You Catch More Flies

The school was buzzing about the play.  The community was putting on a play at the school.  The adults, not the kids!  According to Sarah Nell, the snottiest girl in school, her mama was the teacher’s best friend.  Her mama was going to be in the play!  Maybe my mama could be in the play.  I flew home at noon to tell the news.  Mama was shocked!  She squashed that idea like a bug. “No, I’m not going to be in a play.  I am not interested in that kind of foolishness!  I have more to do than get up and parade myself around in front of folks like I think I’m something special. Now wash your hands and eat.  You’ve got to get back to school on time.”

I was very interested in that kind of foolishness.  “Well, can we go to the play?  It only costs a quarter for adults and a dime for kids. They’ll have an ice cream social afterwards.

“No.  That would be close to a dollar for all five of us.  Our rent is three dollars a month.  I am already doing Miss Lonie’s wash to pay that.  We don’t have money to waste on a play.  It’s going to take me all day today to finish Miz Watson’s dress.  I need the dollar I get from that to put on the bill at Miss Lonie’s store.  I’m hopin’ there will be enough scraps left from Miz Watson’s dress to trim that dress I’m makin’ for you.  I have two matchin’ feedsacks saved back for it.”  She went on with her budgeting plans as my spirits plunged, knowing I wasn’t going to the play.  I dawdled my way back to school not wanting to admit to Sarah Nell I wasn’t going to the play.  I needn’t have worried.  She wasn’t interested in me, anyway.

The evening of the play, I watched the comings and goings at the schoolhouse enviously, as long as Mama let me stay outside.  For once, living almost on the school yard was not an advantage, giving me a prime view of all I was missing.  Had I even suspected what I was missing, I’d have grieved even harder.  It seems Sarah Nell’s mother was in the middle of the performance when Sarah Nell swallowed a fly, along with her ice cream.  Panicking, she raced to her mother on the stage.  Just as Sarah Nell reached the heroine, she vomited copiously all over her, bringing the performance to an end.  There was no encore.

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