Melody Magazine

James Hubert Blake High School

Dirt Roads

Dirt roads don’t lead you nowhere. That’s the last thing daddy said before he went to go find concrete. He left mama with five children and a damn penny. It’s 1932, and we lived in a small house down by the Mississippi, that is exactly one hundred and thirty two footsteps wide and six feet deep. My name is B. It aint short for nothin’. All the other town chillun keep makin fun of it cuz its only one letter. The truth is, mama and daddy can’t read well. None of us can, so all my brothers and sisters are named one letter. Just easier that way I guess.

The day K died still taunts me. My younger brother J and I were playing out in the corn fields when we heard K scream. She was the prettiest amongst us. She was 16. She stood 5’8. Thin and curvy. Her lips, thick and puckered. See K had that stare that could cut wood and an attitude that was so slick and bold. That’s why we dressed her in rags. Daddy said he didn’t want any boys comin round here looking for her.

Soon as J and I heard her scream, we raced right through the corn field towards our little shed where mama likes to keep tin cans and old wood. On the dirt road lay our little sister, knees crouched and head bent. She didn’t say nothing when we asked what happened. She laid on the dirt floor, pointing towards the empty road.

She done lost her mind again, said J.

Shut yo mouth, I said to him.

 A while back, K started havin’ these nightmares. She would wake up late at night and start fussing and crying. It got so bad that daddy would whip her and tell her to shut up. So now, she just runs out to the shed and fusses there. It hadn’t happened in a while and we thought it went away. Well until today.


Up the road, we saw daddy walkin towards the house. Soon as K see him, she starts fussing all over again. Daddy heard her and started walking towards where we were.

Didn’t I tell you to shut your damn mouth, he yelled.

 He was clutching a beer bottle, but with his free hand, he, he managed to grab her skinny body by her arm and pull her off the dirt road. He shook and spat on her. Told her she was a good for nothing slut. He told her that she wasn’t worth nothing.

Daddy stop! You’re hurting her, I yelled.
 He stopped shaking her, but wouldn’t let her go. Then he looked at me, squinted his eyes and spat on my bare feet.

You aint worth shit either, he said.

Then he turned to J.

Matter fact, all you chillum aint worth shit! Look at yall. Can’t even afford to have more than one letter in your name. Yo mama done got pregnant and had five of you bastards. What am I supposed to do with five chillun?

Then he threw K across the dirt, and spat again.

He looked at her.

 You think you pretty huh? You think you too good to be in this family? Always walkin round here like you worth something. You wanna know what I do to girls who think they too good for me

He spat. Then he chuckled and took a sip from the bottle he still held in his free hand

I show them how much they’re really worth.

He turned around and started walking back down the road. He didn’t get very far from us before he stopped and turned back around.

These damn roads won’t lead yall nowhere. This town aint shit. These people aint shit. Yall aint shit!

After saying that, he reached into his trousers and pulled out a penny. He aimed it right at my chest.

That’s all yall are worth

He spat again. He kept spitting until his saliva turned the dirt dark brown. Then he looked at us again. First at J, then at me, then finally at K.

He turned around and started walking back down the road. He kept walking until we could no longer see him, but we heard him yell “dirt roads don’t lead you nowhere” one last time.

That night, we didn’t hear K scream. She made it so that nobody would ever hear her scream no more. She freed herself.








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