Friday, June 4, 2010

Voice Thingy, Dr. Paca style

Now that the dissertation is finished, Pacatrue has nothing to occupy his time...during the Hawaii.....anyway, he invoked the name of the Goddess Robin and called us to present voice offerings of our own works. 

I wrote three entries for the last Clarity of Night contest; this is one I did not submit.


“I made you a new housecoat, momma.” Eve held out the garment.

“You may sew better than you clean my kitchen, but I don’t need a new housecoat.”

“You know Pastor Bob is visiting this morning.” Eve had rehearsed this part. “Your purple housecoat is in the laundry.”

Edith fingered the white lace running down the front zipper, the black bows stitched at the neck. Eve had counted on her mother’s lifelong weakness for bows. She relented, and allowed herself to be dressed. While Eve styled the older woman’s stiff white curls, Edith prattled about election results.

“A Negro in office. We’re a country of heathens.”

“Pastor Bob would say the Lord works in mysterious ways,” Eve murmured boldly.
“Don’t be foolish, girl. Saint Paul says, ‘What communion hath light with darkness?’ Darkness, Saint Paul says.”

Blue veins popped out of the crepe-paper skin on Eve’s hands. “People are people, momma, no matter their skin color.”

“None of that. Thought I cured you of that when that King man got shot.”

“That was forty years ago.”

“Don’t I know it,” her mother snapped. “And we’re still no better off than to get a Negro president.”

April 4, 1968. Edith had made Eve scrub the kitchen floor with a toothbrush for wearing a black armband after Martin Luther King’s assassination. A ribbon, actually; one of Eve’s few hair decorations.

Forty years later, that same ribbon sat eloquently against the white lace of her mother’s new housecoat.


  1. Love it. You spoke it beautifully of course, but I really like the way Eve persists in quiet rightness (while Edith persists in her obnoxious whiteness, I guess). The only thing that threw me was the single use of Edith's name--for a moment I thought there was a sister. And I love the use of "eloquently" in the last sentence. It wasn't until my second read that I realized it wasn't "elegantly"!

    Here's a thought: In November, we should coordinate some sort of group recorded read. I don't know how it would work, but could be fun.

  2. Very cool and you've done some acting, haven't you? Why is it that you and Pete can do southern accents better than me and that's what I grew up speaking?

    The piece is most interesting because I both support and disapprove of Eve. She obviously is on the right side of things. At the same time, you'd like her to have done far more in the last 40 years.

    Exquisitely read. I could only think of my own disfluencies while listening to yours, Pastor Aerin.

  3. A crafty tale beautifully read! Love the ribbon. Great detail.

  4. What a gorgeous thing to wake up to! Aerin your voice is like honey - natural, golden, sweet - and I could listen to you all day. I loved the piece as well. Edith isn't just an obnoxious racist she is also a pathological bully and control freak. She's not averse to punishment but mostly I think she uses Eve's sense of duty (in itself a magnificent, internalized, control mechanism) as a rod of power over her. These tiny acts of silent rebellion are how Eve lives with herself. (I imagine in the 40 years since the assassination of Martin Luther King there were many such acts of civil disobedience).

  5. Hah! So sad how some things never change but I love the rebellion of the ribbon. This is lovely and I love your reading. I could totally imagine this on the radio.

  6. Beautifully done, Aerin. I feel sorry for battered-down Eve.

  7. Thanks, y'all - based on a true story: my mum. Of course, she grew up and became a huge social justice activist, but she was 12 when she was punished for putting a black ribbon on her arm.

    Writing-wise, it's not outstanding, I know (which is why I didn't submit it!) but it was fun to write. Thanks for stopping by!

  8. Methinks Edith needs to brush up on her hermenutics a bit. I think we can say with certainty that the Apostle Paul didn't have that in mind. The irony in the ending is quite nice.

  9. You read beautifully. I love the difference between their voices and I love how the story unfolds and the resolution at the end. You just know that Eve is up to something and it's great to see the small victory as she puts one over on her mother. (Although I want to grab her and drag her away from the abusive relationship now and tell her not to waste the next forty years.)

  10. That mother-daughter relationship where the daughter continues to be treated like a child her entire life is just so typically Southern, isn't it? Perfectly captured.

  11. I thoroughly enjoyed this story, especially hearing your voice.



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