch to wait for the car.  Naylor came out from the kitchen to join her.
            “It is a check,” Margaret told Naylor for the tenth time that year.  “No one can use it for anything until you sign your name to the back.  It’s only a piece of paper until you sign your name to it.”
            He was silent.  He wasn’t going to argue with her because he had been arguing with her for sixty six years and he knew it did no good.
            “This is ridiculous,” Miss Nellie said.  “You walk to the store every afternoon unless the check is there.  It is only a quarter of a mile to the store.  You can see the store from here.”
            “I needed to get some cinnamon anyway,” Margaret told her.  “It’s all right.”
            Sugar drove up with the Buick and opened the doors for them.  “I could drive you down there,” he offered.
            “No, I’ll do it.”  Miss Nellie slid her five feet two inches into the driver’s seat.  She could barely see over the steering wheel because Sugar had moved her pillow so she got back out and they found the pillow and she arranged it on the seat and she got in again and her mother got into the front passenger’s seat and Naylor got into the back and Sugar closed the doors for them and Miss Nellie started the engine and they drove along the gravel road that led from the house past the pasture and beside the bayou to the store.
            “I might as well get some gasoline while we’re here,” Miss Nellie said, and stopped the Buick beside the gasoline pump that stood between the store and the schoolhouse.  Naylor got out of the back seat and opened the door for Margaret and then the door for Miss Nellie and they all went into the two room store which was run by Margaret’s grandson, Cincinnatus, whose father had died when he was small.
            “You all come to get the checks?” he asked, although he knew it was why they were there.
            “Yes, he’s going to sign his and we want you to take it to Rolling Fork to the bank,” Miss Nellie said.  “I’ll put Momma’s in my account when I go in on Monday.”
            “I could take them both,” Cincinnatus offered.  “Unless you’re going in anyway.”
            He walked over to the mail boxes and took out two letters from two separate boxes and handed them to Miss Nellie.
            “Tell him about the quarters,” Naylor said.
            “He wants a roll of quarters for the slot machine,” Margaret said. “Give them to him now.”
            Cincinnatus opened the cash register and took out a roll of quarters and handed them to Naylor and then they opened the government envelopes and took out the checks.  Margaret signed hers and handed it back to Cincinnatus and then Naylor signed his and handed it to him.  Margaret’s check was for three hundred and ten dollars and Naylor’s check was for three hundred and seventeen dollars.  No one knew why the difference was there and no one had ever questioned it.
            “We need some Wesson oil,” Naylor said.  “There isn’t an inch left in the can.”
            “I only have it in the half quart jar,” Cincinnatus said.   “Take that until we get in some more.”  He reached up on a shelf and got the oil and then Margaret found the cinnamon and Nellie took down a bag of ground coffee and they set all the things on the counter and Cincinnatus rang it up and made a bill and Miss Nellie signed it and then Cincinnatus walked them to the car and filled it with gasoline and put them all in their seats and waved as they drove back towards the house.
            “It’s ridiculous to make Momma go to the store every time your check comes,” Miss Nellie was saying to Naylor.  “Just because Man and Baby Doll filled your head with that mess.”
            “Leave him alone, Nellie.  It doesn’t hurt me to go to the store.  It’s all right, Naylor.  I wanted to get cinnamon anyway.”
            “We got to have it before all them come down here at Thanksgiving,” Naylor said.  “Is Miss Zell going to be here?”
            “Don’t you all change the subject,” Miss Nellie said.  “I don’t mind driving you down there but you can’t go on believing a pack of lies.  The government sends you the checks because they passed a law in Washington to take care of old people who have worked all their lives.  They are not mad at anyone because they have to do it.  No one is going to hurt you because you sign the checks.”
            “Miss Zell went to a lot of trouble to sign us up for this,” Margaret added.  “It is called Social Security and Zell had to fill out a lot of forms and write letters so the checks come.  All the old people are getting them, not just in the delta but all over the United States.  If the government wanted to harm the people who get them they would have to harm thousands and thousands of people.”
            “We’re going to have to get them turkeys early this year,” Naylor said.  He was tired of listening to them tell him about the checks.  He knew all he needed to know about the checks.  “Last year I never did get them thawed out after they’d been in the freezer up at Mr. Coon’s.  How many of them are coming to Hopedale this year?”
            “I’m not going to talk about it anymore,” Miss Nellie said.  “I’ve had my say.  You can either believe me or believe a pack of lies Man told you to make a fool of you.  He knows what he told you isn’t true.”  

            They arrived at the house and got out of the car and went up the steps and Naylor and Margaret went into the kitchen to start supper and Miss Nellie went to her bedroom and lay down on her bed to finish reading her magazine.  She had hardly gotten settled into a story when the telephone rang and she had to get up and go to the table to answer it.  It was her daughter in New Orleans calling to tell her that her husband had been asked to go on a trip to Russia with the President of the United States and she was going too. “What’s going on at Hopedale,” the daughter asked, when she was finished telling her news.  “What have you all been doing?”
            “The same thing we always do,” her mother answered.  “Naylor believes the government is coming to Issaquena County to drown all the old negroes in the bayou so they won’t have to pay them Social Security and Momma won’t make him stop believing it, so we have to drive him down to the store to sign the check.  She babies him so much.”
            “What does he do with the money?”
            “We made him a bank account in Rolling Fork in case he gets sick and has to go to the hospital.  It’s about two thousand dollars now.  Zell started all this.  She filled out the forms.”
            “Well, I have to go now,” the daughter said.  “We’re going to dinner with the Charbonnets.  I’ll talk to you on Sunday.   Bunky and Sharon will be here.  We’ll call you then.”

