by Belinda Furby
January in Louisiana brings a dampness that never leaves the air, no matter how long it’s been since the last rain - it seems the earth takes an opportunity to give up all its harvested moisture before the spring rains begin to fill it up again. The air is heavy with water like a mother about to give birth and the wetness gives the cold a means to seep deep into your skin, absorbing into your very being, crystallizing your blood. This is Bess’s ninth Louisiana January and she wears a pale blue coat with white fur trimmings; Mama has tied the hood tightly around her small, heart-shaped face. The bus will be here soon but not so soon that there isn’t time for a leisurely walk from the house to the end of the driveway; enough time to stop and look at what the winter night has left to be discovered – branches covered with tubes of ice, grass turned to crystal, and long pointed icicles hanging from the mailbox. Mama has sent her out of the house early so she can “finish getting dressed in peace," a peace that seems to elude her when Bess is around even though she seldom says more than a few words to Mama in the mornings. The earlier bus has come and gone carrying her older sister away to the nether regions of high school leaving Bess alone.
Belinda Furby, who lived in Louisiana for 25 years, now resides in dryer North Carolina. She is the author of 2am Prayer.