Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A Bowl of Grits

Author's Note:  This story was written for the True Grit challenge at The Writers Ranch, word: Grit.  It falls in the middle of my book, Fighting For Love.

Virginia, 1864

“You’s lucky taday, Lieutentant,” Isaac, the older black slave who acted as the unit’s cook smiled at Lou and Kid as they shuffled through the chow line.  He proudly held up a dipperfull of their breakfast as his broad smile gleamed like a slash of white in the early morning dark.  "We’s got *grits* fer breakfast!”

With the excited pronouncement he slopped a heaping serving into Kid’s outthrust bowl, a slightly smaller one into Lou’s.

“There’s even butter ta go with ‘em!”

“Bully!” Kid exclaimed, already lifting the first spoonful to his mouth in almost worshipful adoration.  Lou trudged along after him, hardly daring to look down at the white goop that now inhabited her bowl.

Slumping down into her seat by the morning fire, she stared into her dish, unenthused by the meal of ground up corn, boiled with salt and butter.

Since following Kid to Virginia at the beginning of the Civil War, she’d eaten a lot of foods she’d rather not have, flavorless biscuits and gravy, greasy chitlins, slimy collard greens… but the worst of the lot was *grits*.

In her opinion the name said it all.  *Grits*.  The texture of the ground corn swirling around in her mouth was almost identical to the feel of all the trail dust she’d eaten during their Express years.  But at least then it hadn’t been voluntary and no one had even pretended she should enjoy the experience.

“Might as well call it dirt fer breakfast,” she muttered to herself as she tentatively dipped the tip of her spoon into the bowl, swirling it around in the grayish white mush.  She’d skip the meal completely, but it was better than boiled hardtack, which was what they’d had for breakfast yesterday.  And far and away better than nothing, which is what they’d have tomorrow unless the foragers got lucky again.

Finally, with an internal groan and a nearly visible shudder, she slowly… oh so slowly… lifted a spoonful of the porridge to her mouth… and poured it down her throat as quickly as she could, doing her best not to taste the cereal or even feel it.

“Ugh, *grits*,” she sighed.

“Yum!  *Grits*,” Kid enthused, standing up.  “I’m gonna go see if there’s enough fer seconds!”

Author's Note:  As always a big thanks to the ladies at The Writers Ranch for their wonderful graphic.  I could never have done it!  =)

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