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Fences Don’t Mend Themselves

August 17, 2011

I thought I’d try my hand at submitting a children’s short story to a contest. This is also a part of a blog carnival over at Once Word at a Time. The word this round was: Fences.

Here was my result.

My grandpa was a proud man. My daddy tells me so. When he was just a boy he quit school cause the teacher made fun of his shoes havin holes in them. But my grandpa wasn’t dumb. Nuh uh. He was one of the smartest men I know. I always liked to go to his farm in the summertime and help milk the cows, feed the chickens, or slop the hogs and stuff like that. It was hot and it was hard work. Grandpa didn’t mind and neither did I.

One summer when I showed up Grandpa was out in the fields. We had to go find him. He was by a broken fence. It was ninedy da-grees outside and the middle of the day. Grandpa was about ninedy himself. My daddy tried to tell him to go back to the house and wait till the day cooled off, but Grandpa wouldn’t budge. “Fences don’t mend themselves!” he declared. So, Daddy started helpin him and sent me to get a bucket of water and some cups.

Granny was a quiet woman. She always smelled like peppermint but carried sweet coffee candies in her apron pocket – just for me. She was soft and fluffy too. I loved to hug her. And she loved to hug me – she told me so every time. I guess we were both just so huggable. She and Granpa were funny. They’d fuss over dinner and over the chickens and even what was on TV, but they never meant nothin by it. Daddy used to tell me, if you listen real close, what they were really sayin when they fussed was, “I love you, honey.” “I love you too, dear.” But you had to listen real close. I didn’t have to listen real close, I knew it in my heart all the time.

That hot, pesky summer the cows kept escaping out that hole in the fence. It’s like they knew to go right to that spot and it would give way. I bet Grandpa and I fixed that spot ten times. And every time, when I’d get hot and tired Grandpa’d say, “Fences don’t mend themselves.” I sorta got tired of hearin that all the time, but I guess it was right since them cows weren’t gonna fix the fence either.

Now there were some neighbor boys three miles down the road, a couple of brothers right my age, Bobby and Dan. They’d come on around and help with my chores, which for a city-boy didn’t feel like chores but more like fun, especially when you had someone doin it with you hoopin and hollarin. Grandpa didn’t mind either. We’d spend all morning in the barn cleanin up the hay. Then lots a times we’d head out to that spot in the fence and help nail wire back up or hold the fence post while Grandpa drove it back in the ground.

I sure seemed to sprout up that summer too. Come near August my pants were floatin up to my ankles. I got to where I only had one good pair to wear to church on Sundays. This one last Sunday me and the neighbor boys were playin some tag on the front lawn, sorta showin off for one Mary-Gene Autry sittin on the stoop steps of the church, while all the grown-ups were talkin. Just as I was makin a fantastic twist avoidin Dan’s tag, RRRRRIIIIIIIPPPPP!!!! It had to be the loudest rip I ever heard in my life. Everyone stopped and looked at me. My Grandpa just dropped his chin and started shakin his head.

I turned my head as much as I could to my back-side and saw a tear as long as a railroad spike and my underwear hangin out! My Granny started hollerin for me and I thought for sure I was in trouble. She took inventory of my hide and decided we had to go. I began to protest, I hadn’t won a tag yet, but Granny declared in her best Grandpa voice, “Jimmy, fences don’t mend themselves!” Mary-Gene smiled at me with a giggle and I blushed as I covered my backside. We walked to the car and headed on back to the farm. That was the best summer of my life.

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