Miranda changes the life of a bigot mother and her hellion daughter.
Bolls of cotton have always been a mystery to Miranda and James Salk. What's in those pricky little things that makes them puff out like that? At first, he compares the plant to a strainer. The plant just strains the white fluff out, but then she proposes, "Why would they grow something just to throw it out?"
Often, James comes home from school and lies in the white fields and soaks up the Mississippi sun. When the sky darkens, and the light falls behind the hills, James runs home to his sick mother and older sister. His father won't come home until nine o'clock, and that's because he brings his lunch with him.
James reaches the porch just as the june bugs begin buzzing at the door, and the moths strike the warm porch light bulb. Miranda, his sister, is waiting in their small kitchen. It is quaint, and they still burn wooden logs to bake, and boil.
"James, momma needs her tea." she hands him a warm cup. "Well, get up there." She orders her brother up the stairs.
Miranda wipes her hands on her dress. It is home made, so there's no problem. After cleaning her hands, she flips the bread sizzling on the skillet. In an instant, she notices that one of the pieces of bread has fallen to the floor. Miranda pinches an edge and flops it back on the hot skillet. "Hot damn!" her voice squeaks.
The kitchen is warm, and her forehead is dripping with sweat. Miranda lifted the front of her dress and wipes her forehead. She looks up to see her father, Daniel, standing in the door swatting a bug with his hat.
"Ya ought ta not do that 'round here." He looks back cautiously so that he doesn't accidentally catch too much of a glimpse of Miranda's lady. Miranda is silent, and looks back at the stove.
"Dinner's almost ready, pa." She takes the skillet to the sink after slipping the toast to the three plates.
James comes down the stairs and smells the toasted hand baked bread, "Mm! Smells like someone's helpin' sis cook!" He smirks at his Pa.
"You cut that out son." Pa looks at James. "If a woman got dirty hands, she must've done somethin' right." He smirks. James and his pa have the same devious smirk that almost always means that one or the other is up to no good.
"You two can shut ta Hell up." She looks up and hands her dad the plate without looking.
"What's this stuff on my toast?" James demands an answer for the queer taste of his toast.
Miranda pushes her greasy blonde hair out of her face, "That's a recipe that Mrs. Anne Lowery taught me one night at church. We was havin' us a good ole time an I was hungry, so she pulled out her mama's cook book." She swallows a bite and continues, "It had this funky language that I hadn't seen 'round these parts, and when she started talkin' I thought she was crazy." Her dad chuckles. "She called it her Livre de Cuisine." James' blank stare isn't a surprise to his sister when she looks back at him after finishing her innacurate impression.
"I think you're damn near crazy." James says, jokingly.
"You two best get along better." Daniel puts his bread down and begins, "I don't think Ma wants her yungins actin' like they don't love each other. Ya'll best be angels next time she gets out and about." He looks down, wipes his face, and walks upstairs without seeking any retort or snide remarks. He means business.