            Miss Nellie’s oldest daughter hung up the phone and went to her dresser and started fixing her make-up.  It was getting harder and harder to call Hopedale and talk to them. It was her home and she missed it and she loved her mother and her grandmother but there was nothing to do for them.  Their lives were winding down and they didn’t like to come to New Orleans anymore and stay with her.  They wanted everyone to come to them and she was too busy to go down there all the time.  She called her younger sister to talk to her about it.  “We’re going for Thanksgiving,” she said.  “We need to get them down here so we can take them shopping and get Grandmother some shoes, but they never want to come.  Maybe they’ll come back with us after Thanksgiving.  There’s no reason they have to be there that time of year.  Coon Wade’s farming the place.”
            “We’ll take some shoes down there when we go,” her sister suggested.  “I’ll call Grandmother and find out the sizes.”
            “We need to take her to a good foot doctor.   They should come to New Orleans, but they don’t’ want to do it.”
            “They went to Jackson last month to stay with Aurora.  Dudley sent a car for them.  We should send a car.”
            “I’ll ask them when I talk to them on Sunday.”
            “I wish we could do more for them.”
            “We do all we can.  They don’t want us to do things for them.  They are used to doing things for us.  They’re already getting ready for Thanksgiving.  Is Nelson going hunting with the men this year?”
            “I guess he is.  I don’t particularly want him to.”
            They were silent.  They had both lost a son, one to a drunken driver, and one to an accident with anesthesia during surgery.  They knew the world was full of danger and uncertainty and they could not forget it.  Their sister in Jackson had never lost a child.  She was still light hearted, but they would never be light hearted again, no matter how much they pretended that they were.

            Miss Nellie got back up on her bed and went back to reading the story in Good Housekeeping Magazine.  It was about a girl in Nebraska whose young husband died in the Second World War.  She remarried and had three children.  Then she got a letter from Germany.  Her first husband wasn’t dead.  To be continued.  Miss Nellie closed her eyes and tried to imagine what she would do under those circumstances.  Well, she would find out next month.  Good Housekeeping came the first week of each month.  This one had just come a few days before.  They shouldn’t have these continued stories, Miss Nellie decided.  This was too much waiting.

            In the kitchen Margaret and Naylor were arguing about when they were going to start making the cheese straws for Thanksgiving.  Then they started arguing about the turkeys.  “If you leave them out too long they can spoil,” Margaret was saying.  “Doctor Finley said if you freeze them and then thaw them out you have to cook them until there is no red anywhere and that’s too dry.  They get listeria if they sit too long.  People can die from it.”
            “We need to get some turkeys that never are frozen and put in that freezer at Mr. Coon’s place to begin with,” Naylor said.  “I’d rather have chickens than have to have these frozen ones.  You can’t get the dressing in them right.”
            “Well, that’s what we have now.  You have to be in the modern world, Eli.  It’s the modern world now and that’s where we live.”
            “If we had some chickens we could make a nice dinner when they come.”
            “Well, we don’t have chickens and turkeys come frozen from the store and that is what we are going to cook and that is that.”
            Margaret was sitting at the wooden table with a cup of coffee in a gold banded cup that had been Nellie’s wedding china.  Naylor was sitting on his chair by the door.  On the first night he had ever slept in Hopedale Margaret’s mother had made him a pallet on the floor beside the door so he could feel the heat coming in from the back fireplace and he had kept his chair there ever since.  It was his place.  He had a cup of pot liquor and cornbread in his hand and he was tasting it while he talked to Margaret.
            “When those potatoes are finished cooking I’ll make some potato salad,” he said.  On the stove a pot of potatoes was boiling and he was watching them.
            “You better not let those potatoes cook too long,” Margaret said.  “They’ll fall apart if you don’t get them out on time.”
            “I know when to get them out,” he said.  “Look out there, Miss Maggie, it’s getting so dark.”
            “It gets dark early this time of year,” she answered.  “It’s November.  That’s what happens.  We are moving farther away from the sun.  The on December twenty first we start moving back toward summer.”
            “I hope we do,” Naylor said.  “I don’t like it to get cold and dark.”
            “Well, it does.  That’s how it happens.”
            They were thinking about the darkness of November but then Sugar came in and started talking to them.  “I got the hose and washed the dust off the Buick,” he said.  “Now I’m going home.  You all want me to make a fire in the dining room before I leave?  We got a pile of good firewood out back.  I could bring some in.  When Mr. Floyd was alive he always wanted a fire in November.”
            “That would be very kind of you,” Margaret said.  She stood up and ignored the pain in her feet and started toward the dining room to help with the fire.  Naylor put down his pot liquor and went to work on the potatoes.
            In awhile a beautiful fire was burning in the dining room and Margaret started getting out the china and placemats for their supper.
            The phone started ringing.  Margaret went back into the kitchen and took down the receiver and answered it.  It was Aurora calling from Jackson.  “You all getting along all right?” she asked.
            “We’re very well, my darling girl.  Naylor’s making hot potato salad and Sugar’s building us a fire.”
            “Margaret’s worried about your feet.  I want to come and get you and bring you up here to a doctor.  Could I come do that next week one day?”
            “There’s nothing wrong with my feet.  Is every thing all right with you, Sugar Pie?”
            “I think you’re wearing the wrong size, Babbie.  I want to take you to a man who can fix some of the corns and get you some shoes that fit.  Margaret’s worried to death about it and I told her I’d come see about it.”
            “Then come on down.  We could take Naylor too.  He could use some new boots.  He has two thousand dollars in the Farmer’s and Merchant’s bank now.  From his Social Security checks.”
            “I will come down on Wednesday then.  Write it down so you don’t forget.”
            “Come on then, Honey.  I can’t wait to see you and hold you by the hand.  We’ll be waiting for you.”
            Margaret hung up the phone and said a little prayer of thanks.  Then she turned to Naylor, who had been waiting to see who was calling.  “Aurora’s coming on Wednesday to take us to the shoe store,” she told him.  “So get Sudie to give you a haircut and get all those hairs off your chin before she gets here.  Tomorrow we’ll have to find Baby Doll and get the parlors dusted.  Don’t cut those potatoes up so small, Eli.  They soak up too much mayonnaise when the pieces are that small.  And don’t forget to put some celery into it.  Nellie likes a lot of celery in hers.”
            She walked over to the refrigerator, refusing to pay attention to the pain in her feet, and opened the door and got out the celery and took it to the sink and started cleaning it.
            “I know how to cut up potatoes,” Naylor muttered just loud enough for her to hear, but not loud enough to solicit an answer.  “I guess I been cutting up potatoes without any help from anybody since I was by my momma’s skirts on Panther Burn.”  And he went on cutting, not giving in to the sadness of thinking about his Momma and times that were dead and gone.

