Donna Everhart

First Sentence Fridays – Chapter 21

My grandmother left my grandfather once. The details were sketchy as to what happened between them because the adults only whispered about it. It was a curiosity to me, these adult matters. Even mundane daily events. For instance, I loved to listen to my mom and aunt when they got on the phone. Mom would “I swannee” this, and “I swannee” that, with my Aunt Marie about nothing and everything. This was in the days of no Call Waiting, so if anyone tried to reach one of them, they would get a busy signal – for hours. (they were great at multitasking too, but could only go as far as that phone cord allowed)

Sometimes I wasn’t allowed to listen in, but I was good at eavesdropping. This was also the advantage of that short cord. When they began discussing why Grandma left Grandpa, I hovered near the kitchen door more than once, simply trying to find out. If Mom said, “Hang on a minute, Marie,” I scampered to my room, grabbed a book, and looked up innocently when she appeared in the doorway.

“What’re you reading?”


“Have you put your clean clothes away?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

She went back to the phone, and I crept back to my listening spot. I learned Grandpa had a love for moonshine, what he called “Sneaky Pete. (if you read THE EDUCATION OF DIXIE DUPREE, Sneaky Pete makes an appearance) When we visited, I often saw him get a jar down, (yes, in a paper bag like I wrote about in DIXIE) take a swig or two when it was only the middle of the afternoon. He certainly didn’t hide it, yet, I never saw him stumble, slur his words, or act in any way like he was drinking.

It must have been bad enough, though. Grandma was a quiet, gentle soul. She called my grandfather, “Chili,” when she wasn’t upset with him. When she left, she went to stay with my Aunt Suzy. She got a job. It wasn’t the same for quite some time, no weekly visits, no playing with the cousins in her backyard. It was like she’d disappeared. I “heard” Grandpa went to his daughter’s house every day, begging Grandma to come home. She eventually did go back, and it was over with. Maybe he wooed her. Maybe he simply wore her down.

I think all children are attuned to the adults around them, always picking up on cues, verbal and/or non-verbal. I think body language is as powerful as the words we speak, and Sonny is keenly aware of Mr. Fowler’s every move, not only from what he says, but his peculiar mannerisms as well. She takes careful note of her mother’s reactions to his presence, such that the slightest deviation from the usual is enough to raise her suspicions.

Chapter 21


Mama was quiet the next day and it also didn’t go unnoticed Mr. Fowler didn’t show up first thing either.

5 thoughts on “First Sentence Fridays – Chapter 21”

  1. Ruh-Roh

    I must confess that I was at a neighbor’s for a large part of the day, He is a Parrothead, as is his wife, and in the rotation of music was Buffet’s White Sport Coat and Pink Crustacean. It includes that song about getting drunk and…ah, screw it. My mind stumbled into the gutter on this one. I think we are heading towards understanding the title.

    Have a wonderful Sunday, Donna.

    Oh, and I have an idea that will allow you to post Ruby Friedman’s devastating version of “Never leave Harlan Alive” on your blog.

    1. I love Jimmy Buffet but I haven’t listened to any of his stuff in a long time. My next door neighbor will make trips to see him when he comes to town. She’s a huge Parrothead and she’s also a huge Merle Haggard fan and goes to MerleFest every year.

      Hope your Sunday was great – maybe recovering from your neighbor’s shindig. . . .? 🙂

      Wondering about that idea now – and you must mean for the other blog.

  2. I just love your First Sentence Fridays and the gift of your insight. I recognize so many of my childhood antics in your blogs, the eavesdropping, the pretended innocence while looking up from a book (because, let’s face it, if we look intellectual, we can’t be duplicitous, right?). I’m looking forward to being able to read the full story!

    1. Aw, thank you, Micki! Coming from you, that’s a fine compliment!

      And yes, innocence beats out duplicity any day! I honed my “art” form, and was almost as good as Dixie Dupree. Ha!

      Thank you for wanting to read! xoxo

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