Novels: The color purple: Alice Walker: Chapter 2

It took him the whole spring, from March to June, to make up his mind to take me. All I thought about was Nettie. How she could come to me if I marry him and he is so love-struck with her I could figure out a way for us to run away. We both be hitting Nettie’s schoolbooks pretty hard, cause we know we got to be smart to get away. I know I’m not as pretty or as be hitting Nettie’s schoolbooks pretty hard, cause we know we got to be smart to getaway. I know I’m not as pretty or as smart as Nettie, but she says I isn't dumb

 

The way you know who discover America, Nettie say, is think about cucumbers. That what Columbus sounds like. I learned all about Columbus in first grade but looks like he the first thing I forgot. She says Columbus comes here in boats call the Neater, the Peter, and the Santomareater. Indians so nice to him he force a bunch of ’me back home with him to wait on the queen

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But it hard to think with getting married to Mr. _____ hanging over my head

The first time I got big Pa took me out of school. He never cares that I love it. Nettie stood there at the gate holding tight to my hand. I was all dress for the first day. You too dumb to keep going to school, Pa says. Nettie is the clever one in this bunch

But Pa, Nettie say, crying, Celia smart too. Even Miss Beasley says so. Nettie dote on Miss Beasley. Think nobody like her in the world

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Pa says, Whoever listens to anything Addie Beasley has to say. She run off at the mouth so much no man would have her

That how come she has to teach school. He never looks up from cleaning his gun. Pretty soon a bunch of white men comes walking across the yard. They have guns too

 

 

Pa get up and follow ’me. The rest of the week I vomit and dress wild game

But Nettie never gives up. Next thing I know Miss Beasley is at our house trying to talk to Pa. She says long has she been a teacher she never knows anybody wants to learn bad as Nettie and me. But when Pa call me out and she sees how tight my dress is, she stops talking and go

Nettie still doesn’t understand. I don’t either. All we notice is I’m all the time sick and fat

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I feel bad sometimes Nettie does pass me in learning. But look like nothing she says can get in my brain and stay. She tries to tell me something about the ground not being flat. I just say, Yeah, as I know it. I never tell her how flat it looks to me

Mr. Come finally one day looking all drugs out

The woman he had helping him done quit. His mammy done said No More

He says, Let me see her again.

Pa call me. Celia, he says. Like it was nothing. Mr. _____ want another look at you

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I go stand at the door. The sunshine in my eyes. He’s still upon his horse. He looks me up and down

Pa rattles his newspaper. Move up, he won’t bite, he says

I go closer to the steps, but not too close cause I’m a little scared of his horse

Turn round, Pa says

 

I turn round. One of my little brothers come up. I think it was Luscious. He fat and playful, all the time munching on something

He says, What are you doing that for?

Pa says, Your sister is thinking about marriage

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Didn’t mean anything to him. He pulls my dress tail and ask can he have some blackberry jam out of the safe

I say, Yeah

She good with children, Pa says, rattling his paper open more. Never heard her say a hard word to nary one of them. Just give ’me everything they ask for, is the only problem

Mr. _____ say, That cow still coming?

He says, Her cow

I spend my wedding day running from the oldest boy. He twelve. His mama died in his arms and he doesn’t want to hear anything bout a new one. He picks up a rock and laid my head open. The blood runs all down tween my breasts. 

His daddy says Don’t do that! But that’s all he says. He got four children, instead of three, two boys and two girls. The girl's hair ain’t been comb since their mammy died. I tell him I’ll just have to shave it off. Start fresh.

 

He says bad luck to cut a woman's hair. So after I bandage my head best I can and cook dinner—they have a spring, not a well, and a wood stove looks like a truck—I start trying to untangle hair. They are only six and eight and they cry. They scream. They accuse me of murder.

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By ten o’clock I’m done. They cry themselves to sleep. But I don’t cry. I lay there thinking about Nettie while he was on top of me wonder if she was safe. And then I think bout Shag Avery. I know what he doing to me he has done to Shag Avery and maybe she like it. I put my arm around him

I was in town sitting on the wagon while Mr. _____ was in the dry good store. I have seen my baby girl. I knew it was her

She looks just like me and my daddy. Like more us than us is yourself. She is tagging long hind a lady and they are dress just alike. They pass the wagon and I speak. The lady speaks pleasantly. My little girl looks up and sort of frowns. She fretting over something. She got my eyes just like they are today. Like everything I have seen, she has seen, and she pondered it

I think she mines. My heart says she mine. But I don’t know she mine. If she mine, her name is Olivia. I embroider Olivia in the seat of all her daddies. I embody a lot of little stars and flowers too. He took the daddies when he took her. She was about two months old. Now she is about six

 

I clam down from the wagon and I follow Olivia and her new mammy into a store. I watch her run her hand long side the counter like she isn't interested in nothing. Her ma is buying cloth. She says Don’t touch anything. Olivia yawn That real pretty, I say, and help her mama drape a piece of cloth close to her face

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She smiles. Gonna make me my girl some new dresses, she says. Her daddy be so proud

Who her daddy, I blurt out. It like at last somebody know

She says Mr. _____. But that isn't my daddy name

Mr. _____? I say. Who he?

She looks like I ask something none of my badness

The Reverend Mr. _____, she said, then turns her face to the clerk. He says, Girl, you want that cloth or not? We got other customers sides you

She says, Yes sir. I want five yards, please sir

He snatches the cloth and thumps down the bolt. He doesn’t measure. When he thinks he got five-yard he takes it off. That be a dollar and thirty cents, he says. Do you need a thread?

She says, Now suh

He says You can’t sew without thread. He picks up a spool and holds it against the cloth. That look like it bout the right color

Don’t you think

She say, Yessuh

I trail along behind them on the street

I don’t have anything to offer and I feel poor

She looks up and down the street. He isn't here. He isn't here. She say like she gon cry

Who isn't? I ask

The Reverend Mr. ___, she says. He took the wagon

My husband wagon right here, I say

She clams up. I thank you kindly, she says. We sit looking at all the folks that have come to town. I had never seen so many even at church. Some be a dress too. Some don’t hit on much. Dust git all up the ladies dress

 

She ask me Who is my husband was, now I know all about hers. She laughs a little. I say Mr. _____. She says, Sure Neff? Like she knows all about him. Just didn’t know he was married. He a fine-looking man, she says. Not a finer-looking one in the county. White or black, she says

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He does look all right, I say. But I don’t think about it while I say it. Most times men look pretty much alike to me

How long have you had your little girl? I ask

Oh, she is seven her next birthday

When that? I ask

She thinks back. Then she says, December

I think, November

I say, real easy, What do you call her?

She says, oh, we call her Pauline

My heart knock

Then she frowns. But I call her Olivia

Why do you call her Olivia if it isn't her name? I ask

Well, just look at her, she says sort of impish, turning to look at the child, doesn’t she look like Olivia to you? Look at her eyes, for god’s sake. Somebody ole would have eyes like that. So I call her ole Livia. She chuckles. Now. Olivia, she says patting the child's hair. Well, here comes the Reverend Mr. _____, she says. I see a wagon and a great big man in black holding a whip. We sure do thank you for your hospitality. She laughs again, looks at the horses flicking flies off their rump

Hospitality, she says. And I get it and laugh. It feels like to split my face

Mr. _____, come out of the store. Clam up in the wagon

Set down. Say real slow. What are you setting here laughing like a fool for?

The End

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