I’m sorry. Let me introduce myself. I’m Ty. I’m 10 years old and you already know Robert Jr., the one we call Casa. He’s 7.
We live with our mother, Lisa, and our father, Robert Sr..I don’t how old there are, my mother won’t tell me.
Our town is a small one. Daddy says it’s good to not live around too many people. Our town is on a small island right off the coast of South Carolina. My granddaddy gave it to us–the house not the island. Our nearest neighbor lives a short distance away and they have a little girl my age. Her name is Mackenzie. Mama says she’s a tomboy–whatever that is. All I know is she can catch frogs and crawfish better than Casa and me. She can run fast too. But not faster than me. She ain’t scared to climb all the way to the top of the Chinaberry tree either.
One day when the three of us were sitting under the plum tree eating green plums with salt, outta nowhere Casa says, “Mackenzie, I’m gonna marry you and we can eat green plums and climb trees all the time”. Mackenzie jumped up and smacked Casa across his lips and took off running toward her house. Casa sat there for a minute with his hand over his mouth. When he finally dropped his hand, he had a big smile on his face–“She loves me.”, he says. I just shook my head and said, “Let’s go, Casa. It’s almost suppertime.”
When we got home, daddy was in the kitchen cooking and we just stood there trying to understand what it was we were seeing. We had never seen daddy cooking before. Daddy turned around and said, “Don’t just stand there like two drunken possums. Go wash your hands. Supper is about ready.”
“Okay.”, we said in unison, snapping out of our disbelief.
The thing about daddy that I could never quite say how was that he was a man for sure—but he didn’t tell the world that and did he didn’t need big muscles or a big booming voice for it either. He just was a man whenever he showed up.
“Where mama?” ,asked Casa.
“She’s not feeling well. So, I decided to fix supper while she rest.”, said daddy.
“What’s wrong with her?”, I asked.
“She’s just a little tired is all. Now go wash up. We’re having fish and grits. And, I know how much you two love fish and grits.”
We ran upstairs to wash our hands…..We did love fish and grits. But, Casa went to mama’s side and tapped her on the shoulder. “Hey mama”, Casa said as he rested his head on her stomach.
“Hey, baby. You hungry? Your father is making supper tonight.”
“Yes, mama. I’m real hungry.”
“Well, go wash your hands baby and go eat.”
“Mama, you okay?”
“Yes, Casa. I’m just a little sleepy. That’s all.”
Mama rubbed Casa’s head and reassured him that she was fine and for him not to worry about her. Her job was to worry about him.
Casa didn’t believe mama, but his stomach with those green plums rolling around in it spoke and convinced him to go get some of that fish and grits.
We sat eating and enjoying each other while daddy told us his many fishing stories that held us captivated. Those stories always made supper so much better. But, mama was missing and her laugh was missing and Casa was not all there either. After three pieces of crispy Florida Brim and daddy’s creamy grits, I was as full as a tick and about to blow. Casa was just finishing his second piece of fish when he looked up and mama was standing there grinning. “Look at my beautiful men.”, mama said. “Hey, baby. You feeling better?”, daddy asked.
“Yes. Just looking at you all down here has made me feel brand new.”
“Mama, you want me to fix you a plate, the grits are still hot?”, I asked.
“Okay, Ty. But, not too much.”, she answered. We sat with mama while she ate and daddy cleaned up. Casa was beaming with that Casa smile.
The next day Casa asked me about mama and if I think she’s telling us the truth about being tired. I really don’t know and all I do know is they love us a lot and there are some tadpoles that are waiting for us to come and rescue them. We found ourselves out back down by the little creek that ran by the house looking for tadpoles when Mackenzie came over. “Hey, Casa. Hey Ty.”, she greeted us. “Hey Mackenzie”, we both said.
“What y’all doing?”
“Just looking for some tadpoles. You wanna help?”, I said.
“Okay”,said Mackenzie. But, I know where some are–Let’s go. We raced to the upper part of the creek where it pushed up out of the ground and joined a big pool before taking it’s journey to the ocean.
Mackenzie kicked off her shoes and got into the middle of the shallow pool, with it’s cool water swirling around as it came out of the ground. Casa and me got in the pool as well. The water felt so good in this hot sun that we forgot all about the tadpoles; they would have to be rescued another day.
I’ve had a few people make comments to me personally about the “switches” in part one. It was a fact of life in southern homes. My grandmother had switches all over the house during the summers when ALL of her grandchildren were running around and making mischief. She rarely had to take them out as a look from her was all it took for us to straighten up and fly right as she would say. In this story mama loves her boys and would never abuse them in any way. I put the “switches” in mainly as a symbol of discipline that was a last resort. These people though not wholly real are human. Thank you for reading my little story and please continue to visit and share.