Queen Sugar: (Forgiveness)

June 23, 2014

From Queen Sugar by Natalie Baszile, 2014, a book about the sugar cane industry.  I grabbed it off the New Books shelf at the Kent County Public Library and it totally grabbed me back.

…Up and down the rows, farmers loaded air compressors, old sinks, and batteries into their trucks.  Standing alone in the shade of a shabby oak, Charley was afraid to check the parking lot for Denton’s truck.  Just the thought that he’d quit made her light-headed with shame.  She’d acted foolishly.  Now she had to go home and tell Micah and Miss Honey how badly she’d blown it….

The empty Coke can still in her hand, Charley walked toward the parking lot, braced for the sight of the empty spot where Denton’s truck had been.  But his truck was there, and yes, thank God, there he was, leaning against its door….She had never been so happy to see those Liberty overalls, the bald head, or that raggedy old truck, as she was right now.  Her first impulse was to run over, hurl herself on the ground, and beg for forgiveness.  She would apologize for everything…all of it — if he’d just give her another chance….

‘I was afraid you’d gone,’ Charley said, chastened, and then, ‘Oh God, I’m so sorry.  I’m such an idiot….I don’t blame you for quitting.’  If she thought Denton wouldn’t find it girly and manipulative, she’d cry.  And for an instant, she thought she might.  Her head was buzzing and there was that tightness again, like some gigantic, soggy wool sock was being wrung out inside her.  But then it lifted.  Just enough for her to say one word.  ‘Please.’

Nothing.  No reaction at all….

…Well, Charley thought, that’s it.  It’s over.  She stood clear as Denton back up and swung around.  A furious spray of gravel flew out from the tires and there was that awful grating sound, the sound of spinning tires over loose rocks and dirt, the sound of someone who couldn’t get away fast enough…..she listened, ….wondering if she could hold off crying until he was gone.  But the sound never came, and when Charley opened her eyes, Denton’s truck was idling right there in front of her and he was leaning across the seat.  And now he was reaching for the handle, and the door was swinging open. It wouldn’t be until later that night, when she was at Miss Honey’s and had time to think back on it, that Charley would understand there was a difference between kowtowing and letting people’s assumptions work against them; that there was a beauty and honor in the Japanese bough that bent but didn’t break, and she finally, truly, appreciated what a decent man Denton was.  That just when she thought her life was over, just when she thought she’d screwed things up (again), forgiveness and grace would be bestowed upon her with two simple words:  ‘Get in.’                       pp.  170 – 171

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