Growing Up, Cold, Hot

This work is a finalist in our FLASH SUITES Contest.  What is a FLASH SUITE

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Jenean McBrearty is a graduate of San Diego State University, a former community college instructor who taught Political Science and Sociology, and is finishing a certificate in Veteran Studies. Her fiction has been published in a slew of print and on-line journals including Cigale Literary Magazine, 100 Doors to Madness Anthology, Mad Swirl and The Moon, and her poetry has been accepted by Van Gogh’s Ear and Page & Spine. Her photographs have appeared in Foliate Oak Literary Journal and Off the Coast Magazine among others.  Her novel, The 9th Circle was published by Barbarian Books.


Growing Up

Donna Weatherly was often awakened in the early hours when the bars closed and the half-drunk dogs would come sniffing around the bedroom window of the house at the corner of Alexia Place and E. Mountain View Drive. They’d stand outside on the old crushed gravel drive-way—mostly college boys and sailors—whispering dares, hoping to get a whiff of estrus.

“Chase them off, God” Deanna would pray, while Donna lay still, clutching a knife under the pillow, one finger lodged in the phone’s “Operator” hole. The plan was to hold the knife straight so, if the guy got on top of her, he’d be stabbed once, as she dialed the operator and yell, “Get the police to 3609 Alexia Place!”

Prayers and pans were all the protection they had because Mama didn’t believe them. It was a tale they told to get her to quit her grave-yard shift at Aunt Emma’s Pancake House, the one that paid more in tips than wages, a fanciful tale like all the others they told to get attention.

It was 1960. The shadows on the shade were still too scared to try the window. After a while, the boys would leave, mumbling about snipes and kickin’ somebody’s ass, not knowing the lock was broken.


Growing Cold
A man of God s still a man, and a young priest is the worst of men. He’s fighting a battle of the flesh the faithful believe he’s already won. His white plastic collar proves it. Only the young guys understood, the ones he met in the bar on Friday nights when Father Sinnic took off his medal and joined the trench troops in the pussy war. Like Jesus preaching to the Samaritans on a midnight mission.

The studs would tease him, but they shut up the night he told them his medal got him a glimpse of the ‘little girls who liked sex’ . It’d been easy. He’d walked up on the porch in afternoon light when Mama wasn’t home, and they’d said, “Come in Father.” One after another, they made their confessions in the bedroom where it was quiet and private, so he’d seen the inside of their window shaded-room. There were two beds and a black phone on a table between them. Nothing else. Except one of them had two small pictures taped on the wall, above her bed: a holy card of the Sacred Heart and a magazine photo of a horse.

But they were little girls. Twelve and Fourteen. Their sins were little sins, like not bringing the laundry in off the clothesline before the air turned dewy.

It was alright. He hadn’t broken the seal of the confession, just cracked it. He hadn’t told them the younger one confessed mama had a boyfriend who visited when she was home alone, and the older one that she’d met a senior boy at Hoover High who had a car and had gone for a ride with him without asking Mama’s permission. The Catholic school uniform must belong to the younger one, then. He’d seen in laying on the ironing board,  ready for pressing. A freshly pressed white blouse was on a hangar hanging from the kitchen door jamb.


Growing Hot
“Is Summer Weatherly your real name?” The University of Kentucky advisor had underlined her name in red ink. Summer could see it from across the table, and wondered why it mattered. The issue they were supposed to address was whether she qualified for a minority for a scholarship, not whether she lied about her name.

“My mother was a quasi-hippie. What can I say?” She gave Mizz Shannomi a laughing eye roll. “Ya’ gotta love those crazy late-blooming Boomers.” It was a well studied response she’d perfected over the twenty-some years since she learned her real name, one designed to elicit instant camaraderie in people who thought parents were passé’.

But Shannomi’s face remained bureaucratically inscrutable.  “You don’t sound like you’re from around here.”

Confessing California heritage would be tantamount to confessing she WAS the daughter of the notorious Donna Weatherly, although why the sins of the mother should be visited on the daughter she’d never fathomed.  With a full-ride gift-horse staring her in the face, a pity-plea was worth a shot. “Id. rather not go into that part of my life,” she said through crocodile tears and a well-practiced half-sob.

The bureaucratic facade became benevolent. “I understand.” Summer watched her scrawl a large O.K. next to her name in blue ink. “Well, we can’t qualify you by race. There’s no way you can pass for even mulotto. ”

Just give me the money. There are other things other than race that can qualify me. I know that. Like I know the value of a petition. Read the pro se ones I wrote. To the California court demanding it open my adoption records so I could learn about Donna Weatherly—the youngest girl on record to have given birth.  To the California Department of Corrections  for a DNA test on behalf of an admitted child molester who served twenty-five years for a rape he didn’t commit. UK Law would be lucky to have me as a student. So what if I’m old. Shades of Erin Brockovich!

“But age is a protected category. Let me talk to the Dean,” Mizz Shannomi said, “I’ll mail you his decision.”

The mailman came late. 2:10. Thank God the kids were still in school when Summer opened the letter and read she’d been denied admission. She’d have a good cry before they came home with their homework and soccer practice. She got her grieving paraphernalia ready—latte from Starbucks, chocolate bar, string cheese, raspberries, an Oldies of the 60’s CD—and reread the rejection words…unable to admit you at this time…apply again next fall…signed Dean Sinnic…

Did he figure she’d seen the name in Donna’s diary and tried to find him? Father Sinnic is no longer with the Church, the Bishop’s letter read. We do not know his whereabouts.


copyright by author, 2013

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One Response to “Growing Up, Cold, Hot”

  1. Jennine Drozd Says:

    Sweet website , super style and design , really clean and use pleasant.

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