            There are places on Hopedale Plantation where the topsoil is thirteen feet deep.  Cotton will grow there and soybeans and if you make a vegetable garden and just turn the soil a little bit and throw down the seeds you can turn your back and when you return there will be tomatoes and corn and green beans and bell peppers and okra and every kind of weed and grasshopper and caterpillar and earthworm and roly-poly and ant and wasp and dirt digger known to man and in June, butterflies and moths and anything else you need to have plenty to look at if you get tired of talking to any people who are around.


It was another November when Margaret fell on the floor in the back hall and the ambulance came and took her to the hospital in Greenville and all the girls started driving there from all over but only two of them got there in time to hold her by the hand and talk to her.  Roberta had been away on a trip to New Mexico with her husband and only got there in the middle of the night when it was already over.
            The family came and there was a service in the Episcopal Church with the new young minister from up in Ohio reading the service in a nice, clipped manner.
            Then they drove out to Greenfield’s Cemetery and buried her in the shadow of the church her father and her uncles had built beside her mother’s grave and the graves of all three of her mother’s husbands, all of whom had been fathers to her and loved her and helped her in every way.
            Naylor stood way back behind the family and wouldn’t let anyone talk to him about it although he did agree to ride back to Hopedale with Aurora and her husband and Miss Nellie.
            He didn’t want to talk to anyone about it, even Mr. Dudley, who was always good to talk to about anything.  He wanted to think about Margaret up in the clouds walking around on things so soft nothing would ever hurt her feet again and he was wondering what she had to eat up there and if they had anything to eat or if they just had to be hungry even if it was in heaven.
            “Miss Babbie’s at the Pearly Gates by now,” Mr. Dudley was saying to cheer up the car.  “She’s probably through the gates and being fitted for her robes and harp.”
            “Can she see us, you think?” Naylor asked, being drawn in against his will.  “What you think they eat up there, Mr. Dudley?”
            “They have ambrosia and nectar,” he said.  “That’s what my momma told me they had.”
            “They have anything they want, but they don’t want anything,” Aurora added.  “People don’t get hungry in heaven, Naylor.  They are too busy thinking about other things.”
            “How you know that?” he asked.
            “She doesn’t know,” Miss Nellie turned to him and put the last word in.  “No one knows about heaven, Eli.  That’s the only good thing about dying.  You get to find out what happens when you die.”

            The next November Naylor got to find out.  He went out to his little house behind the kitchen and he lay down on his bed and went to sleep with all his clothes on because he was so tired he couldn’t take them off.  Then he didn’t wake up and we don’t know what happens next because no one gets to find out about dying while they are alive.
            He was buried next to Margaret and her mother and all three of her mother’s husbands and then a whole world was either dead or walking around heaven either thinking about things or hungry or not hungry or busy watching us to see what we are doing.





Sun Tea
by Richard Stephens