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HER NEW LAST NAME/Franklin Fisher NELL SLEEPS with her hand on her mother's breast until Mrs. Pope comes in, carrying chickens to pluck. Nell is put outside. She hears the door close behind her, and feels the wind warm on her back. The wind whistles in the trees. Children down in the haystack yard climb the shed and jump into the haystack and vanish. Abig boy tosses a little girl into the hay and she vanishes. Nell catches her dress on the barbs and the big boy comes and untangles her and throws her into the haystack, where she vanishes. Her brothers have typhoid fever. Nell carries their food to them from the kitchen and eats what they leave on their plates. Nell may die. Dr. Brownfield pulls up her nightgown, places a hand on her belly. She pushes his hand away. Her brother Dave will give her marbles if he can cut her hair. She keeps her eyes closed and drifts inside her fever but holds the marbles tight in her hand as she feels the hair drop from one side of her head, then the other, and gather on the cot under her neck. For a long time she is pulled everywhere in the little red wagon by her mother. Her mother takes her everywhere she goes. She is with her mother all the time. She kneels in the potato cellar while her brothers pour potatoes down onto her from the kitchen floor. Her job is to push the potatoes aside as they pour in, to make room for more. Stink bugs crawl over her hands as she pushes the potatoes. Potatoes pour in so fast she is afraid of being smothered. They cover her thighs as she squats there; they strike her arms and shoulders. The Missouri Review ยท 139 A man the others call George sits at the table and rocks it back and forth on his knees while everyone laughs. He breaks his potatoes open with his fingers. When he comes again Nell runs to her mother in the kitchen and whispers: That big man who makes the table go back and forth is in the house. That's your brother, her mother says. Nell goes back and watches him from the doorway until her mother tells her to move. A dark-haired man with a careless smile stays with them for a month. Nell falls in love with his teeth. She follows him around the house and into the yard, and would follow him into town if he didn't reach down from his horse and pick her up and carry her back to the yard. She learns his name is Gil and he's her brother too, but he has a different mother and she's dead. In the evening he plays I see you, I see you, hiding behind that chair for Nell on his harmonica while she peeks out and ducks her head again, dissolving in love for Gil. When he leaves he lifts her up for a kiss and tells her when he's a millionaire he'll buy her a silk dress. An angry man her mother's age comes to town once and disappears with her father for the afternoon. Her sister Phebe tells her he is their brother Moroni, who hates their mother. On Decoration Day they go into the fields and gather Johnny-jumpups . The boys and men gather the lilies that cover Lily Hill and put bands of them around their hats. From the back yard she hears Doc Pope swearing, and she knows his chickens have flown over the fence into his vegetable garden again, and he is throwing rocks at them. Bishop's going to excommunicate you for swearing, Doc, a man Nell can't see says. Anybody says I swear's a damn liar, Doc says. Her mother visits Doc Pope at home, taking Nell. His house is a oneroom cabin with a dirt roof. Inside, near the door, is a cobbler's bench. Old shoes and pieces of leather lie scattered on the floor. His bed is in a corner; his table with a chair in front of it is...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1548-9930
Print ISSN
0191-1961
Pages
pp. 143-159
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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