Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Water Woman


Marlene Terry
A wide, deep irrigation ditch ran adjacent to the driveway by the house I grew up in. And my mom, as any other mother would, worried about how to keep her three little girls not only from falling in, but staying completely away from it too.

That ditch absolutely mesmerized me. There was just something wonderful about the sparkling water that ran down it, the dandelions that grew on the banks and bloomed brighter and bigger than any other flower/weed in the world, and the dragon flies and tiny frogs that played in and out of it.

"How treacherous could it be," I thought.

The truth is whenever I disobeyed and went near that ditch ... I was in it. Not by choice, but because of the slippery, steep edges enticing me to come closer and closer for a better look.
... No matter how carefully I proceeded, it wouldn't be long before my feet would slip out from under me and ... well, you get the idea.

It also never failed that when one of those involuntary dunkings took place, I would be terrified that this time the "Water Woman" WOULD FOR SURE catch me with her "long jagged teeth," and drag me deeper, ... where I would then be imprisoned and turn into a scaly, slimy, icky catfish ... with whiskers.

That graphic tale scared me to death and began shortly after my mother created a brand new sock bag for me and my sisters to use.

Don't hear about sock bags much nowadays. But back then, it was a necessity, what without the countless drawers and dressers of modern day homes.
It was just as it sounds, a handmade  fabric bag that hung in the closet and held socks.
For fashion sake, many were created to look like a corset, for instance, an animal of some sort or in our case "A SOLEMN, GLARING, WOMAN WITH BLACK HAIR" and no arms. ... Her open mouth was where we deposited our socks.


She was a scary sight right from the start. But what made her even more terrifying was the story Mom told us about the bag being made in the image of the Water Women.

"The Water Woman lives in the ditch in the summer," she would say with drama and emphasis, "and waits for children to fall in so she can GRAB THEM with her long, jagged teeth and drag them to where it's REALLY deep, etc., etc., etc.!"

... In my mother's defense, the "being imprisoned and turning into catfish," part of the story, was our (me and my sisters) contribution to the tale. 
But the whole of it kept us sockless for most of the summer, and very wary, careful and hesitant to go anywhere near the ditch.
... Still makes me shudder to think about it!

♦ Hope you'll let me share YOUR stories and photos here at my new residence "In a Nutshell." Email me at nutshellstories@gmail.com.