Dixie Lee ~ Part 1

The story of Dixie began on accident. Working on honing my writing skills, I asked Facebook friends to give me a one word prompt. I got a bunch and enjoyed the exercise immensely! My dad’s word was carburetor and somehow from that one word Dixie was born!

The short piece I wrote was well received and some friends encouraged me to finish the story. I decided to take a risk and that’s what I’m doing. Every Friday I’ll add to Dixie’s story until it’s finished. I have an idea where the story is going, and I think you may be surprised by some of the twists. To keep up with Dixie you can follow my blog and get updates sent right to your email.

I hope you won’t just read along, I hope you’ll participate. I’d love to hear your thoughts, suggestions, and ideas! And if you like the story the best way to pay me a compliment is to share it with a friend!

Dixie Lee

Dixie Lee

Dixie Lee’s eyes crackled, revealing a personality as combustible as her Ford pickup’s carburetor. Or at least as combustible as it had been. At the moment she was standing on the side of the dusty Mississippi road, head shoved under the hood of her royal blue 1976 pride and joy. The only combustion happening was inside her.

Dixie’s red curly hair, frizzing in the muggy air, flashed a warning sign to anyone who would take heed. Muttering under her breath she whirled, curls tossing, to retrieve her tools from the pickup’s bed.

Sadie stuck her head out the passenger side window, “How long will it take to fix, Dixie? We gonna be late to the Sheridan’s BBQ?”

Dixie flashed a grin at her friend, “Don’t worry. If I’ve got everything I need I should be able to have us on the road again in no time. I sure am glad daddy taught me how to fix this old truck.”

With that she turned her attention to the problem and got to work.

Hoisting the handed down, rusty toolbox onto the front of her open truck she hopped up on the fender. Dixie kept her balance with one hand as she rummaged around for her wrench. It was too late to worry about spoiling her favorite white peasant shirt. Determinedly she coaxed off the center screw to the air filter. She gave it a few good smacks against the tire to knock the grime loose. After putting the air filter back in place she checked to see if the fuel filter was clogged. Satisfied, she wiped her dirty hands on an old towel she’d found in the tool box.

Lately she’d had to baby the engine more than she would have liked. While Dixie prided herself in being an independent, well rounded young woman she preferred spending time on other things than working on a truck older than herself.

She hefted the old toolbox into the truck bed and threw the towel over it. Hopping into the front seat next to Sadie she gave her friend a hopeful look.

“Alright, let’s see if that did the trick.” She turned the key, the engine ground and died. She tried once more, this time the engine turned over. “Yay!” both girls flung their hands in the air as Brad Paisley blared from the radio mid-song.

Dixie jumped out the driver’s door, boots kicking up clouds of red dust, and rushed to grab her tool box. She slammed the hood of the truck shut. It had taken less than an hour to get the engine going again. Luckily there was still a bit of sunlight left at the edge of the late August evening.

She dumped the tool box in the bed of the truck with a metallic clank and climbed back into the driver’s seat. “Let’s go.”

They swung into the dirt road as the dusk wandered into the overhanging oaks on either side. Catching a glimpse of herself in the rear view mirror Dixie grimaced. “I’m a sight.” She tried, unsuccessfully, to tame the red frizz of her hair and wipe a grease smudge from her freckled, button nose.

Sadie pulled a napkin from the glove compartment and wet it from the water bottle rolling around the floor board.

“Hold still Dixie.”

True to her kind nature Sadie tried to rub the dirt from her friend’s face as they bounced down the road. The result was a few pokes in the eye and peals of laughter from the friends.

Dixie turned onto Old MS-16 and headed to the Sheridan’s country sprawl where the gentle slope of the inland meets flat Delta land. Tucked at the end of a long drive the Sheridan home stands a gracious guard under the arms of spreading oaks. To the right and back a bit was the barn. Happy light winked at them from gabled windows set in warm cedar shingles. A big porch spread itself across the entire length of the large home, it beckoned with a welcoming feel that seemed to say, “sit awhile and relax.”

Dixie whipped into a patch of grass beside another pickup truck and screeched to a halt. Sliding from the passenger side Sadie followed Dixie into the warm evening air that was just beginning to dance with lightning bugs and cricket’s cadence. She had to quicken her pace to keep up with Dixie who had grabbed up her guitar case and was swinging toward the house.

The sound of laughter floated to them on the breeze and called them to join in the fun. Rounding the corner of the house the girls caught site of a generous bonfire in full blaze several yards from the house. An assortment of lawn chairs encircled the crackling flames, pulled back to avoid the intense heat. About a dozen young people had gathered. Most of whom the girls knew. A few of the unknown young men were Bo Sheridan’s college friends.

