Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal

One More Statistic

Sharon Haley


Her long,
shimmering legs
exposed beneath a brief
mini, she waits by the counter
for her

food. Her
false smile urges
me to approach. We hug.
You are getting more beautiful
every

time I
see you.
But my
compulsion to grab her,
shake away her naiveté burns
inside

my chest.
This child I
tutored on the school steps.
Her head bent low, puzzled by the
words in

her book.
Finally, they
became clear. Then one day
she said, I’d like to teach like you.”
There were

no words
to describe the
joy I felt. You can do
do it,
I say. She wanted to
believe,

but it
was not to be.
Behind locked doors at the
place she called home, her dreams were left
behind.
Are you
in school? Not now,
but I will return soon,

she lied. There is disappointment
on her

face and
I embrace her
whispering, I know you
can do it.
Her food ready, she
rushes

from the
diner to join
her friends in the battered
car idling at the curb. She
wants to

belong
and these hungry
testosterone filled youths
temporarily fill her needs.
Soon they,

too, will
discard her, and
when I see her a few
months later I ache at the sight
of her

pregnant
belly. One more
statistic nailed to the
wall to study, compute the cost
and fix.

_____

Sharon Haley’s short stories, children’s stories, and poems have appeared most recently in Long Story Short, Birmingham Arts Journal, La Fenetre Magazine, and Enpowerment4women. An excerpt from her first novel, Souls Entwined, received Honorable Mention from the 2006 Tennessee Mountain Writers. She is a member of the Tennessee Writers Alliance and Amen Southern Revelation Sisterhood Writers. She lives in Woodbury, Tennessee, with her husband of twenty-three years. Besides writing, she enjoys dancing, playing the dulcimer, and spending time with her eight grandchildren.

© Sharon Haley

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