Spit On It
Leah Holbrook Sackett / Literary Fiction / October 19, 2020
Nancy wailed like any baby when wet or hungry. She grew into her quiet phase. Her Dad said Nancy had a soft mouth, then rained down kisses and praise for keeping a cool head. Dad was a union negotiator for Sweetgum County, he earned his living among the loud and willful. He appreciated the silence of home life. Nonna thought the girl needed some encouragement: a hunger in her belly to speak up for herself. One Sunday at Nonna’s house, the children found a dead blackbird in the yard. Nancy’s cousin Wayne took off his shirt and used it to nestle the dead bird in his hands. The kids were loudly debating on the name of the bird. Nancy thought it was useless, but perhaps sweet to name the bird. Wayne decided they should take the bird to Nonna.
“She’s old. She’ll know about funerals.” Wayne said.
“We’ve got to name it first,” Nancy’s cousin John said.
Wayne and John, brothers, had inflated egos from their namesake, John Wayne. Wayne was the eldest, so he always got his way. The children continued to argue across the yard with her little sister Barbara declaring the bird should be named Daphne. The children escalated their argument with volume, except for Nancy, who became silent at the edge of the brouhaha as they turned the corner to find Nonna in the tomato garden.
“Nonna, look,” Wayne said. “We found us a dead blackbird.”
Nonna walked up to the children, then began shooing.
“Lordy, children don’t be touchin that thing. It’s full of germs,” Nonna said and then spit on the ground.
Nonna insisted the children drop the bird, and she spat on the ground again. It was resurrected in Wayne’s hands and flew off to the West.
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