Catching sight of the girls a collective hello rang out from the group. Bo sauntered over to greet them, his wide, white smile flashing. An unruly swath of dark hair over gray eyes, boots, jeans and soft pink polo spoke of country meets frat boy.

“Dixie Lily Lee, what kept you?”

Dixie flushed with frustration. Why he relished using her full name she didn’t know. What had her parents been thinking when they named her after the tacky Elton John song about a river boat?

Assuming her most indifferent posture she shot back, “clogged carburetor, but I took care of it.” A toss of her curls communicated more than words ever could.

“I can see that,” he twinkled, taking in her smudged nose, rumpled hair, and dirty fingernails.

As much of a handful as Dixie could be Bo approved of her. Friends since elementary school, the sparks had flown more times than could be counted between the two. Even so the fun loving, easy going young man enjoyed their sparing.

He had graduated from Ole Miss last year and was back home for a while. Maybe he enjoyed Dixie’s company because he had his own wild streak. Loyal and kind, he was easy on relationships, finding his thrills in driving fast and taking risks. The barn at the side of the house was home to Bo and his brother’s dirt bikes, a motorcycle, four wheelers, and the beginning of his own Legend race car. He’d been dirt track racing since high school. Fast was his passion.

Angela caught sight of her friend and sauntered over to join the conversation. “Girls, I was worried ya’ weren’t comin’”

“Hey Ang, Dixie’s ol’ truck broke down again,” Sadie shot a playful grin at Dixie and greeted her friend with a hug.

“That ol’ thing, Dixie why you insist on driving that piece a junk?” Angela good-naturedly teased. Her black eyes crinkled and bright teeth sparkled in her cafe au lait skin. “Come on, pull up a seat. We’ve got marshmallows and the boys are settin’ off fire works in a minute.”

Bo’s dad and brother, Fletcher, were gathered around a big grill at the back of the house. Nearby a couple of sawhorses with planks laid across them stood laden with food and drinks.

Dixie and Sadie made their way to the circle greeting various friends. Bo settled comfortably on one side of Dixie, Sadie on the other. A few minutes later the chatter was interrupted by the whine and pop of fireworks. Girls squealed and the few remaining guys, including Bo, dashed into the darkness toward the explosives.

For a while the whole yard was lit up by the bonfire and continual burst of fireworks overhead. Sadie leaned her sable head back and turned her sweet face to the sky. Sparks of light danced their reflection in the chocolate depths of her eyes. Contentedly she listened to the conversation around her. Dixie chattered happily beside her with Jenny Allen and Bethany Tolbert, catching up on their fall plans.

Sadie and Dixie had been friends since kindergarten. Had it been that long? Sadie’s face softened almost to a smile remembering. Dixie’s spark and sizzle had taught Sadie how to stand up for herself even then. Naturally a peacemaker and good tempered Sadie had a tendency to be pushed around by the kids at school. On the playground one day Dixie, wild main flaming and freckles popping, had stepped in to show Sadie how to take care of unwanted attention. Occasionally their tempers had flared on each other, even Sadie could have a streak of sass, but usually they lived in a happy camaraderie.

The darkness deepened and the fireworks ended. The Sheridan’s daughters Mary Beth and Emmaline joined the circle, as did most of the young men.

“Dixie, sing us a song,” someone encouraged from the shadows, and the request was echoed by others.

“All right,” she responded with a smile. Then turning to Sadie, “You want to?”

Sadie simply nodded. Dixie reached behind her seat and pulled the guitar case to her lap, snapped the clasps open, and took out her baby. Cradling the guitar in her lap her slender fingers began to play. Sadie was often surprised by the soft spell music cast over Dixie. For such a spitfire she could be uniquely soulful.

The strum of the guitar mixed with the night music of cricket violins, a frog’s mellow base, and the breeze rustling through pines overhead. In perfect unison Dixie and Sadie sang, their voices lifting up over the crackle of the fire, rising and dancing a haunting harmony. Sadie’s clear, pleasant voice overlaying Dixie’s rich, expressive one. The group fell quiet, enchanted by the music and flames.

Dixie’s green eyes closed and emotion filled her face. Her red curls danced in the breeze, catching the light of the bonfire and mimicking the flames. Sadie swayed in her seat, eyes closed as well, hands open in her lap, a look of tranquility smoothed across her soft features.

Down on the river bend

true love waits

sweet Mississippi girl

thinkin’ ’bout her boy.

Steppin’ out in cotton

sunshine on her face

she’s waitin’ on the day

he’ll be home again.

And she prays,

asking God, please watch over him

he’s so far away.

Just a boy with a gun

and a uniform.

And she waits.

One day she got a letter.

Her heart stood still.

The words ripped right into her.

I’m so sorry but he’s gone.

