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Today's Story by Leslie Ingham

“She don’t have nothing to say.”

Shelling peas

Jeanne Ann watched the old woman shelling peas.  She was a very quiet old woman and she sat hunched up.  She never really spoke.  This was the first time it had occurred to Jeanne Anne to provoke her.

She walked up and reached into the unshelled pea bowl, took a pod out and stripped the string with her teeth.  The woman’s eyes flicked up at her, but she kept on shelling and didn’t speak.  Jeanne Ann swallowed the starchy, sweet peas, and wrinkled her nose.  She stood and stared at the working hands: they were curled up like the wicker of a basket she’d broken.  Even unwoven, the wicker was bent into curls and twists.  She tried again.  This time she reached into the bowl of shelled peas and tried to lift up a handful.  Her own hands were small and pink.  The woman slapped the peas out of her hand, and she jerked herself back.  She was still young enough to hit without thinking, and she hit the woman in the face, but nothing happened.  The woman didn’t move or flinch or anything.

Chuck stepped forward from the shadows, and called her to away.  “You won’t get anything from Grammy that way, Jaybird.  You’d best leave her alone.  You don’t want her mad at you.”  He led her back into the kitchen and poured her some milk.  “Grammy’s just old, and she don’t talk.  Hittin’ won’t maker her talk, either.  You just let her be.”

“Why don’t she talk?”

“She don’t have nothing to say.”

“Well I can talk.  I can talk lots.”

“You can talk too much.  You best go out to Mama, now.  She’s in the workshop with her paints out.  Maybe you can help her.”

“I’m not s’posed to help her.  She don’t like it.”

“Well, it’s better than hittin’ Grammy.”

“No it ain’t.”


Leslie Ingham is a founding member of the Portuguese Artists Colony.  She is currently at work on a novel.

Read more stories by Leslie Ingham


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