H: The Fields Beyond Innocence
The Fields Beyond Innocence
*"Poet," I replied, "I beseech you by that God unknown to you, help me
escape my present state?"* The Inferno, Cantos I
Bralore was roused early by the yellow of the sun asserting itself into
the bedroom beneath the roll down curtain. The warmth felt wonderful on
her face, and she smiled even before opening her eyes. Her left hand
moved slowly to her left cheek and touched it. The roughness of her
fingertips reminded her of the day to come. This was the time of the
day she felt happiest.
"Get up, Bralore! Before your daddy comes to get you."
"Yes ma'am." Bralore took a deep breath. Then the ten-year-old pulled
the homemade quilt down and stepped quickly on her tiptoes to the back
of the door to put on her dressing gown. She walked down the wooden
steps and joined her mother and father in the kitchen.
"You look beautiful, Bralore. You must have?"
"Don't give the child a line of crap like that, makes her think of
herself instead of her work," her father said in a voice as harsh as
Both mother and daughter looked down at their plates. Under the table,
her mother slid a foot in next to Bralore's.
The disappearance of Addison, her 19-year-old brother, a year ago, was
withering for Bralore. They had been home schooled and had very little
contact with children their own age. Everything she knew about the
woods and the animals was learned from him. He was a dreamer. Shortly
before he disappeared, their father had left strop marks on his legs
for some punishment or another.
"Either finish the breakfast that God gave you or git out there and do
your chores, girl."
Bralore took a bite of the grits and scrambled eggs, and then another
until she finished. She glanced at her mother, but was afraid to be
caught by her father doing so. She left the table, placed her dishes in
the sink, and left the kitchen through the screen door.
The chicken coop was loud and smelled bad. But she walked, slightly
bent, between the rows and took the eggs from the nests. The hens no
longer cared. When her layered egg tray was full, she took it back to
the kitchen for her mother. Her father was in the field.
"Hi, darlin'. Hey, that's a nice bunch a' eggs this morning."
Her mother paused and looked at the child.
"You are such a lovely child, Bralore. I'm sorry I don't have more to
give you. Your brother.."
"Momma, I don't need anything."
"Your daddy loves you, you know. He just don't know how to show it."
Her mother was unable to look her in the eyes as she said this.
Her mother thrust her hands into her apron pockets, stepped to the
kitchen sink, and started washing dishes. Bralore left without further
comment. Her mother winced at the sound of the screen door
While washing dishes, she saw Bralore walk to the field farthest from
where her father was working.
When the child reached the edge of the field, her yellow silk hair was
almost lost in the sea of Goldenrod. She stood motionless, and then
positioned her hands over her head like a ballerina.
Dancing through the fields, Bralore picked wildflowers. Without a care
in the world, she stopped to watch Great Southern Whites and Black
Swallowtail butterflies flutter around her feet. In the distance she
saw a magnificent flower, a large Stiff Aster, splendid in its purple
petals and deep yellow center, and ran towards it. Picking the flower,
her mind so absorbed in the moment, she didn't see her brother rising
from the earth behind a hummock.
Her mother had turned away to put the dishes on the drying rack. When
she looked out the window again, Bralore was gone.
From that day on, her mother's grief at Bralore's absence will manifest
her return each spring to the fields when the wildflowers bloom.