"You ain't said anything," Boot pointed out. "And I jes' as soon you didn't. You as mean as an old settin' hen today. Peyton gon' have to come up with something really fine to make up for you."
Two pairs of cool eyes turned toward her. Peyton, who had planned to recount the deliberate serving to her of the last helping of tepid turnip greens in the school lunch line while a steaming pot of spaghetti and meat sauce awaited those behind her, swiftly changed her mind.
"I killed my mother," she said, her heart beating hard with the sheer daring of it, and the first opening of the pit of that old pain. The others were silent, looking at her. She looked back, feeling for an instant only the heedless joy of a great coup.
"You ain't, neither," Boot said finally.
"You flatter yourself," Ernie said.
But they knew they were bested by a long shot.
"I did, too," Peyton said. "She died not a day after I was born. She bled to death. Everybody knows that. I've always known it."
"Then why didn't you say?" Boot asked. He was having a hard time relinquishing his sultancy of humiliation.
"You'd have only said I was showing off. Ernie, you did say it. And not only did I kill her, but when I was in first grade I changed my name to Peyton because the kids were singing a song about 'Prilla, Prilla, mother-killer,' and I made it stick, too..."
Nora, Nora. Copyright (c) 2000 by Anne River Siddons. Reprinted with permission from HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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