Flumes Volume 1 Issue 1 - Page 24


By Jennifer White

Fitzie Clinch opened her eyes. Relucent moonlight poked pinholes through the canopies of ancient sycamores clustered above her head. It was so dark around her that she couldn’t see anything more than an arm’s length in front of her face and this made her feel as if she wereunderground, as if time was no longer measurable. Was it before midnight? Was it early morning? The sensation of her skin tingling brought her back to the immediacy of the moment. She sat up and recognized that she was cradled inside a ditch. She stood up slowly, pulled down her dress that was bunched around her thighs. The moon, full and shadowed like an ostrich egg in the pit of a cauldron, hung heavy as she walked east toward her house. She stubbed her numb toes on stones that poked through the smooth surface of the dirt road but didn’t feel any stinging pain. She didn’t wonder where her shoes went.

In Pigeon Holler, it was not abnormal for teenagers to work on neighboring farms. Most did it as a way to make a little spending money, but some kids did it to help their parents keep their land. That’s how it was with the Clinch family. Mr. Clinch’s back twenty of soybeans were worth no more than a dollar-forty a pound, and Mrs. Clinch’s paycheck as the county librarian barely covered the bills. That’s why their eldest daughter Harper worked on Dorothy’s egg farm.

When Harper broke her leg the third week in August, it was Fitzie’s responsibility to take over. Fitzie said nothing to her parents about being forced to work, even though that’s exactly how she felt. She didn’t say anything because there was nothing she could do about it. Fitzie

knew she couldn’t get mad at her sister even though she wanted to; she knew Harper didn’t fall off the roof of Dorothy’s two story chicken coop on purpose. She knew her sister didn’t crack her leg in three places just to see if she could. But that didn’t stop Fitzie from repeatedly asking Dorothy what in the world Harper was doing up there. Dorothy answered the same every time, said nobody had any idea; especially since Harper didn’t work anywhere near the coop.

While they were in the hospital waiting for Harper to come out of surgery Fitzie was so caught up in mourning the things she couldn’t do in the afternoon anymore that she didn’t hear Dorothy’s son Shane volunteer to walk her home from the farm. He pointed out to everyone that the