Delta Dreaming on a Winter’s Day

Snow in the Mississippi Delta - February 2011

Snow in the Mississippi Delta – February 2011. Photo by DB


NOTE: Thanks to Brooks Ann Gaston and Delilah Hollis, both who responded to Poor William’s posted-on-Facebook request for subject matter for this week’s Delta Shorts flash fiction story. What follows is the opening line suggested by Brooks Ann and the title is from Delilah.

Why does everyone in the south want snow, but then complains about it when it arrives?” she thought. “I don’t particularly like cold weather, but snow sounds exciting. I’ve seen ice before, but it scared me when I could hear tree limbs breaking late at night.”

Lamesha had read stories in school about snow and blizzards and she had a cousin in Detroit who didn’t like it at all. She guessed her cousin would probably like tornados since she had only heard about them from her.

One of the main reasons she wanted to experience snow was due to her 5th grade teacher, Miss Garrett, a Teach for America teacher from Boston, who encouraged her to be a pen pal with someone from another country. Some parents and folks on the school board didn’t seem to like the Teach for America program, but the kids loved it, and Lamesha felt like Miss Garrett was opening up a whole new world for her!

Lamesha moved to Clarksdale from Florida three years ago to live with her Auntie. Her mom wasn’t able to take care of her at the time. She loved her new home, even though it was in a small community out in the country. She also liked all the teachers at Pecan Grove Elementary School. The white teachers were as cool as the black teachers and none of them took any mess off the students who were there to clown and not learn.

Christmas was over and school had been back in session for two weeks when Miss Garrett said there was a winter storm heading their way. She even thought it might snow tonight. Lamesha was thrilled. During her Accelerated Reading time she asked Miss Garrett if she could write her pen pal a letter telling her about the chance of snow!

Ashanti was her age and she had never experienced snow either, but she said she had seen what looked like snow in the distance on the top of Mount Kilimanjaro in neighboring Tanzania. Those names seemed so exotic to her; Lamesha wondered if she might ever get to go there.

“Dear Ashanti, we are supposed to get snow tomorrow. I can’t wait. I wish you could be here with me to touch it and feel it. It is already starting to get cold. If I could figure out a way to mail you some without it melting I would. I remember you writing me that you had never even had ice in a drink before. I don’t really even know you, but I miss you just the same. I hope we can meet some day. I am including a picture of my class and me taken right before Christmas. Do you celebrate Christmas?

I have never understood why folks around here always talk about how cool snow is and then when we get it they fuss about it. Well, maybe tomorrow I will know why they feel that way. I will wait and mail my letter after I see if it snows. Bye for now.” Love, Lamesha.

“Hi Ashanti! It SNOWED more than six inches. It is the prettiest site I have ever seen in the world. I looked out my bedroom window in the middle of the night and the ground was already white and little tiny flakes were falling as gently as if they were slow dancing. I was so excited. I snuck out of my house and went into the front yard. I am not supposed to do that as my Auntie said it isn’t safe to go out by myself at night, but I couldn’t help myself.

It was so quiet that it was almost scary. It is never this quiet in my neighborhood. I tasted the snow and it was so fresh. I wish you and I could throw snowballs at each other. I will probably do that in a little while since we are out of school today. Well, I will take some pictures today with the little camera I got for Christmas and send them to you. Bye for now and I hope to see you soon! I hope you like the pictures!” Love, Lamesha

Right after Valentine’s Day, Lamesha got a letter from Kenya. She was so excited she ran into her bedroom and hid in the closet to read it. She didn’t want to share this with anyone, yet. This was treasure. She hoped that Ashanti liked her last letter and was as excited about the snow as she was. But, the handwriting didn’t look like Ashanti’s.

“Dear Lamesha, I am Amari, Ashanti’s mother. Thank you for being such a good friend to her. She loved and treasured your letters, particularly the last one. She wanted to experience snow with you more than almost anything in the world. Thank you for sharing that experience with her. I will keep your pictures in a very special place as a remembrance.

I am sad to have to tell you that she didn’t have time to write you back before she died. She had AIDS, like 200,000 other children in our country. I can still see my precious daughter’s face smiling from ear to ear when I read your letter to her. She went to heaven shortly after hearing it and the last thing she asked me to do was to write you and thank you for your friendship. I am enclosing a little doll she made while she was sick. She wanted you to have it!” Love, Amari

All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. Click here to read more about DELTA SHORTS.

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  1. Delilah Hollis says:

    How beautiful and heart warming your story was Billy – thank you for sharing, and for bringing attention to one of the greatest plagues of our lifetime. God places people in our life for a reason, and I am so glad Lamesha was able to bring joy to her precious friend, even though they never met. God bless Ashanti’s family and all of the other people who suffer from this dreadful disease, and may God your beautiful heart. Delilah

  2. Delilah Hollis says:

    “and may God bless your beautiful heart.” Sorry, left out a word, Delilah

  3. Man! What a blessed day this is shaping up to be at “The Ranch”. Heard three Gobblers behind the house at Daybreak. (They have no clue their days are limited. Maybe! Hope So!). Just got in from services at “The Historic” Oakland United Methodist Church. Heard me some Good Word and took Holy Communion. Even heard some good word this morning from “PW Himself”.Don’t get any better than that. The Daytona 500 just started, Kyle Bush just spun out. Ha! Ha!. Now, if Earnhardt Jr. could win the race all will be right with my world. “Gravy on the Catheads”. “Homegrown Mater Gravy” at that. Thank You Lord Jesus!!

  4. Oh, wow. You’re a true writer. Like, really. I love the way you write!

    Would love to see you write something like that, but in Swedish. We don’t have a lot of great writers over here.


  5. Delilah Hollis says:

    I cried more than a few tears over this. I love your’s and Madge’s beautiful heart. They are bright lights that shine over this small world of ours. The world needs more of you both. Much, much love, and please keep writing.

    • Delilah, I read this aloud to Billy today as we drove back to the Delta from the coast. Likely neither of us had read it since we published it.

      I had to pause reading it due to the tears and emotion which welled up in me. Billy was driving and he too was emotional in hearing it again.

      Your words of encouragement bless us. Thank you.

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