Come and Go, Molly Snow

Come and Go, Molly Snow: A Novel

Mary Ann Taylor-Hall
Series: Kentucky Voices
Copyright Date: 1995
Pages: 272
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  • Book Info
    Come and Go, Molly Snow
    Book Description:

    Mary Ann Taylor-Hall's highly acclaimed first novel,Come and Go, Molly Snow,introduces us to Carrie Marie Mullins, a gifted Kentucky bluegrass fiddler and singer in the Hawktown Road band. After moving to Lexington to develop her talents, Carrie becomes infatuated with the band's leader, Cap Dunlap. Her romantic distraction prevents Carrie from saving her five-year-old daughter, Molly, when she careens down the driveway and is killed by a truck. Overwhelmed with grief, Carrie breaks down.

    Cap finds Carrie in this state of distress and takes her to Ona and Ruth Barkley, two elderly sisters living in an old farmhouse. It is on the sisters' farm that Carrie is able to slowly come to terms with her heartache and guilt over Molly's death. As she picks up the pieces of her shattered life, Carrie draws on the two women's friendship, her inner strength, and finally, the healing power of music.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-5991-1
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 5-6)
  3. ONE Full of Holes
    • One
      (pp. 9-32)

      The day after I graduated from high school, I cut out. Left my mama weeping in the carport. “I’ll be back, honey, don’t cry,” I yelled out the window of my inheritance, Daddy’s old Riviera. But she knew what I meant: back for Christmas, back for the Shorter family reunion. In all other respects, goodbye flat dirt and frozen-out orange groves, hello 1-75. If you want to play the fiddle in a bluegrass band, that’s one of the roads you’llbeon. Renfro Valley to Dayton, Ohio. Live Oak, Florida, to Knoxville, Tennessee. “Doin’ 75 on 1-75” is the name...

  4. TWO One Main Sound
    • Two
      (pp. 35-42)

      In Florida, I had a fringed suede jacket I got at Second Chance and some cowboy boots. “Rodie-Odie,” the boys at school called me then. Once, some chunky hood yelled across the parking lot, “Hey, ride me, Rodie, I buck rill good.” I gave that boy the eye through my long brown hair. I told him to go buck himself.

      My father gave me the boots for my fifteenth birthday; I bought the jacket to go with them and modeled the whole outfit for him, with my best jeans. He said, “Now you're cooking, Baby Blue.”

      I was a tall,...

    • Three
      (pp. 43-56)

      Those years in Lexington, before Molly was born, I worked my day job, took fiddle lessons, practiced, played around Lexington with one patched-together group, then another, looking for my chance. I lived on the strungout, hardscrabble edge of survival for a long time. I couldn’t let down for a minute—maybe a pizza on the weekend if I had a coupon. The reason I wear my hair long and sort of unruly is I never could afford to get it seen to, and by the time I could, I’d gotten used to myself this way.

      Sometimes my friend Martha would...

    • Four
      (pp. 57-78)

      Well, it was a phase.

      Getting pregnant ended it.

      I got pregnant on purpose, I suppose. I just didn’t let myself in on the plan till the last possible instant. What happened was, I ran out of patience with myself at exactly the same moment I ran out of optimism about what was going to become of me, one night at a party that Cap passed through like our own bright meteor.

      He gave me a little generic hug—put an arm around me, sideways, and pulled my left shoulder toward his chest. “Well, hey, Carrie,” he said. “Some of...

    • Five
      (pp. 79-92)

      The next day found me on the Hawktown Road itself, headed for Cap’s house, to practice.

      It had happened so fast that a merciful dreamlike state had set in. I was so far out the other side of thrilled that I’d bent back around to regular. Perfectly willing, perfectly open, stepping over all my modest hopes and dreams intowhatever comes nextOnce in a while, life moves out ahead of your imagination and leaves you following behind without a thought in your head. Stunned, I guess you’d call it.

      I left Molly with Martha, feeling as though I were...

    • Six
      (pp. 93-105)

      “Carrie Mullins from Lexington, Kentucky, over there on the fiddle—give her a big old North Florida welcome, folks.”

      I was the emergency fill-in, the holding operation.

      I fell in with the plan. I hung back, reined myself in, so tactful I wanted to puke. As with most bluegrass bands, it was Hawktown’s practice to stand stock-still up there, not even tapping a toe, looking at their flying fingers with deep puzzled interest as though they’d never seen them before in their lives and couldn’t say what they might do next. I tried to hold still too. I took my...

    • Seven
      (pp. 106-117)

      I can’t remember exactly how Cap and I started singing duets together. It happened gradually. By the time I noticed, it was as though I’d never sung any other way.

      The difference between Louis and Joyner and Cap singing and me and Cap singing was this: I made him mean the words. The way I look at it, that’s about the worst thing you can do to a bluegrass man.

