Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal

Meadow Run

Patricia E. Patterson


Callie ran down the dusty, country road, her bare feet bruised and bloody from the rocks. She had to get away. The verbal battles cut deep into her soul and the physical beatings ripped her heart. Her heart pounded. She could hardly breathe, but she pushed her legs faster.

A tall oak tree at the side of the road provided a place for Callie to rest as her hands moved up and down on her swollen belly. She moved to the far side, away from the road and tried to take long breaths. As her gulps slowed down, she felt her heartbeats return to almost normal. Through low hanging branches, her eyes captured the tall slender steeple of a small white church sitting in a meadow. Using her last spurt of energy, she hurried through the meadow toward the steeple.

The church door was unlocked and Callie entered into a small sanctuary. Three old wooden pews sat on one side, three on the other side, and a small aisle that led up to a dilapidated pulpit. Sunlight entered through a window making the painting of a saint, whose name she didn’t know, seem alive. A calm entered her body as she crept to the first pew.

She couldn’t remember the last time she’d been in a church, yet she sensed a peace take over her heart. Callie looked around; no one was there. She was alone, but not alone. She sat down on the hard wooden pew.

Callie thought of her mother, before the cancer. Now, she had no one to hold her hand. She glanced down at her bloodstained feet, wrapped her thin arms around her body and over her unborn child. Unruly chestnut hair fell forward as she bowed her head. Slowly she brought her arms in front and clasped her cracked hands together in prayer.

How do I pray? What do I say? Callie raised her head. Colors of light from the stained window touched the walls, the floors, then her hands, and warmth spread through her body. Her heart made words flow and her lips began to move.

“Marmy, I miss you. I need to see your face, smell the fresh-baked bread from your kitchen. I want to feel you tuck me into bed and know you can’t. I did it for you last year, but nothing says I can’t want it. Sam doesn’t understand how lonely I am without you. He has these rages and everything’s out of control. It’s a rotten marriage that cuts me into small pieces. I wish I were with you now. No, not really ‘cause I’m gonna have a grandchild you’ll never hold. But, Marmy, things are gonna change soon.” Callie looked up and watched the sunrays fade. “How? I don’t know, but when they do, I’ll tell you everything.”

She backed out the door, afraid she’d lose the warmth and the serenity her body felt, and fell into a pair of strong arms. Callie screamed.

“Whoa there, miss. I didn’t want you to fall,” a low, soothing voice said.

Callie turned to stare at this voice that came from a tall, thin man dressed in faded blue jeans with a white collared shirt of a priest.

It can get to you,” he said. “I’ve been here close to twenty years. Still feel the peace wash over me every time I go inside.”

“You-you, the preacher?” stammered Callie.

“Got that right. Anything I can help you with, miss?” he asked as he observed the thin body, swollen stomach, bare feet and the small, worn gold ring on her left hand.

“No. I’ve been helped this time, but I’ll be back.”

“Fine. I’ll look forward to your next visit. What shall I call you?” asked the priest as Callie ran down the steps and into the meadow.

“You can call me Father John,” he hollered after her.

Callie slowed down once she reached the middle of the meadow. She watched the soft breezes touch the grass and sway the small yellow wildflowers. She looked up at the blue sky. Marmy, can you see me? Callie reached the road and had no way to go but home.

Sam stood in the middle of the dirty, rocky road. His muscled arms flexed tight and his large stubby fingers knotted in fists. She saw his narrow eyes and smug smile.

“Where the hell you been? You think you can play in the pasture like some little girl? Well let me tell you, woman, you got a husband with needs of his own. Now git.” He grabbed her by the arm.

“Sam, turn loose.” Callie yelled. “I know how to get home.”

“Wouldn’t think so . . . you running away like that. When you gonna git over that your sweet Marmy’s gone. Like way gone, way under,” he bellowed. “Maybe you should have gone with her. It’s like you ain’t here anyway.”

“Sam, it’s over.”

“Whadya mean over? Only when I say so,” Sam said in a fierce voice. He stomped down the road, pushing her small body ahead of him.

Callie turned her head. She saw the white steeple glisten in the last rays of sunlight and a different world. Callie kissed one of her fingers, drew a small cross over her pregnant belly, and whispered, “I promise you, we’ll see that other world.”

***

Patricia E. Patterson's poetry has been published in Wildacres 2002 and Lessons Learned Anthology I and II. Story House published a flash fiction piece in 2004. She’s a member of Georgia Writers Association. She’s attended numerous creative writing and poetry classes, and has completed her first novel. She resides in Atlanta, GA.

© Patricia E. Patterson

Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal ISSN 1554-8449, Copyright © 2004-2012