Dried up and brittle

a shell of their former selves

Cicadas buzzed around her head, her feeble arms and gnarled hands unable to rise high enough to shoo them away. Pistol, younger than his sister by only 10 months, had the vital chore of waving a thin cardboard fan from Heston’s Funeral Home to keep the pests at bay.

His shock of ginger hair stood up at all angles as if he had been electrified by the crackling heat of the sweltering July afternoon. He used the fan, saved from a recent burial service of a contemporary of the old woman’s, more to move the hot air around his face than as a weapon against the beetles annoying his Meemaw.

Pleased that his parents considered him old enough for this important responsibility, Pistol was still afraid of the old woman. Wizened and hunched, with wispy white hair thinner than Big Daddy’s nearly bald head, her rubbery lips sunk in on her toothless smile. Her face reminded Pistol of an old apple he found in the spring house one winter.

Wads of white foam collected at each corner of her lips. Pistol’s older sister, Scout, convinced him this was from a colony of spittlebugs she kept in her mouth. With that image hot in his mind, he never got close enough for her to hug or kiss him, Because of his fear, he was also never close enough for his fanning to be effective.

His father, standing to one side of the yard with the men beneath a spreading oak tree, had removed his Sunday coat and tie. Wet stains were growing under his arm pits and down his back. Shade from the tree giving little relief from the oppressive sun.

Mother, looking cool and fresh despite the heat, was with the other ladies in the kitchen, putting final touches to the potluck dinner about to be served.

The family was gathered to observe Meemaw’s 97th birthday. More a vigil than a celebration, each year was expected to be her last.

Rule of thirds

Trifecta, a weekly one-word prompt, challenges writers to use that word in its third definition form, using no less than 33 words or no more than 333. The week’s prompt is: Observe [verb \əb-ˈzərv\3: to celebrate or solemnize (as a ceremony or festival) in a customary or accepted way

17 Comments Add yours

  1. EVERY image is hot in my mind. And those last lines, perfect! Wonder if she has an inheritance ;)


  2. Your imagery is so vibrant and so distinctly Southern in feel. I also love the idea of the spittlebug colony placed in his mind by an older, gently tortuous sibling. And I loved the idea of the party being a vigil for the soon to be deceased.
    Thanks for playing. Come back for the weekend challenge. We’d love to have you.


  3. Imelda says:

    What a nice description of the granny, the scene, and of the heat. :-) I can almost imagine myself right in the place.


  4. chrstnj says:

    Excellent use of details. You managed to be incredibly descriptive without overdoing the language.


  5. You set the scene so well. I almost want to fan myself. The description of each of the characters was so vivid. Engaging story. Nice work!


  6. I loved looking in on this family. What a great view you provided!


  7. a great response to the prompt with tons of sensory detail, lots of visuals to bring me right in to a snapshot (sweat stains on the men) and believable kid thoughts and fears too. Can see the fanning, and GROSS on the spittlebug colony!!!


  8. Lance says:

    If you grow up in the south like we did, this scene is a rite of passage, regardless of your age.

    The food, the weather, the bugs, the awkwardness, it’s all vivid to me.

    The names are great but the last 2 lines were stunning.


  9. Like all the above, I loved the name Pistol. And it was such a true-to-life touch that he considered his disgusting little job an honor. Nice touch!


  10. Picturesque and wonderful writing.


  11. gene3067 says:

    I love th name of the children and how Scout teases Pistol while feeding his fear.


  12. Carrie says:

    I can picture the wizened up old granny. And There is no way I’d be kissing spittle filled lips :p Yuck!

    Fabulous imagery


  13. Oh! and the kids’ names. Pistol = perfect.


  14. Heather says:

    Ewwww. I’m still stuck on the cicadas and the bugs. I can just HEAR them buzzing around! Eeeeek!


  15. k~ says:

    The figurative language was displayed well in your story… I enjoyed every dried up bit of it ;-) Yeah, Jester is right, the names rock!


  16. Oh! And the kids’ names!! They rocked.


  17. I loved the spittlebugs and the gentle humor of his fanning being too far away to be effective. Poor MeeMaw!


So, tell me what you really think:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s