When I married Jedediah Hardacre it almost cost me my life, for a fact. 'Course, it isn't any wonder why I did it. I grew up on a rock strewn upland farm in Catfoot's Hollow near the banks of Tedious Creek. That accounts for a lot. There were nine of us kids in the Terry family and never enough of anything to go around. I don't remember a single night when we didn't go to bed hungry. But why my twin sister, Verbena, is doing what she's going to do, I just can't understand. It's not as if I haven't tried to warn her.
Verbena and I always attracted attention, because we're identical twins. But I have to admit there was a lot of jealousy between us, too. All the Terry kids wore hand-me-downs. But when things were handed down to Verbena and me, we had to share; make one good dress do for two. Nobody could afford to dress us up cute the way some folks did with twins. Looking back, it seems like we were always fighting over who got what.
I remember once Papa took the whole family to the county fair over near Cherokee River. Every place you looked they had hot dogs and ice cream and fat pink swaths of cotton candy. I watched other kids eating it, knowing Papa didn't have nine quarters. I knew not one of us would get any, unless we all could have some.
A woman tried to give me a quarter, but Mama jerked my hand away and said, "Lorena, come away from there with your hungry eyes!"
My sister Verbena's eyes were hungry that day, too. But she wanted the flashing lights, the wheezing canned music, and the prancing horses of the double-decker carousel. Papa had no quarters for her, either.
I guess you could say the only good thing about our growing up was the music. Grandpa taught me to fiddle as soon as I was big enough to hold a bow. Johnny played banjo; Everett and Chris played guitar, and Tom had a doghouse bass, so we had a pretty good little family bluegrass band.
Grandpa tried to teach Verbena to fiddle too, but it was hard for her, because she was left handed. We were supposed to share--but instead of practicing when it was her turn, she'd lay the fiddle down and go outside to play, so I'd pick it up. As usual, she accused me of hogging the fiddle, like everything else. But if she wasn't going to play it, I couldn't see why I should let that fiddle lay idle.
Anyway, by the time I was sixteen, I was a pretty good fiddler. If we went to a barn dance, or to one of the square dances at the Grange hall, I'd usually hang around with the old time fiddlers so I could learn their fiddle tunes. I had a knack for remembering all the different versions of them, too. Fiddle music changes in your heart and no two people hear the songs exactly the same way. So Bob Tarkas's version of "The Mason's Apron" has some added notes and is played in a whole other key than Ben Greene's version of the same song.
At fifteen, Verbena couldn't have been less interested in playing the fiddle. But she was interested in fiddlers, and most other kinds of men. Not that I was unaware of the opposite sex, myself. I had hungry eyes then for Jimmy Bob Ledbetter, and he for me. He was a bass player in another band and we made some pretty good music together for a fact. We got married three weeks after my sixteenth birthday, moved to Cherokee River, and had a baby. For awhile there, it felt like we were living on cotton candy. Every day of my life tasted sweet.