Southern Stories
Steel Magnolias Story: The Feather
Sep 01/16

Steel Magnolias Story: The Feather Posted by: Aaron Stearns | 0 Comments

Each week we're sharing a story inspired by quotes from iconic Southern Movies. All stories are inspired by real events and memories.

I heard her screen door slam just as I turned on the hose to water the yard. Damn sprinkler broke a week ago, and between changing diapers, storytime at the library, washing dishes and endless baskets of laundry, I hadn’t had time to run to Bill’s Hardware and get another one. The heat had been unbearable for days, so that morning I turned on "Barney," put on my floppy hat, and held the hose myself to keep my yard from dying.

Through the chainlink fence and towering bamboo separating our backyards, I could see Ms. Irma, grey braid hanging limply down her back curved with age, cataract eyes staring at the ground. I pulled the brim of my hat lower over my eyes. Last week she called me to the fence, my youngest on my hip, and proceeded to go on for twenty minutes about how there was no man who was good for anything. I finally tore away from her and hurried inside. For years now, each time she caught me outside was worse; there was not one positive thing she ever said. Ever. It was either the weather, the government, the neighbors, or just people in general that were insufferable. It was exhausting.
The water sprayed out of the hose and soaked the parched ground. Behind me, I heard her call my name. Shit. She knew that I knew she was there.
I turned toward her. She stood at the fence, holding something out to me through the chainlink. I walked to her, the hose spraying behind me like a tail.
“This is for your little ones,” she said as I took the blue silk wrapped bundle from her. Inside were two large white feathers with black tips. I didn’t know why, but I touching them felt funny, like tiny waves of electricity running up my arm.  
“What are they?” I practically whispered.
“Put them in a safe place, somewhere they will protect those precious babies,”  she said as she started to slowly turn away. Then she turned back to me and locked eyes. “But don’t you go telling nobody where you got those.” Her eyes were like a snake’s, clearer than I’d ever seen them. “I don’t need those wildlife cowboys going through my paperwork.”

She turned and I watched as she slowly ambled her way toward her backdoor. I  When her screen door slammed behind her I turned away, feathers vibrating in one hand, and stepped into the muddy puddle the hose had created behind me.


By Paula Martin
Paula Martin was born and raised in Arkansas and received her MFA in Creative Writing at the University of New Orleans. She is a writer, teacher, mom, barefoot trail runner, martial artist, and free-thinker always packed and ready for the next adventure. 



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