locally-grown

in the South

i.  you wake up under the willow tree, your hands covered in red. must be strawberries. strange, though, how you can’t remember anything. stranger still, strawberries don’t grow this time of year.

ii.  you watch the kudzu vines stretch out over roads, houses, trees. it can grow ten feet a day, they say. yet it always seems unable to cross over the churches’ holy grounds.

iii. there are so many abandoned houses. more unoccupied then lived in. a red x appear on your neighbor’s door. you shudder. they’re next.

iv. “grow up in the South, stay in the South”: the mantra is repeated over and over. no one ever seems to leave. you don’t know who’s guarding the borders or why they keep you here. you don’t ask questions.

v.  smoke and the smell of roasted meat fill the air. someone’s having another bonfire. you ignore the screams.

vi.  don’t take candy from strangers. a man in a red car appears in the street. obediently, you leave your house to visit him. returning his pointy smile and admiring his horns, you take the sweets he offers you. he ain’t no stranger.

vii.  haint blue keeps the spirits away. all the houses are covered in it. the paint’s begun to chip on your house and you hurry to repair it. sun’s going down. the hairs stand up on the back of your neck. paint faster, paint faster, before it’s too late.

viii.  you laugh with the girl who just stopped by the bar. nigh breathless, she speaks again. she slips and her real accent comes through. her face pales. the room goes quiet. all but the humming in your ears. outside, outsider, outsider. you step forward, butcher knife raised.