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Excerpt from Summer in Mossy Creek

Chapter Six

Therese and the Stroud Women

by Kimberly Brock

We will be friends forever, just you wait and see.” -Winnie the Pooh

Not many people in Mossy Creek could sing every stanza of I’ll Fly Away without the hymnal and get all they words right. The number steadily decreased when you limited it to people who were only ten-years-old, well, almost ten. I could do it because I was a Stroud woman. At least that’s what my mama said. Personally, I was still not sure if I wanted to a be a Stroud woman or if I’d rather take my chances being known by my daddy’s people, the Taylors.

When she married my daddy and they were presented to the congregation as Mr. and Mrs. William Taylor, Mama stopped the preacher dead in his pronouncing tracks and told one and all that she would have nothing to do with changing her name. She said as long as she stayed a Stroud, she had a good idea who she was.

“I’m going to need that name as a reliable excuse for being crazy one day,” she said. Besides, she wasn’t comfortable giving up who she was or would be for any man. Daddy agreed, seeing as how he didn’t have much of a choice right there in front of every Stroud from the surrounding counties. It wasn’t like it had never been done before, just not in Mossy Creek. At least his daughters got the Taylor name a few years later.

From what other folks whispered, being a Stroud meant you were tackier than a flea market and mean as a snake. I’d not lived long enough to be forced to pledge my allegiance one way or the other. It worried me though, because the women on my mama’s side – except Mama, of course – all seemed like they got trapped by kids and dirt and lazy husbands who didn’t ever make enough money to pay the electric bill. They wore loud clothes and too much perfume, like talismans against failure.

So maybe I’d choose to be a Taylor. I wouldn’t wear loud clothes or perfume even if it meant I’d be more famous than Elvis Presley. I figured if I decided to a Taylor, the worst thing that could be said about me would be that I was boring.

When you’re stuck with an eccentric family and only four feet tall, you don’t count for much. You can’t even ride the good rides at the Bigelow County Fair. Most folks in Mossy Creek didn’t pay me much mind. But that was all about to change because tomorrow I’d have been on the earth for a whole decade and that meant I was on the verge of Arriving. My family was always talking about people Arriving, like the person doing it had just come into something big. I figured living for ten years ought to get me something, so I was expecting my birthday to be the Arrival of Therese Taylor.

That’s me.