Short excerpt from…
Cotton & Corn
A Place, A Life, A Memory
“Richard!” yelled a pretty pigtailed girl sitting in the desk in front of his, “I’m tellin’ the teacher!”
One of the girl’s pigtails had found its way into the inkwell at the top of Richard’s school desk. Richard knew that the teacher would not believe it was an accident, so he tried to bribe his classmate, “How about I give you one of my favorite marbles and you just keep quiet? It really was an accident.”
The girl replied, “That’s what you said last time, Richard.”
“That was different. This time it really was an accident, I’ll show you.”
Richard demonstrated to the girl how her pigtails had grown long enough to reach past the top of his desk on down into the inkwell if she tilted her head back slightly.
She was a little reluctant, but countered Richard’s offer, “How about you take me to the class dance instead? We all are supposed to go, but we can go as a couple.”
Richard squirmed for a moment, thinking what was worse, being with a girl at a dance, or losing one of his favorite marbles. Finally he answered, “I guess that’ll be ok. Anyway, it’s always sort of dark in the room when the dancin’ starts.”
“Romantic…,” The girl moaned.
The girl’s name was Mildred Montgomery but everyone called her ‘Millie’ for short. Her brother met with a tragic accident the prior year. He went out to a large anthill their father had complained about in their back field and filled it full of petrol. When he lit the anthill on fire he suffered the same fate as the ants. Millie had always acted like a tomboy until that accident, then something changed inside of her and she started acting more like the rest of the girls. A story once circulated that when Mille turned seven years old she received a pretty doll for a birthday present. Lace, ribbons in its hair and just about anything any little girl would want. Her mother noticed it was missing about a month later and searched for it. She found in under her daughter’s bed with its hands tied behind its back, gaged around its mouth, and a with a fingernail file embedded in its chest.
“So, Richard,” Mille turned around with a smile.
“You think you might get me one of those pretty corsages like all the older girls wear to dances?”
“What’s a corsage?”
“Oh, silly,” Millie laughed lightly, “it’s a little bouquet of flowers girls wear on special occasions. You never seen a girl wearin' a corsage?"
Richard bore a disgusted look on his face, “Not that I ever gave no mind to.”
“Well, I’ll be,” Millie smirked. “It started ‘cause in olden times women wore a coat-like thing called a bodice that had a flower on it and—”
“Ok, I’ll get ya one. What if I was to make it myself, that be ok?”
“Oh, anything, Richard, I’ll save it and treasure it all of my days.”
Mumbling under his breath, Richard groaned, “That’s great, just great.”
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