A Small Town Triptych
Creative Nonfiction by Charlotte Hamrick
One day Mamma walked in my room and said A body could balance a coke bottle on your butt. She didn’t say if that was good or bad and I didn’t ask. I remember this because Mamma didn’t talk to me directly too much. She turned away and went back to frying up chicken in the kitchen. I went back to staring at the succulents on my window sill, wondering how they could thrive with so little attention.
I named it Sandra after my best friend. It hung in my bedroom window, long ropes of fleshy green bits so much like the long ropes of winking beads that hung in Sandra’s bedroom door. Behind the beads we reeled and rocked to Chuck Berry while dressing to go into town. Her tiny, bird-like mother was burning incense on the Buddha altar in the living room. She followed us out the front door chirping Japanese at ninety mph, me not understanding and Sandra ignoring, incense clinging to us like a cloak of protection.
We slid into a red leatherette booth at the Dixie Cafe craving Coke floats and cool A/C on a steamy Deep South day. “You Can’t Be A Beacon If Your Light Don’t Shine” drawled from the jukebox in back and the smell of fried food rode shotgun in the air. The waitress slouched by the bar with her arms crossed, a sneer on her face, eyes shooting bullets across the room at Sandra’s waterfall of black hair and almond eyes. We waited her out until she couldn’t ignore us any longer, waited real quiet then roped her in with a blast of Mother’s incense that smothered her southern fried sneer.