Excerpts from Preacher's Creek

This is from "The Sacred Fire" chapter.  I won't say anymore.


            The first snows of November had been joyful events, complete with glittering white frosting on the browning grass and the straggling vine-covered garden.  All was new and pure again, much like it must have been when God finished with His Garden of Eden.  He probably stood up after planting the last oak tree and creating a final sheep or two, put His hands on His aching lower back, and looked around at His creation with great pleasure.  God maybe even loved fresh tomatoes as much as I did, so He probably put in an extra row of Big Boys or Beefsteaks just for the anticipation of that first juicy bite of a tomato warm from His sun.  Yes, the first snow of the season was much like that, I am sure.  God probably looked down on the clean, white-covered Preacher’s Creek and smiled at how pure it was, how lovely and untouched.
            Well, it was until we had gulped down the last of the hot oatmeal, and struggled into the many layers of snow clothes and snow boots.   As if by a signal, every alive and moving child in Preacher’s Creek poured out the back doors of their warm homes like a river of flannel jackets and red rubber boots, destroying the purity of God’s snow-covered world.  I suppose God would have sighed heavily when we did that, just like Mom did at the end of every dinner when she surveyed the pieces of gnawed chicken bones and smashed peas left on the kitchen table.  “Oh, well, here we go again,” God must have muttered to the nearest angel.  The angel would have shaken his halo with an attitude of Well-what-can-you-do?
            Those were the early snows when snowmen lasted until the next snow, when snow ice cream was a treat every single winter.  Those were the snows that settled into just the right icy consistency for packing into snowballs for the next battle.  But, come February, the graying sky was an old face, aging and haggard. Kent and I groaned at the prospect of another big snow, another day pulling on and taking off winter clothes. 
That was when snow became a dreary and dreaded mess that surrounded the house in a white ocean, no longer an invigorating Arctic wilderness.  Every time we saw a promise of change peeking through patches of melted snow, tiny blades of grass through chunks of dirty snow, BAM! another snow storm.  All the thoughts about fireflies and corn-on-the-cob were buried under another foot of snow.
            Finally in March all the snow was all but gone, but the air was raw with a north wind, the ground crunchy with icy mud.  After arguing loudly about who got to use the last nub of the blue crayon, Kent and I were booted out of the warm house, with a no-nonsense warning to stay in the yard.  With our plaid jackets and knitted caps on, we gazed around at a brown ugly world, with its nude trees, scraggly bushes, and the barren garden.  It was as if God’s paintbrush had been sitting in the brown color pot all winter, and was now dried up and cracked.  We had seen His paintbrush sweep across the sky, dab on pink redbud trees, and streak the snow with tiny green blades.  What happened to that paint brush?  I sure hoped He had some extras in His shed.
            We sat on the back porch steps until our rear ends were growing numb from the cold.  “Come on,” Kent muttered through his muffler.  “We gotta find something to do, or we’ll freeze to death.”  His eyes took on a new light.  “Then Mom will come out to find us, and there we'll be lying, on the cold ground.  I betcha some wild dogs would have gnawed on our bodies, and we’d be covered with frozen blood.  Even our eyeballs would have frozen open.  Then, I betcha, Mom would be sorry that she kicked us outta the house.  Boy, she’d be sorry then.”
            The thought of some dog chomping on my skinny leg, with me lying there, eyes open, gave me enough purpose to get moving.  I couldn’t have Mom finding me like that.  She would probably cry, and I hated it when she cried.

This excerpt is from  "My Friend, My Enemy".  Kent Carter is Ellen Jo's older brother by about 15 months.  They grew up together.  Kent had serious eye problems that necessitated his wearing thick lensed glasses his entire life.  His development was affected by this, so he and Ellen Jo were even closer, as they depended on each other.  

My Friend and My Enemy

            The sun was shining down on Preacher’s Creek, specifically on Preacher’s Creek.  We knew that our town got the biggest percentage of God’s time and His resources.  We knew that up in Heaven, God was sitting at His kitchen table, having a cup of coffee that one of the angels had percolated fresh just for Him.  “Ah, now that’s mighty fine coffee there, Michael.”  God would say, gesturing for Michael to pour himself a cup and sit a spell.  “Now, let’s have a look-see at Preacher’s Creek.”  And the clouds would part, giving Him a straight down view of our town.  “Oh, My Goodness!  That girl, Ellen Jo…what is she doing in her room?  Did she go along with that thieving, lying, cheating little terror, Kent?  I thought I made her smarter than that…”  He would shake His Holy Head, causing thunder to sound.  Gabriel would slide a piece of fresh baked peach pie in front of Him.  “Thanks a lot, Gabe.  Y’all have some, too.”
            Yes, God would look down on this day, and see me, Ellen Josephine Carter, lying in my little bed in the middle of the afternoon.  I was in trouble.  I was in my room because I did what Kent wanted me to do, which was to sneak into the kitchen and try to steal the rest of the apple pie leftover from dinner. 
            Momma had the hearing of a big eared African elephant.  All the way from the living room where she was ironing and watching ‘her shows’, Momma had picked up on the sounds of my little dirty feet sliding slowly over the worn-out linoleum, and reaching up to the counter to the covered pie.  Just as my fingers touched the nectar sweet pie pan edge, Magical Momma appeared out of nowhere, smacked my hand, and hoisted me up with one arm.  Then she threw me all the way across the room onto my feather bed, roaring like the lioness she was, “Young lady, you stay here until I am good and ready for you to go.”  Well, not all that is quite true, but it is an accurate impression from a four-and-a-half year old girl.
            So there I lay, staring at the wallpaper.  It was pale lavender, covered with medallions of pale pink roses.  Faded green vines stretched all the way to the ceiling, some fifty feet above my head, where clouds gathered, and birds flew. 
            Why wasn’t Kent in the next room, suffering the same fate?  He could run away quicker than anyone else our age.  Kent simply melted into a lilac bush, or hid in Mrs. Jennings’ outhouse, or cut through Old Man Henderson’s yard to Bobby’s house.  Gone, Kent, was gone, and left me to take the punishment for him.
            Oh, it was deserved, I knew that.  Anytime we got caught, or snitched on by ol’ Barb, we deserved it.  Like the time Kent and I had stomped through Mrs. Jennings’ newly poured sidewalk—we got caught for that, got swatted with a fly swatter, and condemned to our rooms.  That was well deserved.  But why did I go along with Kent?  Why?  That is the big question.