"I've been talking to him and he agreed with me that, since I'm ten
years old, you should tell me ten things about my mama. Just ten
things, that's all."
The preacher stopped rubbing Winn-Dixie's head and held real still. I could see him thinking about pulling his head back into his shell.
"One thing for each year I've been alive," I told him. "Please."
Winn-Dixie looked up at the preacher and kind of gave him a nudge with his nose.
The preacher sighed. He said to Winn-Dixie, "I should have guessed you were going to be trouble." Then he looked at me. "Come on, Opal," he said. "Sit down. And I will tell you ten things about your mama."
"One," said the preacher. We were sitting on the couch and Winn-Dixie
was sitting between us. Winn-Dixie had already decided that he liked
the couch a lot. "One," said the preacher again. Winn-Dixie looked at
him kind of hard. "Your mama was funny. She could make just about
"Two," he said. "She had red hair and freckles."
"Just like me," I said.
"Just like you," the preacher nodded.
"Three. She liked to plant things. She had a talent for it. She could stick a tire in the ground and grow a car."
Winn-Dixie started chewing on his paw, and I tapped him on the head to make him stop.
"Four," said the preacher. "She could run fast. If you were racing her, you couldn't ever let her get a head start, because she would beat you for sure."
"I'm that way, too," I said. "Back home, in Watley, I raced Liam Fullerton, and beat him, and he said it wasn't fair, because boys and girls shouldn't race each other to begin with. I told him he was just a sore loser."
The preacher nodded. He was quiet for a minute.
"I'm ready for number five," I told him.
"Five," he said. "She couldn't cook. She burned everything, including water. She had a hard time opening a can of beans. She couldn't make head nor tail of a piece of meat. Six." The preacher rubbed his nose and looked up at the ceiling. Winn-Dixie looked up, too.
"Number six is that your mama loved a story. She would sit and listen to stories all day long. She loved to be told a story. She especially liked funny ones, stories that made her laugh." The preacher nodded his head like he was agreeing with himself.
"What's number seven?" I asked.
"Let's see," he said. "She knew all the constellations, every planet in the nighttime sky. Every last one of them. She could name them. And point them out. And she never got tired of looking up at them."
"Number eight," said the preacher, with his eyes closed, "was that she hated being a preacher's wife. She said she just couldn't stand having the ladies at church judge what she was wearing and what she was cooking and how she was singing. She said it made her feel like a bug under a microscope."
Winn-Dixie lay down on the couch. He put his nose in the preacher's lap and his tail in mine.
From Because of Winn-Dixie. Copyright (c) 2000 Kate DiCamillo. Candlewick Press, Inc., Cambridge, MA.
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No Man's Land
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