“Why, there you are sugarplum! Have you been sitting here all this time?”
Anna looked over her shoulder at the maid waddling down to her in a homespun dress and her hair falling down in strings around her copper face. She smiled and fluttered her fan, enjoying the small breeze as a respite from the dry summer heat. “You can tell Mama I’ll be right up, Martha.”
Martha sat her aching bones down on the crooked wooden bench, which groaned considerably under her weight. “You know, if I didn’t know you better, I’d say something was eating at you.”
She fluttered her lacy fan again, but stared off over the cotton fields. The slow, sticky day left a salty smell in the air. Martha wasn’t one to surrender, and Anna knew that, so she waited for the nosy maid to start poking her nose around. Anna didn’t mind that so much – seemed Martha cared more than her mother. The old woman stared at her with round coffee eyes, and Anna looked down and away, pretending, as she always did, to be uncomfortable and ashamed of her petty secrets. She traced circles on her soft brown dress and listened to the crinoline crinkle beneath it. Martha slapped her hands on her stained apron and stood up, shaking her head.
“If you want to keep Mister Hartford waiting all day, that’s your business, but I don’t care much to listen to your mother go on about the lemonade that she and I both know that I got up with the dawn squeezing lemons for.”
“I’ll be along in a minute, Martha.”
The maid shook her head again, and waddled up the hill towards the house, grumbling something under her breath that Anna didn’t care to listen to. If Mister Hartford was willing to wait two more years to marry her after their engagement, he could wait another ten minutes.
A crow cried overhead, and Anna fluttered her fan and stared and the fluffy white clouds. A lady would take her time.
The prompt: Write a piece of creative non-fiction in which turns of phrase, dialect, slang, or colloquialisms feature prominently. Choose ONE moment and explode it. Please, no laundry lists of phrases. This is a memoir, not the urban dictionary. Let’s keep it to 400 words.
Author’s Note: I have always been struck by the prominence of the Southern accent, as in the Southern States of the United States of America. Growing it in New England, we grow accustomed to hearing people speak a certain way – we have your Hartfordians, the Boston (“Bahstin”) people, New Yorkers (“Yahkahs”), and so forth. In a very non-diverse setting as southern New Hampshire, a genuine southern accent is rare, but I have always enjoyed it. There is something about the sound of the voice that automatically links the mind to the idea of Southern hospitality. So inspired by that, as well as the image above, this short story is about a girl in the early 1900s whose family is somewhat stuck in the past, and is her mother’s hope of bringing the family to fame and fortune. This moment, in Anna’s mind, is before she meets her unsuspecting suitor. I’d like to try and make this a running story, so please let me know any nitpicky detail that is off, and could use improvement.