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My mama tells the story that when I was a gangly four-year-old kid, they hauled my kid brother and sister and I, down to a panhandle town named Hereford, Texas, for a handful of months, and my dad sharecropped cotton with this farmer west of town, and I played with Nancy Leigh Craig across the street who was two years younger and a whole head and a half shorter than I.
My mama remembers it and I will never forget, how every time I ventured next door to play with Nancy Leigh Craig, that little slip of a girl would pull out an empty glass mason jar, and Nancy Leigh Craig would fill it with heaps of dirt dug up from the dog run behind her house, and then she would fill that jar up with water, throw in a bunch of weed tops, and stir the whole mess up with any found stick.
Something - Years - Mud - Soup
You can be 40 something years old— and still be swigging down mud soup.
And then, mama doesn’t have to tell me this part, because it’s the part I can still close my eyes and see: Every time that two-and-a-half-year-old Nancy Leigh Craig and I whipped up the murky concoction? She would hold it up and tell me in her most authoritative two-and-a-half year old voice:
Mud - Soup
“Drink the mud soup!”
And I was the lanky four year old girl who did exactly what two and a half year old Nancy Leigh Craig told me to do: I gulped down that mud soup like a lap dog who could only nod.
Street - Townhouse - Tennis - Courts - Avenue
Then I’d up and walk across the street to our townhouse across from the tennis courts on 198th Avenue, and I’d whisper in my mama’s ear: “Mama? I’m afraid I’m going to die now.”
Mama, she would cup my face and say, “But...
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