Tea in the Afternoon
Three Southern Short Stories
Bliss Strikes a Blow
In which a Southern lady takes a stand
"Turn on the other side of that tree. There used to be
a signpost that said 'Waverley,'
with an arrow." The woman, her eyes bird-bright, waved an age-spotted hand
toward an opening in the tangled undergrowth along the pockmarked concrete
ribbon that made up South Carolina Road 326. No sign endured to point the way.
"You need to know where you came from, Alice Ann. You can't be a person of
substance without strong roots."
Alice Ann blinked to clear her eyes of the sun's harsh
brilliance as she turned the car into the drive. Almost obscured by rampant
vines and briars, the rutted track curved gently into the woods.
Tragedy forces estranged family members to face each other
Jean wakened with a jerk, brushed a tangle of blonde hair
from her eyes, and reached out to check her son. The dim glow from the
instruments and controls on the headboard bathed him in eerie green light. Her
eyes followed the steady drip of the IV fluid down the tube into his arm. His
chest barely moved under the sheet, so shallow was his breath.
She laid her hand on his forehead for what must be the
thousandth time in the last three weeks. The gesture was meaningless; his fever
had been gone for twelve days now. She did it out of habit, did it because
there was nothing else to do. He seemed cooler than before, but perhaps he only
seemed so because she was warm from sleeping in the vinyl-covered chair.
In which Bertie Gilchrist plots to get the
car of his dreams
The black Grand Wagoneer gleamed in pristine glory. Bertie
circled it, kicking the oversized tires, admiring its rugged good looks. He
held the door for his blue tick hound, then slid in behind the wheel. "This
is the one, Blue. The turkey shoot is nearly upon us, and we must have this
magnificent vehicle. We’ll have room for the gear and Sam and that no-good
hound Runner-Boy. Maybe a few more of our fellow sportsmen." He waved his
hand toward the dog. "It’s got everything—air conditioning, radio, the
works. All we have to do is get Maeva Deane to buy it."
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