Faye holding her latest book HALLEY  and wearing the Moonbeam Silver Medal for Young Adult Fiction.

My latest book, HALLEY, awarded 2015 Jefferson Cup Honor for Historical Fiction. Awarded the Moonbeam Silver Medal for Young Adult Fiction.   (see the following web address for more information)                                                           Available at: NewSouth Books: and Amazo

It was in the early spring–or late in the fall–because it was cold enough for my Grandfather Junkins to sleep under several quilts.  Dad was reluctant to get out of bed that morning.  It had to have been some kind of family gathering, because there were a bunch of of cousins present, all younger than me.

Maw Junkins was in the kitchen cooking breakfast with the help of my mother and whichever other adult females were present.  Maw had sent me to the spring with the milk from this morning’s milking, with orders to bring back the cooled milk from last night’s milking.  With my sister’s help, I had carried in stove wood and stacked it by the cast iron stove.  And I had been sent three times to call Dad to get up for breakfast.

“Is Sam up yet?” Maw asked when I set the basket of eggs I’d gathered on the table.

“No, he ain’t,” cousin Ralph said before I could answer.  He always liked getting others in trouble.

“Tell him I said get up to eat,” Maw ordered, looking at me over her glasses.

Muttering, I headed toward the front room.  Ralph and the rest of the cousins all trailed after me to see how I was going to pull off this feat.  Dad delighted in causing trouble.  He was probably laughing under the covers at my futile attempts to raise him.  I had shaken the bed.  I had screamed between cupped hands and I had pounded on the metal foot rail with one shoe.  All I’d accomplished was rousing the cat had curled next to Dad’s feet. It was a mangy-looking animal with one ear partly missing.

This time when I opened the door to the bedroom, I saw that the cat, at  least, was up.  It was sniffing at Dad’s clothes on the floor.  Even as we watched, the cat squatted over one of his shoes.  It was trying to use the bathroom in Dad’s shoe!  The cousins giggled.  I tiptoed over to the bedside table and got Maw’s night time glass of water and threw its contents at the cat.  “Scat!” I said.   It skedaddled.  “Dad!” I yelled.  “Maw said get up!”

All the cousins yelled too.  Ralph was loudest of all.

“Let’s pull the cover off,” I whispered.  I grabbed one corner and Ralph took hold of another and we pulled it to the floor, along with the sheet, and then stared in horror.

“He’s nekked,” Ralph’s sister Rose whispered.

He was.  We were staring at Dad’s naked rear end!  He only had on a shirt. For a moment I froze.  Then I ran, nearly trampling Ralph getting out of there.  The rest of the cousins were’t far behind.

“You’re in trouble!” Ralph said.

“So are you,” I said, though I knew that as the eldest and a girl, I would be seen as the main culprit.  People in our family didn’t show their nakedness to anybody.  And any kid who broke that taboo had to be in for a hickory switching.

Cursing erupted from the room we’d just left, and I scooted around the corner of the house and pressed myself against the side of the chimney. I decided to stay there until everyone was through eating.

No such luck.  Mama called me and told me to set the table and get a fresh bucket of water from the well.  I was right there when Dad walked in and took his seat at the head of the table.

“You going barefoot now?” Maw asked him.

Instead of answering her, Dad asked his own question.  “Whose cat is that with the chewed-off ear?”

“Ralph’s,” said his sister, Rose.  “Mama told him to leave it home, but he…”

“You’re going to clean out my shoes after breakfast,” Dad said, pointing his fork at Ralph.

“And you’ll get a switching from me,” said his mother.

“But, Mama, it was Faye that…” he began.

“Don’t try to put the blame on nobody else,” she said.  “Fool with me, and you’ll get another switching for lying.”

I kept my eyes on the floor and my mouth shut. When Ralph kicked me under the table, I smiled.

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