A Southern Mythology: Tales from Georgia


(an excerpt)

by Erin Armstrong

I’m sitting on my front porch smoking a cigarette because it’s 3am and I can’t stop thinking about fucking my father. And ain’t that just something. Is it? I mean, I’m not thinking about it because I want to be thinking about it, or because I want to fuck him. Even if I did he’s pretty dead so it would be something on several something fronts. Or backs, or my face and mouth… there I go again.

It’s really dark out tonight and even though I know exactly what’s out there in my front yard the darkness has ways of playing tricks. If I close my eyes, honeysuckle bushes let me know they’re still there. So that’s one comfort. Something not lost in the void. As far as I can tell.

The whippoorwill nesting somewhere nearby, maybe underneath the magnolia or by the wisteria vines growing up the giant loblolly, calls out and it’s that kind of sound that brings back wubbies and storms on nights just like this one. Or maybe not the storms that shook the house and made teeth rattle, but the kind that came and went and then birds sang all night and worms gyrated in the mud. Slick little bodies crawling over themselves and the dirt. It’s always so sexual. I would take them when I was younger and pull their fat bodies in half because it looked like perpetual birth and I needed to help them out. I imagine someone might not find birth sexual. But until I can figure out the difference between the sounds a woman in pleasure and a woman in pain on television make they will be the same for me.

So I’m sitting here thinking about fucking my father because too many stories and philosophies have told me that this is what it means when I write him kindly. This is what love is.

But I love the whippoorwill too and I don’t want to fuck a small bird anymore than I want to fuck my father.

And now I’m imagining sticking an entire bird up my vagina. How a songbird sounds underwater.

My father told me this story about how all the stars in the sky were actually moths before I knew they were balls of gas millions of light years away, moving further and further away from my eye or even not even real anymore. It’s that kind of story you laugh at when you’re older, but not because you think it’s funny. More like you laugh because you can’t believe how easy it is to trick children. Or because you still feel a little pang about that one because you could give a fuck about Santa and the tooth fairy but those night moths had done something.

“Listen, sweetheart.” He’s kneeling down with a hand that takes up my entire back resting against my heart. “Look up at the sky, what do you see?”


“The    stars.          I                see               the                        stars.”


“Yes,       but           what       is                              a                                  star?”




“Sweet                                                                                            girl.”


I’m not sure exactly how that conversation goes but it ends with me believing that moths flew up to make love to the moon and got stuck in the sky. And I’m not gonna lie. I still like that story better.

I can hear deer somewhere in the garden chewing on the asparagus tree. I say tree because it’s grown wild now, eight feet tall and flopped over. Their little hooves are digging in the red clay we tried to force into soil. Tomorrow, I will go out there and I will see how big they were. If there was a buck or a group of doe. The buck is always so heavy, forcing the clay down so far until sometimes I’m not sure the hole doesn’t go on forever. I’ve never tested it.

There might be little rounds of shit as well if that’s true. Buck always shit where they eat.

Once, when I was in high school, a buck in rut mounted me while I was drunk at a party in the woods. I was pissing behind a tree with big ivy leaves on the trunk because Josh Padgett’s mama didn’t want anyone draggin red into her house.

Sometimes, like right now, buck are really loud. They don’t care if you can hear them chewing your food. But sometimes, like then, they’re very quiet.

The buck snuck up behind me and held me down with a pair of hands almost human. Then there was a warm breath snorted in my ear, with little whiskers pressing against my earlobe.

“Call me God.”

I don’t know if you’ve ever felt a deer penis but it’s a lot like a man’s.

When I was six my father took me to get ice-cream because my mother had knocked all of the pictures of our family to the floor and was sitting in her car with the seat all the way back.

“Your mother doesn’t want to act that way, but sometimes her body is bigger than her.”

I’m licking a strawberry cone and nodding, but I don’t know shit. It isn’t until I’m older and I’ve been made to bleed too that I understand. My father could never understand but he always seemed like he did. And that was probably why my mother knocked all the pictures down.

When we get back I climb into the car and hold my mother’s hand. She has one arm across her eyes and she has the radio on low. All the windows are down and there’s a bee floating by the rear view mirror on my side. She lets out one great sob and then laughs.

“Oh, honey. I’m sorry. Mommy’s sorry. I’m fine, I promise.”

Later I will climb the magnolia tree all the way to the top where, even with the weight of my small child body, the tree will sway like a fresh widow and I will grab the largest flower for my mother because they are her favorite. No one will tell me until afterwards when I see it on her dash curled in on itself and brittle brown and I start to cry that you can’t touch them or they die.

I don white robes and make my parents sit in the breakfast room during the sunset to give the magnolia and a vole that my dog killed their funeral rites. My mother is the only one who acts properly.

When I stumbled back to the bonfire with buck cum sliding down my thighs, wetting my jeans and pooling in my underwear, I told everyone about the deer. Nobody believed me.

“Girl you musta got into some real bad shine!” I can’t see him but I know Corey Wilkinson just yelled that. His fat ass  wearing a pair of jeans too low on his hips held up by the grace of God.

“Shut the hell up, waddlin around like a goddamn duck. Fuck you, Corey.”

Everybody laughs but they all agree, I must’ve gotten into some bad moonshine. Fuck them. I don’t get how they’re gonna sit there and try and act like I’m their fool; everybody knows Padgett doesn’t have real shine.  He buys McCormick’s and puts it in his mama’s mason jars. I saw him when I got here, and he knows it too.

We make eye contact over the fire and he knows I know. He looks away from me and laughs with everyone else.

No shine in the world could do that, and I know it. The furred body rutting against my bare ass. The way he grunted like all of those plastic calls heard this season, taunts for fights. Maybe I should’ve known better, there were marks on all the trees. Point is, it was real. It was really real.

For a month after that I walked the woods clacking old antlers together to try and tease him out. I was gonna bag him. Field dress him––  gather those magical intestines in my hands and pull and pull until there was room for my hands and his heart. I was going to slit him from ass to breastbone and hang him from my biggest tree. Then they’d see.

When I imagine fucking my father I can’t help but see him as above me. And it is a fucking. He wouldn’t cradle me. He didn’t do that kind of thing. He may even sound like a deer. All grunts and rough thrusts.

Or maybe my father would have fucked me like a rabbit, fast and not much depth. I can’t be sure. Thank God my mama is dead too, because these kinds of thoughts just might kill her. She couldn’t take it.

He had hands the size of a bear, my father. I imagine they might have pawed at my breasts and covered the entirety of my chest. He might’ve been like a bear, not a deer. He would’ve taken a nipple between his teeth and he would’ve bit me. He would’ve made me bleed. He would’ve pounded into me and ignored all my moans for him to slow down.

The moon is so new tonight I’m not even sure it still exists. No stars either. Daddy’s been dead for a long time now. Long, long time. Something from the garden is moving closer.

image1Erin Armstrong is an MFA candidate at CU-Boulder. Her works have appeared in or are upcoming in Haunted Waters Press, SmokeLong Quarterly, A-Minor, New World Writing, Banango Street, and The Fem.

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