I never minded running errands during daylight hours; but when dusk opened its fist and stretched its long gray fingers across Galley Street, my heart stuck in my throat. I had to call up the bravest part of myself in order to make the trip.
I didn't want Granny to know I was too scared to be helpful; so I said sure I could do it.
"I'll do whatever you need, Granny!"
She handed over whatever knick knack I was supposed to deliver.
"Could you watch me from the door?" I asked.
"Of course I can!" she said.
I had my suspicions that Granny went on about her business inside once I'd waded out of the yellow porch light that puddled up just past the concrete driveway. I had a long way to go alone, darkness gathering as fast as dust in the corners.
Once I hit the road, I trained my eyes on the tracks that Papaw's backhoe had made years ago when they first laid the blacktop. In the dim light of early evening, I imagined the parallel imprints were slats on a bridge...a swinging bridge. Clutching my prize in hand tight enough to still my nerves but not tight enough to ruin it, I made my way, one foot in front of the other.
I was in the bayou now...no longer a mountain girl. If I squinted my eyes just so, I could almost make out the olive hump of an alligator's head, swimming in the swamp I imagined I was crossing.
Right in front of Uncle Ronnie's porch, I leapt off the bridge, right before it snapped, the ropes crushed in the jaws of the angry gator. I landed, both feet flat on the cool summer grass and ran headlong down the hill to my uncle's door. I was breathless when Aunt Betty answered.
* * *I took the back way to Granny's, jumping the drainage ditch like a hurdler and practically flew up the steps that led to Granny's driveway.
There she stood, just inside the screen door, silhouetted by light from the front hall.
I caught a deep breath. Maybe she had waited, while I acted out yet another death-defying adventure. Regardless, she was there now, watching from the door...just like she promised.