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by Maurice Broaddus





"Are you sure, child?" Grandmomma asked with that knowing haughtiness that ordinarily annoyed Jackie. Grandmomma worked her garden, her "place of secrets", every spring, planting an assortment of tomatoes, carrots, and cabbages that she cooked for her family. Jackie hated the bitter smell that stung her nostrils.

"I love him," Jackie said, her hands tucked into the back pockets of her pants. She kicked at the ground.

"And sometimes, when we love too much, we have to let go." Grandmomma’s Jamaican accent ran thicker when she grew frustrated. She slouched in a furrow of soil. Pulling her red handkerchief from her bra, she daubed her forehead. The pale pupil of her blind eye had the eerie way of tracking Jackie’s fidgeting. Jackie knew what her Grandmomma thought of her: That she had no direction in life, flitting from man to man, spreading her legs too easily, using the word "love" like some people ordered take out.

Jackie also knew about Grandmomma’s obeah ways.

"So you’ll do it?"

Grandmomma sighed, plunging her trowel into the soil. "Sometimes, the spells not work. The will of God be stronger than the science and you must abide by His will."

"I want him to come back to me."

"Then here’s what you must do. First you have to keep something of his nearby, like his hat. Wear something of his, a sock maybe, and stare into a candle made of pink wax. Think about him. Think hard, gal, that’s the important part if the science is going to work. Then you call to him: ‘Cease your wandering. Come home to me. Stay away at your peril. Come let us marry be.’ When you done, bury his things by the back door."

"Bury them, huh?"

Grandmomma reared back on her reedy arms. "You must think me make for joke. Obeah be about faith. You a woman of faith, you have power; you no believe in anything, you go your own way. You do as I say, and maybe, Lord willing, he come back to you."

Grandmomma turned her blind eye to Jackie.


Jackie stood before her mirror wearing only her panties and bra, cradling her belly. Cellulite-dimpled legs, the swollen circles under her eyes, a body in full bloom; she marveled that he could have loved her.

Grandmomma had raised Jackie since her mother died, but she was little more than a violet in winter. He tried to tell her that he loved her, before he left.

Besides, she wasn’t just thinking about herself.

Every child needed its father.


True love was too rare a find to let it slip through her fingers without a fight. When she finished, she walked the creek bed behind their house to wait for him at her own garden, with its freshly tilled soil and buried secrets. She sat down next to the gentle pile, carefully smoothing out her dress to present herself. The loamy smell filled her nostrils and she smiled.

She pressed her hand against the dirt and waited for him to return.

© Maurice Broaddus, 2005
All Rights Reserved



BIO: Maurice Broaddus holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree from Purdue University in Biology (with an undeclared major in English) and works as an environmental toxicologist. He has been involved in ministry work for well over a decade and is in the process of becoming a pastor and planting a church. His horror fiction has been published in numerous magazines and web sites, including Weird Tales and Horrorfind. His television reviews can be read at the Hollywood Jesus web site ( Learn more at