Her name was Grace, but they called her Peachie. Nobody knew exactly why. The boys
said it was because when she was a girl, she liked to shinny up the blighted old
tree in her back yard and eat the peaches straight off the branches—fuzz, rot, worms,
and all. “I bet she could eat a worm,” they said in admiration. None of this they
knew for sure. It was part of the legend surrounding Peachie which they were building
Cover by Lacey Stinson, noted North Louisiana artist known chiefly for his drawings and oil landscapes. He has studios in both Ruston and in Alexandria (www.DancingOkra.com).
I grew up immersed in the South’stradition of oral literature. My earliest memories
are memories of drowsing under the quilt frames while my mother and grandmother told
and retold family myths and legends.
Later, as an undergraduate and graduate student, I studied literature. I read the
best of the Southern writers. I also immersed myself in folktales and early epics—Beowulf,
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Egil’s Saga, and more.
Currently, I work as community advocate for DART (Domestic Abuse Resistance Team)
in Ruston, Louisiana. In that capacity, I use my skill at telling stories to capture
the attention of my audience. I want to teach them about the dynamics of domestic
violence and to motivate them to speak out against domestic violence in Louisiana.
I’m fortunate to have a long-running column in the Ruston Daily Leader giving voice
to the local family violence movement.
When I recently compiled thirty years of short stories in one binder, I was surprised
to see how my early fiction predicted my current work life. Themes which appear
again and again are the descent into mental illness or the multigenerational blight
of domestic violence and its effects on individual families.
Louisiana is the most dangerous state in the nation for women and children. At least
four but perhaps as many as six children in every classroom in this state go home
to domestic violence every day. My goal is to exploit my narrative skill in order
to enhance physical and emotional safety and perhaps even healing for children in
About the Author
Artwork by Lacey Stinson Scenes from Debra Faircloth’s Dry Prong, Louisiana homestead.