Happy Release Day
Never cower in the shadow of shame.
In 1972 on a hot, late spring day in Georgia, five-year-old Noble Thorvald plays contentedly alone in her suburban backyard. Her only companions...an imaginary professional football team.
As she plays in her world of wonder and adventure, Noble is unaware of the challenges life will hurl in her direction - challenges that will redefine her more than once.
Fighting Kudzu is the lyrical saga that traces Noble's life as she emerges into adulthood and discovers herself.
#young adult #YA #family #southernfiction #alcoholism #comingofage #comingout #family #divorce #football #kudzu #magnolia #music #Atlanta #Georgia #TheSouth #lesbian #GLBTQ #gay #highschool #teenager #TheSeventies
The house was quiet and dark. I removed all of my cards from the bag as well as the heart with a mouth and the special valentine from Jill. I quietly walked down the hallway, “Mama?” No response. “Mama, where are you?” I stopped at her closed door and leaned into it to see if I heard anything. Nothing. I slowly turned the knob and opened the door.
Mama was lying in the bed, still and quiet. “Mama?” I whispered. I went to the edge of the bed and sat beside her. “Mama?” Another whisper.
She opened her eyes and stared blankly at me as if she didn’t recognize me. I smiled down at her. “I want to show you something. What I got at school today.” I pulled the cards out onto her bed.
She sat up partially. “What the hell are you doing?”
“I wanted to show…”
She cut me off in mid-sentence. “Get the hell outta here.”
With that she flung her arm across the bed and my cards scattered on the floor. I felt the heat of tears beginning to sting my eyes. I crouched on the floor and began to neatly collect the cards.
“I said get out!!”
“I’m getting my things.” The tears were flowing now and I had to gasp to be able to speak.
“I want you out now! NOW! NOW! NOW!”
I grabbed what I could hold in my arms and I ran from the door while she continued to scream, “NOW! NOW! NOW!” I slammed the door behind me and leaned against the wall in the hall. I slid down the wall until I was sitting on the floor. I looked at what I was able to salvage of my valentines. There weren’t many, and the one from Jill was not there.
I tried to stop crying, but I couldn’t. I managed to get the heart with a mouth, but now it was torn and crumpled and one of its eyes had been torn off. I cried softly as I tried to smooth it. The house was dark and quiet. The only sound was of me trying to stifle my sobs as I attempted to organize the remnants of my valentine jackpot.
The heart was lying on the floor looking up at me with a small tear down the center of its forehead. A broken heart. It made me think of Mama’s description of what heartbreak was. She said when someone breaks your heart, things between you and that person will never be the same. She had struggled to describe what a broken heart actually felt like.
At this moment, I understood why she had struggled so. I knew that I was feeling heartbreak, and it was hard to describe. Once I was watching Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom with Marlin Perkins. The show had been about python snakes. Marlin explained that pythons did not kill by biting, because they have no venom. The python kills its prey by wrapping around its torso and squeezing. Every time the poor trapped animal exhales, the snake tightens. For the prey, breathing gets more and more shallow until it eventually can’t breathe at all. It dies a very slow, painful death by suffocation.
This is what I thought heartbreak felt like. I could barely breathe and I felt that any minute the struggle would end, and death would come, slow and painful. Mama had just broken my heart, which meant things between us would never be the same. The python tightened its grip again and I fell to the floor. I lay crying among my torn valentines, struggling to breathe.About Mystic:
Author Mystic Thompson is a veteran educator who has taught Physical Education, Social Studies, and Reading at the middle school level. Additionally, she has been both an Assistant Principal and Principal at the high school level. She has worked in Georgia, North Carolina, and California.
She currently teaches at a charter high school in the greater Los Angeles area, where she is also a member of the Board of Trustees. Fighting Kudzu is her first novel. She has begun work on a sequel that is currently entitled Downhill Running.