Gentle's Holler
Kerry Madden
Viking, 2005
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Gentle's Holler, Chapter One, Roasted Peanuts (cont'd)

"That's right," sniffs Becksie's itchy-mosquito echo, Jitters, age nine. "You gonna fall out of that tree, Livy Two, and break your neck and that's the truth." That sister is really Myrtle-Anne, but we call her Jitters, since she's always breaking something. Myrtle-Anne don't mean to drop things or trip over her own two feet, but Mama says some kids are just born with more "jitters" and that she'll outgrow it soon enough. The name Jitters suits her to a T.

"Did you hear me?" Becksie demands again.

"Listen," I say, "I'll be in directly, you'uns, but right now, I'm praying to Livy One so you'uns hush up and leave me be."

That shuts them up quick. Can't argue with praying to a dead sister. Of course, I'm not really praying to Livy One, though I do like to talk to her sometimes. I'm just enjoying a tender August night in the year 1962. Mama says she can't hardly believe it's 1962 already. She and Daddy got married in 1947 and have had ten babies born in the last three decades - forties, fifties, and sixties. I wonder if they'll aim to try for the 1970's too. Neither Mama nor Daddy ever had any brothers and sisters growing up, so they decided from the get-go to have a mess of children themselves.

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