“Falling In Love Like Little Girls Fall In Love”
After a photograph by Carolyn DeMeritt entitled Tish and Caitlin (1986)
Before some old redneck boys nearly drowned Tish in the pollywog creek, Tish fell in love. Fell in love like little girls fall in love with other little girls.
Tish followed Caitlin around the neighborhood, sticking close on her heels. Tish called Caitlin on the phone after dinner every night. Giggling and whispering, delicious secrets out of earshot of the adults.
Tish admired Caitlin’s bossy streak. Feeling a strong kinship with Caitlin because they both had a face full of freckles. They both were born in the same city in the same year. They both felt closer to their daddies than their mothers.
Tish fell in love with Caitlin’s round belly, her almond eyes, her long brown hair, and mostly, her disregard for anything her mother ever told Caitlin to do.
Fell in love because Caitlin liked swimming as much as she herself did. She wasn’t as strong a swimmer as Tish, but she floated on her back, her long hair trailing behind her like webbing. Tish wished she were more like Caitlin, who never backed down to anyone–not even the boys or the older girls in the neighborhood.
Caitlin wasn’t afraid of the gigantic Rottweiler that lived four houses down the street in a big white house. The house with the broken fence that the Rottie was always pressing its giant body against. Its massive head lunging through the splitting wooden slats, its wide jaws gaping. The dog growling and lunging at the slightest provocation. Beastly. It was worse than that movie Tish and her Daddy watched a few years back: Cujo. Much worse than Cujo. Tish was convinced that it was only a matter of time until the dog escaped and sunk its teeth into her naked flesh.
Caitlin taunted that old dog every chance she got, and Tish never once admitted she was terrified of the dog and was sure it would be she was going to die. Ravaged and mutilated. Caitlin just laughed and said, “If that ugly dog gets out I’ll lay him out with a baseball bat; he ain’t that big.” But it was, the dog was that big, and it wasn’t like they carried around baseball bats anyway.
Early summer with Caitlin was magic. Magic. Fierce magic. Protective magic, keeping her safe.
About the writer:
Margo Williams holds an MFA from Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts. Work by Williams appears in Glimmer Train, Southeast Review, Prick of the Spindle, Beacon Street Review, Frostwriting, and Moonshine Review. Her fiction is anthologized in The Big Picture and she is a produced playwright (Snake Oil: 2008). Williams teaches creative writing at Cape Fear Community College and Cameron Art Museum. She is a Hambidge Fellow and her poems have been made into performance pieces and film presented at Ars Poetica in Wilmington, North Carolina, and Blue Sage Center in Paonia, Colorado.
Image: “Tish and Caitlin, 1986” by Carolyn DeMeritt. DeMeritt is native of Charlotte, North Carolina. Self-taught, she has been a professional photographer and videographer for over 30 years. DeMeritt has work included in many museums and in corporate and private collections, including the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington DC; the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh,North Carolina; the Mint Museum of Art in Charlotte,North Carolina; and the Bank of America collection. DeMeritt’s videography has been nominated for an Emmy Award.
The artist, Carolyn DeMeritt, in her own words:
“I believe, as most artists do, that I’m driven to create, often without a clear understanding of why, or what the work is “about” until after the fact. The surprises keep me going. I feel that, through my work, I’m seeking answers to unasked questions and my artwork is an attempt to engage others in the conversation. But ultimately, the work is the statement and must stand or fall on its own.”