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MC Blogfest: Interview with Ellen Jo Carter, age 4 ½ years, from In Preacher’s Creek
Interviewer: Susan Kane, author of In Preacher’s Creek
Questions: 1. What is your greatest fear? 2. What is your biggest accomplishment? 3. What is your biggest regret?
Kane: Hello, Ellen. I am glad you could join me today. You sure look very pretty in your lovely dress!
Ellen Jo: My momma made me wear this dress, it’s my Sunday dress. Momma fixed my hair and she scrubbed me hard to make sure I was clean. Momma is ‘ticular like that. And, she wouldn’t let Kent come with me! He’s my brother and he is six years old. I am 4 ½ years old, and we do everything together. I mean, everything, and we go everywhere together. (Ellen looks around uncertainly, and wiggles in her chair. She pats down the poufy skirt, and then scratches the scabs on her knee. Her patent leather shoes hang over the edge of the chair, and her feet swing back and forth.) Do you like my shoes? I like them a lot. They’re called ‘Mary Jane’ shoes, ‘cause someone named Mary Jane owned them ‘fore me, maybe.
Kane: Are you nervous about being here by yourself?
Ellen Jo: I don’t know what that means—nervous?. My dress is itchy, and Momma said I had to sit like a lady. Do I have to sit like a lady? (Kane shakes her head, with a smile.) Ohhh, thank you! You won’t tell Momma, will you, ‘cause she is picky like that. (Ellen pulls the dress up from behind her. Her relief is palpable.)
Kane: So, Ellen. I want to ask you some questions. (Ellen nods, while scratching her head where a fluffy bow is tied.) The first question is: What is your greatest fear?
Ellen Jo: (Her eyes grow wide.) Greatest fear? You mean, I can have only one? I got bunches of fears. (Kane indicates that Ellen can name more.) I guess I am afraid that Kent will ditch me,and leave me behind. When he does that, it usually means I get caught ‘cause I’m a slow runner. Or it means Kent has gone off with Bobby or somebody else. Then I'd get left behind, without him.
We been together since I was born, about a hundred years.
|The author with her family|
Kane: Very good, Ellen! (Ellen Jo beams at the praise.) Now, the next question is: What is your biggest accomplishment? (Ellen appears puzzled. Kane explains definition.) ‘Accomplishment’ means something that you learned to do that was hard for you, but you did it anyway. Can you think of something?
Ellen Jo: Oh, yeah, I know of somethin’! You see, I was really scared that the devil was gonna take me because I was doin’ all this sinning when Kent and me did stuff we got in trouble for doin’. You know, like stealing the bases on the playground and hiding them in Bobby’s shed? Or when we painted Ol’ Man Henderson’s shed with left-over paint?
Anyway, I couldn’t sleep or eat, ‘cause I was afraid the devil’d come and steal my soul. Finally, Momma asked Pastor Beechum to come to my house and he prayed with me. I gived my heart and soul to Jesus, and I’m not afraid anymore. (Then she lowered her voice to a whisper.) Kent is still a big-time sinner; he lies all the time, and he knows he’s goin’ straight to hell, if he don’t stop sinning. (Ellen Jo leaned back, folded her hands on her lap, and gave Kane a sweet satisfied smile.)
Kane: Well, then. Just one more question: What is your biggest regret? ‘Regret’ means how you feel when you have done or said something that you wish you hadn’t done.
Ellen Jo: (Her face changed from sweetness to great sadness, and her hazel eyes glistened with tears.) Oh. I know what you mean. I called Bobby a “dummy head” and told him that I was smarter than him. I told him that he was stupid. His face looked all twisted up when I said that, and then he wouldn’t look at me for the longest time, and he wouldn’t play with me. I wish I hadn’t said that, and he won’t let me say I’m sorry. I can’t make it right, ever.
Kane: (She looked at her watch.) Well, that’s all I wanted to ask you for now. I just want to say that I love working with you and Kent. You two sure have interesting adventures. You can go now.
Ellen Jo Carter hopped down off the chair and skipped through the open door. “Momma! Momma! I did real good! I didn’t pick my nose or anything! Can we go get ice cream? Me and Kent? Can we get ice cream?” The noises receded, with a boy’s voice joining in with Ellen’s words. Kane peered out the door, and saw Kent take Ellen’s hand as they left the building.
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