Welcome to the Spot Writers. This week the prompt is based on the following opening sentence, which every member of the Spot Writers used to begin their piece: “Every day of the week I…, but Sundays are different. On Sundays, I…”
Every day of the week I listen to myself—but Sundays are different. On Sundays, I listen to Momma, despite her death many years previous.
Momma had been very religious and believed Sundays were a day of rest. Rest, in her mind, hadn’t meant “take it easy” or nap. She meant we should let things be. Let things rest; don’t disturb what’s there.
So, that one day out of seven, I obeyed my momma. And I let things be. I let things rest.
I still do.
Back then, I had never thought Momma really understood Sundays, though, as much as she had preached about it. Not everything needs or wants to rest that one day a week. Insects and bugs don’t know Sundays from Wednesdays. Heck, do they even know what a day or a week is? Sure, those little critters must sense night from day, but I’m sure they don’t clue in there are seven nights and seven days within one week.
And trees and their falling leaves? On Sundays, we had to let the leaves lay where they’d fallen, according to Momma’s rules. We couldn’t pick up a leaf to admire its silky softness or crush a dried one between our fingertips. Those leaves had to rest where they landed.
“Wait until Monday, Rebecca,” Momma used to admonish me. “You can pick every last one of them then, if you so desire.”
But I don’t want to on Monday, I had wanted to tell her. I want to now, while the leaf is fresh and lovely, while the dewy teardrop lingers on the veined skin. But I never did. Cause it had been Sunday, the day of rest. On that day, we weren’t supposed to raise our voices or argue either. And I respected my momma on God’s day. A day Momma had stolen for herself.
“You mustn’t disturb what God has given us,” she had continued. “God meant for that leaf to land in precisely that spot. There’s an order to things, and if you disturb one small thing in the universe, you’ll disturb something that follows. It’s the law of consequences. There’s always a consequence for every action.”
“But Momma, that leaf wasn’t meant to fall. Leaves fall in October, when the chills come, not now in July.”
“That’s precisely my point, Rebecca. That leaf fell for a reason. Perhaps it landed there to shade a tired insect. That insect will live because of that fallen leaf. If you remove that leaf, the insect might die. Perhaps it’s a pregnant insect, and then the leaf’s removal would kill more than the mother. Those insects are necessary for some other insect to live. It’s God’s will, Rebecca. We must let things rest on Sundays.”
I had never fully understood. I had been eight when we had that conversation, but it kind of made sense. After all, Momma had been older and wiser than me and surely she knew what she talked about.
“Bugs are annoying,” I remember having said once, after that conversation about the leaf perhaps saving the bug’s life had flashed through my mind. “That’s why they bug us. That’s why they’re called bugs.” I had laughed. It hadn’t been Sunday, so I was safe. I could inquire and laugh and argue. Momma still had us under her protective wing those other six days, but those days had been more lenient.
I had learned about actions and consequences from Momma. And I still continue those respectful actions today, never disturbing anything on Sundays—not the peace, the quiet, the sole leaf resting on the soil.
Momma’s long gone now—dead at thirty-four. Killed by Poppa’s rifle.
Momma had never liked guns, but hunting had been Poppa’s favourite pastime so she put up with it. Her only request had been that he not touch his guns on Sundays. “The Lord God would not take kindly to that,” Momma had said. And she had said it only once. Because Poppa listened—or he had, up to a certain point.
Consequences. My family suffers from them now. That one bullet changed all our lives. One tiny object that had soared through the air and pierced Momma’s heart. Had Momma not picked that precise moment to walk unexpectedly into the room or had Poppa been cleaning his gun any other day but Sunday, Momma would still be alive. She worked Mondays to Saturdays, and that’s when Poppa cleaned his guns—except for that one fateful Sunday.
Poppa had always respected Momma’s wishes enough not to handle his guns on Sunday. But that day, for some unknown reason, he had disregarded her wishes, and when Momma appeared unannounced, the gun had accidently fired.
Of course, looking back now, I realize guns don’t kill. Guns kill when in the hands of humans. Against the grain of everything I’d ever believed, I sometimes wonder whether the shooting had been intentional. But, no, Pops loved Momma. He’d never kill her.
And accidents happen all the time; that’s why they’re called accidents. But never on Sundays. Sundays are supposed to be our day of rest. We should be good and kind on that day. We shouldn’t allow accidents to happen—not on Sundays.
The Spot Writers- our members:
Catherine A. MacKenzie