Moonshine and Epsom Salt by Jean McIntyre Cogdell

I overheard mama talking. When I came in the house; the worry and anger in her voice made me tiptoe to the kitchen doorway. Grandma sat at the table; Mama’s voice stern.

“Look at your face…”

I eased back out of sight; something was wrong. Fear reached for my throat when I noticed the tears in Mama’s eyes.

“He’ll think long and hard before he goes down in the holler again and spends my money on rock gut.”

“You should’ve never stood up to him like that.”

My mama went to the sink, and rinsed out the wet cloth she’d been holding. Then Grandma turned toward the light as Mama placed it on her face.

I stifled a gasp at the sight of my grandmother’s black eye and swollen cheek. She took the rag from mama and patted her hand.

“Honey, don’t you worry. The only thing he cares about now is praying to live.”

“What about next time?”

“You don’t worry yourself about next time. That fool’s gotta learn there’s consequences.”

“Seems to me, you’re the one does the paying.”

“Girl I have my way. He spent most of last night and this morning running to the outhouse after drinking all that Epsom Salt spiked moonshine.”

A slow smile formed on Grandma’s lips as she told mama about spoiling the jar, as she called it.

“You could’ve poisoned him!” My mother’s eyes widened and her hand covered her open mouth.

“Yeah, moonshine’s been known to go off on occasion. That sure would’ve been unlucky if he’d bought bad moonshine.”

I stood in the doorway, watched as both burst into fits of giggles, and for a brief moment suddenly looked like young women again.

Born in North Carolina, Jean McIntyre Cogdell grew up in a small town located the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. She is the author of Jean’s Writing.