The Secret Of The Kudzu - short story fiction
The Secret Of The Kudzu
Well, we buried the Crazy Kudzu Lady last week. That’s what the people in town called her, but I knew her as Grammie.
Grammie loved her kudzu and while others were trying to find ways to kill theirs, Grammie fed hers with love and devotion.
Grammie’s kudzu was located in her side yard behind the pink and yellow, two-seater swing and in front of her nosey neighbors. Grammie was fond of her privacy.
She once told me that kudzu grew at a rate of twelve inches per day, but I’m not totally sure she had her facts straight on that one. There’s even a poem about it and Grammie taught it to me at an early age:
Close your windows at night
for kudzu loves the light
It’ll come right on in
sit in your den
and double before your sight!
Another story Grammie loved to tell was when the Kudzu visited her at night and brought her things. One time she was sick in bed and woke one morning to find a bouquet of flowers on her windowsill. On another occasion she found her reading glasses at her doorstep after losing them the day before. She had no proof it was the kindly kudzu, but she always said she didn’t have proof that it wasn’t the kudzu either. She chose to believe, I chose to laugh at her.
Once, I even tested the kudzu. One summer I threw a wheat penny into the thickest of vines along with a silver bracelet that belonged to a friend. Never saw either one of those again and my friend decided I couldn’t be trusted after I told her the story. A very smart girl, she was.
HONK! I jumped and nearly fell off the swing when the movers showed up. Grammie had left the house to me, so I decided to move out of my tiny apartment across town and move into the one-story cottage. It was cute, paid for, and held a lot of memories.
The movers quickly carted my few belongings to the living room so I could unbox later. I gave them a tip and waved as they left in just under an hour. I had big plans for tonight and I had to get ready!
I met Robert two weeks before my Grammie died. He worked on her old Packard, mainly because he was the only guy in town that could do it, plus he allowed her to pay him at the beginning of the month when she got her Social Security check.
I was immediately drawn to him, not just because he looked like Johnny Depp, but he was kind and one doesn’t meet kind people often. We talked all day while he worked and later that night we had our first date. Two days later we had another date. Tonight is our third date and I am making him a good old-fashioned dinner complete with meatloaf, mashed potatoes, green beans, and sourdough rolls. I truly believe that the quickest way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. A friend of mine used to say the quickest way to a man’s heart was by using a rib spreader, but she was a bit touched.
I quickly set the table and left the food to warm in the kitchen while I showered and dressed for the evening. When I returned, the candles were lit so I knew Robert had let himself in. I called out for him, but there was no answer.
I was almost to the back door when I heard an engine roaring up my driveway. I raced to the front of the house just in time to see Robert exit his F150. He must be playing tricks on me, but I decided not to even mention it. That’ll teach him!
Dinner was delicious! Not just because I thought so, but Robert kept raving about it like I was Wolfgang Puck or something. It was nothing special, but I felt proud just the same.
We made our way to the garden and talked a bit on the swing. I secretly wished I could capture this moment and keep it in a bottle. The night was just so perfect. The cool air, the sounds of nature, the warmth of Robert, and the full moon. Moments like this are rare and I took a mental picture to revisit later.
Robert told me his whole life story, what there was to tell. He had been introduced to football at an early age. Had lived and breathed it in high school and college, but nothing became of it, so he returned to town and started working for his father as a mechanic. All he had to show for his years of football was a beautiful gold championship ring he wore with pride on his right ring finger.
After about an hour, I went to the kitchen to retrieve hot chocolate and some cinnamon cookies. Again, he raved on my cooking skills while I stood before him beaming. What a catch, I thought to myself. He wasn’t getting away without a fight!
As the hours passed, the dew set in and Robert went inside for a quilt. I was chilly while he was gone, but when he returned, I knew I only needed him beside me to warm me all over.
We kissed for a bit and my heart felt like it would beat out of my chest. It had been awhile since my last boyfriend and it was nice to be close to a man again. He engulfed me in his arms and I accepted his kisses greedily.
My idea of a beautiful moment was to be short-lived. I enjoyed the kissing, but was not ready for his other advances. I whispered to him that I was not ready for more, but he ignored my words as he pushed me down on the swing. I managed to push him off and onto the ground with a thud.
I quickly apologized, but just as the word ‘sorry’ escaped my mouth, his strong hand, the one with the huge championship ring, hit my lip and blocked my words. I fell back in the swing while he continued to do as he pleased. My lip was swollen and bleeding and I was a little bit dizzy, but I managed to get out from under him and run. He grabbed after me and caught the hem of my skirt, but I stepped out of it and ran. He was yelling something about me being stupid and not knowing what the third date was supposed to mean. He was still spouting obscenities as I closed and locked the door.
I felt so relieved when he didn’t try to get in. He turned over the swing, stomped on what was left of the cookies, destroying my Grammie’s china in the process, and made his way to the driveway. I ran to the bathroom and cried for hours.
I awoke this morning with swollen eyes and a bloody mouth. I don’t remember going to sleep, but I guess I just kind of passed out on the bathroom floor.
I inched the door open and looked around. Nothing out of place, everything pretty normal. I was sure Robert had left and probably wouldn’t come back, but I was still cautious just the same.
I walked towards the bedroom door. I had locked it and put a chair under the doorknob. I was so glad that he hadn’t even tried to get in. After not getting what he wanted last night, I sure hope he settles down today. I have no intention of ever seeing him again, but I hope he has sense enough to know he almost became a rapist last night.
My left foot steps on something cool as I walk towards the door. I look down and see a penny. Not just any penny, but a wheat penny. No big deal, I’m sure it was uncovered during my recent cleaning spree.
Confident in my thoughts, I almost missed the silver bracelet a few feet away. A thrill ran through me as I bent to pick it up. I tried to explain this one away, but there’s no way I could. The little silver tag with the cursive ‘L’ on one side and the inscription: “To Lissi, Love Mommy” on the other, was indeed my friend’s bracelet. The same one that was lost so many years before.
I needed coffee and I needed it fast. My hands were shaking and my head was hurting from all these puzzling thoughts. I started the coffee and went to the front door to get the paper.
I step out onto the cool cement and as I bend to get the paper, I let out a scream that I’m sure could be heard at Donna’s BeauT Shoppe around the corner. I cover my mouth but continue to whimper as I come to grips with what I’m seeing.
A hand. A man’s hand. It was severed just above the wrist. The gold championship ring sparkled in the early morning sun. A green vine wrapped around the bloody stump. The kudzu had come to my rescue.
I stand here now as tears roll down my cheeks. What started out as tears of terror, turned to sorrow, and now are tears from laughter. I take the paper and pick up the stump and take it inside. I wondered where the rest of the body was, but I knew the kudzu would never tell. I would keep the secret. The secret of the kudzu.
I wonder how much I can get for that ring?