After Scout (In To Kill a Mockingbird)

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After Scout  ( in To Kill a Mockingbird)

So, I had an older brother who could qualify as Jem–with dark hair at least and a crinkle of dubiety about the eyes and we lived in what was kind of the South and not far from a road where all whom we called colored back then lived–they probably lived in lots of other places too–but this was the place we knew and it was poor, the houses broken, hung with crack-slat wood, dark-windowed, and when they de-segregated the schools, I was determined to be, you know, Scout-like, Atticus-like, and also like JFK==noble, right and true, meaning welcoming, meaning especially nice–cause I was pretty darn sure it would be hard to walk down from that road (it was called St. Barnabas) to our new beige brick school with its white and pink mosaics along the side, and so I did my best, and maybe because of that, or  maybe not, a group of black boys from my class followed me home one day, and they were boys – we were nine or ten back then–my neighborhood the opposite direction from St. Barnabas, with their arms cartwheeling legs, and laughing tattered strut, so wild, I think, because they were nervous–I sure was–not just because their mocking me was so raucous, neon-toothed, but because as our way deepened  down my street, I realized that I’d never seen a colored person there my whole life long, except for a worker maybe–and Kevin who was a beautiful coffee brown with eyes even more crinkly than my brother’s always seemed the leader, so I turned, though I’d been pretending they weren’t following me, and told him maybe they’d better get home.

But Earl, who was tall and skinny and the darkest person I’d ever seen, with a sweet big-curvy smile that beamed like a moon at night, even with his mouth closed, just twisted while Kevin thought, and  grabbed out of my book bag, the handle sticking out, my blue plastic hairbrush, and after one froze beam, as if he didn’t know what he dared, patted it upon the top of his short black nap, then stroke stroke stroked, then held it way up high as if I’d try to reach for it, though I don’t know that I did try, ‘cause we were in my next door neighbor’s yard by this time, the lawn they kept mowed short, right next to a groomed magnolia, and it wasn’t a yard people walked across, there was a narrow sidewalk to the door, a white-sloped curb upon the street, and a part of me–all that niceness–just felt punctured, sunken flat, because I wasn’t actually sure whether I could use that brush again, while another part arched crazily with fear — for them–and shock–for me–having never thought of my street in just this way, as either a place where they might come, or a place they might be hurt, glad too suddenly that my brother wasn’t there, that no one was, no one who might see/do something different than me, though there was sure nothing much I could think of–and then they turned back, Earl tossing my hairbrush down, and I just stood there.

The bristles stuck up from the mown lawn in rows of clear knobbed spikes, like some strange imitation grass, something dropped by, you know, a spaceship, on reconnaissance.

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This is a draft prose poem written for Kerry O’Connor’s prompt on With Real Toads, to come up with something relating to Harper Lee and To Kill A MockingbirdTo Kill a Mockingbird was one of my favorite books and movies even as a little kid;  my admiration for it has not lessened with age. 

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19 Comments on “After Scout (In To Kill a Mockingbird)”

  1. hedgewitch Says:

    Reality is so seldom as we picture it–the UFO’s in your drawing might be fried eggs, the hairbrush an alien life form, and our minds, such quick moving animal things, yours here going down every possible road and finding no safe place to stop…how terribly easy it is for otherness to frighten us. Honest and uncompromising piece, k.

  2. Lindy Lee Says:

    Being followed by a group of any kind of boys or girls for that matter would be a scary experience indeed. Whether or not to re-use the hairbrush would also be a problem…


  3. We are frightened of those who differ from us. Even in your fright in this piece you recognized the danger the boys might be in because they were somewhere that might reject them for their color. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  4. Kay Davies Says:

    I agree with Lindy, being followed by any kind of group would be scary, and having anyone snatch your hairbrush would be an affront.
    I remember, the year I was in Grade 6, there was one black boy at our school. Just one. None of us knew anyone else of African heritage. But we had plenty of Japanese-Canadian friends, because their families had been sent inland during WWII, and we had Chinese-Canadian families in town, too. We were already racially integrated, and one color more or less didn’t seem to make any difference. Everybody picked on me.
    You’ve done a wonderful job of getting Harper Lee’s voice into your story, and you’ve conveyed your feelings well.
    K

  5. brian miller Says:

    how unnerving to be confronted this way and scary as well as you measure their intentions…i wonder at the brush, if you retrieved it or just left it laying….

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      You know, it’s an old story, but I think I was mainly scared for them, unnerved. Such a time – people think of 50/s, 60;s with nostalgia, but of course, there was a lot of terrible stuff against minorities that people gloss over. k.

  6. kkkkaty Says:

    In this movie, my father was Atticus, I was Scout. In real life, he was a lawyer, taught me to not be prejudiced. But as an adult, I found out later he could be wrong when it came to his daughter’s friends. I no longer held him up high on a pedestal after that – I felt betrayed…just saying. Your story is truthful, honest and innocent..no betrayal, only learning. I like the way you describe the surroundings and the times.


  7. Karin, if I tell you I have goosebumps from reading this, I am not exaggerating. I feel like I have just witnessed something immensely bigger than a response to a prompt. Your prose is faultless and here is a story to be told. You are a writer and I am so glad you wrote this.

  8. JInksy Says:

    I’ve never lived in an area with such demarcation lines – can’t imagine how restrictive you felt…

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Yes. My Junior High voted for George Wallace for President in 1968. It seems a long time ago. Of course, much changing, though a great deal also has not changed. Thanks. k.

  9. janehewey Says:

    This is a beautiful composition, bringing vulnerability to light. I enjoyed your poetic crack-slat wood and neon toothed throughout the piece and was sitting on edge towards the end. Hairbrush, a simple tool, is also most personal. Great read,k.


  10. Eerily entertained… loosened poetic kaleidoscope and what a weave of fearful.

  11. Jamie Dedes Says:

    Kids being kids … and we were all taught to see each as other … and so it goes. Sad. And now there are new groups targeted as other.

    I know this is going to make an excellent poem and so look forward to seeing how you handle it. Good luck and thanks for the courage to share the experience with honesty.

    Be well …


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