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The Princess of Hardy County, West Virginia
“Rise! Rise! I am the Princess of Hardy County, West Virginia!” I danced in sunshine between cow patties, velvety mullein, and prickly purple thistles. The rush through the pine grove whispered rain.
In the depths of night the calls of screech-owl and whippoorwills echoed followed in day by bobwhites and thrashers. I upturned stones in the creek uncovering salamanders and crayfish and sometimes a water snake would undulate away, unimpressed.
In silky afternoons with the whir of insects, sweat bees tiptoeing over freckled arms, I devoured books, losing myself in golden afternoons and words.
I was the happiest girl in the whole USA, singing the anthem until it reverberated between the mountains.
And then it was over.
The house used only for sleeping, mealtimes, and on rainy days looks as if someone vacuumed away its lifeblood, sucking everything inward, an implosion of guilt.
I don’t enter the house. I have nothing there after twenty years. Instead, my feet carry me along a familiar path through the meadow where mullein and thistles spear upwards. No song of bobwhite. No thrasher thrall.
There’s no time to connect.
Home beckons hours away in urban sprawl, cacophony, and car fumes.