Mississippi girl

thinkin’ bout a boy

and she waits,

waiting for her heart to heal.

The last note hung, fading in the night. Angela whispered nearby, “Dixie, why you always gotta’ make me cry.” Fragile laughter filled the air, breaking the mood.

“Sing a fast one, Dixie, sing Cowboy Memory,” encouraged Mary Beth.

Dixie’s musical laugh rang out her agreement. Her fingers flew and her boot tapped. The girls sang, spinning their magic into the night. Friends clapped and many of them joined in singing song after song. One of Bo’s college friends, a tall, fair young man named Reid, grabbed his guitar too.

After more than a dozen songs Dixie laughed, “my fingers are hurting, I can’t keep going! Besides I start student teaching tomorrow.” A couple of friends agreed, adding their sentiments to the late hour.

Mrs. Sheridan, who had quietly joined the group midway through the songs, stood up to bid the friends goodbye. The slim sandy blonde woman hugged Dixie, “Come back for a visit honey, we’d love to see more of you. And good luck tomorrow.” She smiled warmly. Dixie had always like Linda Sheridan, she carried herself with style but without pretension.

“Yes ma’am, I will.”

In spite of the late hour Dixie had a spring in her step on the way to the truck with Sadie. “Come on Sadie girl, let’s get you home.” Climbing into the truck the girls waved and shouted their goodbyes to other departing friends.

Settling back in the pickup as they headed down the long, dark driveway Sadie sighed, contented to end the summer on such a happy note. Dixie hummed as she drove. Sadie was partly asleep when they pulled up to her tall, white, Victorian home in town. Dixie reached over and gave her arm a soft squeeze, “I’ll call you tomorrow Sade.”

“Mmhm, I wanna hear how it goes. Good night.” Dixie watched as Sadie made her way up the path and slipped behind the ornate front door.

Come back next week to find out more about Dixie’s family, her town, and how she get’s on student teaching!

So what did you think about Dixie? Don’t leave me hanging, I want to hear from you! If you’d like to see some of my inspiration for Dixie’s story you can step into Dixie’s world on Pinterest.

{I encourage you to share this link with friends. But please don’t copy and paste, that way ownership of the story will never be in question. Thank you.}


20 thoughts on “Dixie Lee ~ Part 1

  1. I’m there, Beck! I’m right there with those Southern folks. You have finally coaxed me to read a story online. How do you know so much about engines? David and I were in magnolia-laden Miller County, Georgia Sunday for an 80 year old Southern aunt’s funeral. It’s not Mississippi, but the local color and flavor is much the same. I did look at Dixie’s World on Pinterest. See you and Dixie next week! Laura

    • I’m glad to have kindred folk traveling with me on this online journey! Well, come to find out I didn’t know so much about engines. I had googled how to fix a carburetor! But dad set me straight!

  2. Great story! I love all the details, the crickets, the car grease, the guitar strumming, the frogs, the pines. This is a character I like and feel comfortable with (I also live in the South!). She is unique in the female world and glad you weren’t afraid to include details of a pickup engine. One correction: I think you meant “mane” instead of “main” regarding hair? I’d LOVE to follow this story. Good job.

  3. Right behind you on this one, Beck! Can’t wait to read and share next week’s installment of Dixie Lee. The dialect, the characters and even the old truck bring back lots of memories from my growing up in the South. Great piece of writing! God bless you as you continue Dixie Lee’s story.

  4. Wow. This is such a beautifully written story. You write so nicely that I can imagine the scene in my head. It’s lovely. I kind of wish it was next week already so that I can read the rest!

  5. Pingback: I’m Not Done Risking Rejection | The Accidental Mama

    • That’s me I’m a jumper! Might not know where I’m going but boy I jump! I was nervous about sharing a first draft but the accountability of weekly working on the story is really helpful. And hopefully a little community of Dixie fans grows and I’ll have a built in critique group!

    • Thanks for your encouragement! I’m planning on finishing it here on my blog a week at a time. When it’s done we’ll see what happens. I’m hoping to be able to go to a writers conference next year and find an agent for this and another book I’m just about finished with.

  6. Pingback: Dixie Lee ~ Part 3 | The Accidental Mama

  7. Pingback: Dixie ~ Part 4 | The Accidental Mama

  8. Pingback: Dixie Lee ~ Part 5 | The Accidental Mama

  9. Pingback: Dixie Lee – Part 6 | The Accidental Mama

  10. Pingback: Dixie Lee ~ Part 7 | The Accidental Mama

  11. Pingback: Dixie Lee ~ Part 8 | The Accidental Mama

  12. Pingback: Dixie Lee ~ Part 9 | The Accidental Mama

  13. Pingback: Dixie Lee ~ Part 10 | The Accidental Mama

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