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The Bead Lady

Buy beads. Or you die.

The Bead Lady always came around when I played hopscotch on the sidewalk, outside my school. The Cathedral one with real nuns and everything. Usually, I played there when Mommy was having one of her high dramas. That’s what she called them. High Dramas. Always to do with boys and Mommy things.

It was easier to be far away during the High Mommy Dramas. I took a stick of colored chalk and drew on the blue stones outside my school. The Bead Lady always came. She tried to scare me into buying her necklaces.

She wore beads everywhere, the ones for Mardi Gras that ladies got for raising their tops and showing their boobies. Hehehe. She must’ve shown her boobies A LOT, because she was covered in beads. Around her neck. Knotted at her waist. Hanging from her hair. Wrapped around her arms. Sewn into her dress and glued to her shoes.

She talked funny, too, like she wasn’t from New Orleans. Aunt Bertie said to stay away from her because she was from that Hitler place, but since I don’t know what that means, I talked to her anyway. She always said the same thing to me: “Buy beads. Or you die.”

Until the day I did my hopscotch turn and told her we were all going to die anyway. Buying beads wouldn’t change anything.

She raised one eyebrow and got this funny look, right before she handed me a string of beads. Rainbow ones, with boy parts on them. She put them over my head and said “You live forever.” Her heavy voice hung in the air after she was gone.

Welcome to Mommy Dearest, a series of fiction. If this is your first visit to the series, please click here to read the first installment, go here for the second installment and click here for the third and go here for the fourth. Thanks for your feedback on fiction posts. Your thoughts will help me make a believable character.

27 Comments Post a comment
  1. I love this series. The girl’s voice seems just right…hinting at the things she doesn’t understand but that we, the grown ups, would. I also like the way that every post stands alone but also feels like it is part of something bigger. :)

    October 5, 2012
    • Getting it right is a work in progress, Heather. It is hard to stay in that voice and vary it enough to keep it interesting for the reader, but I’ll get there.

      October 5, 2012
  2. October 5, 2012
  3. This bead game is quite a bit different to any I have known. Ending up with a necklace of dicks for giving a smart answer is unusual:)

    October 5, 2012
    • The Bead Lady was a woman in New Orleans who walked around trying to get people to take lucky beads. She was quite a character, apparently.

      October 5, 2012
  4. Hopscotch and Skipping. Two things that will always remind me of childhood and silly, happy days. She found silly and happy even though her homelife wasn’t the very best. What is it about a child wherein the child can take a stressful situation put it in its place and enjoy her hopsctoch and a conversation with an elderly bead selling lady…the child is the wise one. :)

    October 5, 2012
    • I hope she will be wise enough to make her life everything it can be.

      October 5, 2012
  5. Woah. That was chilling. That lady just handed this kid doom. I think ‘live forever’ may mean ‘with God’ for our girl here.

    October 5, 2012
  6. Alice #

    “Would you like to buy a lucky bead”. that is what the bead lady said when I lived in new orleans – maybe she lived forever… she wore black clothing and a silver football helmet. Love the bead lady and the “boy part” necklace.

    October 5, 2012
    • I met an author here last night. She told me about the Bead Lady and the Duck Lady who roller skated in a wedding dress. Some real stories.

      October 5, 2012
      • I love the sound of the Duck Lady! Wedding dresses cost so much and are so pretty to be only worn once. Far better to enjoy them :) and I wonder what the connection to ducks might be?

        October 6, 2012
      • The Duck Lady supposedly had real ducks following behind her on the skates.

        October 6, 2012
  7. There are some scary elements here….

    October 5, 2012
  8. You have the voice so perfectly, Andra. I wonder if knowing Kayleigh well has helped? ANd this little soul is wise beyond her years, with what she told the bead lady.
    Loved this, naturally.

    October 5, 2012
    • I hope her voice has inspired some of this. We spent most of the afternoon playing words games on the way to get her pumpkin.

      October 5, 2012
  9. Good write, Andra. Succinct message, well expressed.

    October 6, 2012
  10. I love this world you’re playing in right now, sinister and luch and not even a bit of a caricature.

    October 6, 2012
  11. I love the fact that she has a voice and speaks her own mind–when it’s safe to do so. It always makes me sad to see a little child who is learning early how to size people up…it’s a great survival skill, but troubling. I do love the setting in New Orleans, Andra. Perfect choice!

    October 6, 2012
  12. This series gets more wonderful with each chapter :)

    October 8, 2012
  13. I love how weighty, almost ominous a character the bead lady is even through the narrator’s filter. Nice.

    October 8, 2012
  14. That is awesome. High Mommy Dramas – my mom always said she was “having a breakdown.” And I used to laugh at her. Hey, it was her fault for having seven kids – of course she was gonna have a breakdown, probably had several with our lot. :)

    October 8, 2012

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