“Momma, where’s Mamaw?”

“I think she’s out in the yard somewhere.”

Regina Woody opened the back screen door and called out, “Mamaw!  Mamaw are you out here?  Then she spotted the old lady down along the fence standing very quiet and still.  She was watching something.  Regina Woody walked down past the peach trees to where her grandmother stood.  “What you doing?” she whispered.

“Look Honey,” said the old lady.


“It’s the Little Yellows.  See?  The Little Yellows are out.”  She pointed to the honeysuckle growing along the fence.  There were eight or ten small yellow butterflies fluttering above the green leaves in the morning sun.  See how the dance,” said the old lady, “Like darting yellow petals.  They are another of the Lords simple gifts.”

The small yellow insects flittered like tiny dancing marionettes in the bright sunshine.  It was as if they moved in time to some sweet melody that only they could hear.  But the old lady must have heard it too.

“They’re beautiful,” said Regina Woody standing very still beside of her grandmother.

“When I was a little girl just about your age my momma made me a Sunday dress out of material with Little Yellows on it.  Oh, how I loved that dress.  Momma told me that they were a reminder of God’s love for us.  They’re only here a short time.  Then they’re gone again for another year.”

As Regina Woody watched the tiny butterflies it seemed to her that the world opened up around her, the clear blue sky, the distant green hills and the sweet smell of the honeysuckle there before her.  It felt as if she and her grandmother were standing at the very center of the universe with the colors and shapes spinning slowly around them.  Is that the gift of God, she wondered?  Is that why the butterflies dance?”


James William Gardner

Author of, “DEEP AUGUST: Short Stories from the American South,” and “THE HEALING GROUND,” James William Gardner writes extensively about the contemporary southland. The writer explores aspects of southern culture often overlooked: the downtrodden, the impoverished and those marginalized by society. His work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net.  Gardner is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University and lives in Roanoke, Virginia. His work has appeared in numerous publications including Deep South Magazine, Newfound Journal and The Virginia Literary Journal.

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