      Bluegrass music, you know, doesn’t like to show its feelings, not like Daddy and Ned Agee and Eugene Osborne, reaching way in for what they didn’t know they knew. Bluegrass...

    • Eight
      (pp. 118-121)

      I took out the little policy on Molly at the same time I took out the big one on me. The guy talked me into it. Accidental death, double indemnity. The big one’s still got Molly as the beneficiary. Maybe I should put my mother’s name on it; she could surely use the money, if I should kick off.

      Mama stayed with me for about a week after the funeral. The evening after I put her on the plane back to Florida, I came home and sat down at the kitchen table to fill out the form on Molly’s policy....

    • Nine
      (pp. 122-129)

      One main sound. It made sense, it figured. There’s one main light in the world; everything we call color is a splitting apart of this light. So I thought there might be one great chord, too, like the light of the sun, that separates into the notes of the world. Creation would be the splitting apart of this chord. Music would come out of it, every note, every harmony. Music would also try to get back to it.

      It was just an idea, but the idea excited me. I seemed to know what it meant; it drew me. It comforted...

    • Ten
      (pp. 130-138)

      He knelt on the floor beside me. He said my name. I still remembered it was mine.

      What would have happened if he hadn’t come? Would I have died there? Of what? Would I have literally opened a vein? I don’t know. I can’t see me doing that. I don’t know.

      Maybe I would have just sat there on the floor for a little longer, gotten up when I’d come to the end of it, and lived my life in a normal, regular, quiet way. Maybe I just needed to sit there a little longer.

      He knelt beside me, talking...

  5. THREE Star Quality
    • Eleven
      (pp. 141-153)

      The blue bottle of window cleaner, the cloths, the roll of paper towels. I have left them spilled across the grass behind me. The stepladder, knocked onto its side. I didn’t stop to right it. I just took off running, away from the job Ona gave me.

      When I get to the wagon road, I slow down to a fast walk, through the stalled light. I can’t hear anything now but the whirring song of the cicadas and leafhoppers, coming in waves, rising and falling like the electricity that runs the world. The hot glare of the sky hits the...

    • Twelve
      (pp. 154-170)

      Let her sleep,I wake and hear someone say. I fall back. A drone, far off. Then closer. Then gone again.

      Where he is.

      I try to rise toward it, as it comes near. It’s as if the heel of a hand against my forehead shoves me back. Then I have to do it all again.

      I climb a steep bank, the high slick side of a question.My life now.It looks like a cliff to me, pale blue.

      I wake in the heat. I lie under the sheet with the electric fan blowing over me.

      Is this evening,...

    • Thirteen
      (pp. 171-190)

      The lights spill down the hall, onto the dark wide floorboards, out of the kitchen. Comforting smells, cooking fruit and roasting meat, rise up the stairwell. At leastsomebody’s taking care of business around here, banging lids on pots. Guess who. I should go in there and help, but I’ve got this one project I want to accomplish before dark. I slide out the side door with my buckets into the storm-colored twilight, catching the screen door with my foot so that it doesn’t bang behind me.

      We’ve heard all this before—the absentminded thunder, way off, the leaves hissing...

    • Fourteen
      (pp. 191-195)

      Toward music. Ona’s flipped on the radio, to keep her company while she cooks. Ruth’s standing in the hallway, showing off her new outfit, bright periwinkle-lilac, she’s not shy. Price tags hang off of it. “I saw it the minute I walked in the store,” she’s bragging to Ona. “I headed straight for it. When I see what I want, I don’t ask how much. I was in and out of there in fifteen minutes.”

      “Why, that’s wonderful, Ruth,” Ona says, draining the steaming water off of the potatoes.

      I’m trying to get on top of this sudden, fluorescent-lit kitchen...

    • Fifteen
      (pp. 196-207)

      One, low and lullabying, asks Jesus to bless our food. Forwhat we are about to receive, may the Lord make us truly grateful.

      To me, this sounds like a blind and desperate prayer, for who knows what we are about to receive? We might have to take it, but I don't see why we have to pray to be grateful. “Granny, Granny, you sure can cook,” Cap says then, by way ofAmen.

      I feel mean and shy as a thirteen-year-old, scowling at my plate. Ruth’s over there clinking her ice cubes, taking us in— I feel like Exhibit...

    • Sixteen
      (pp. 208-232)

      What? Hero? Nothing rhymes with that except zero. Lovelife with a Scout knife? Hell.Slippin’in to set me free.

      Turn at the stone fence. Turn at the church. Cross the two-lane with the blinking light, turn again at the bridge. I’m driving to clear my head, know my mind. It seems everything about me is up for grabs.

      I’m going home, back along the narrow forking roads through the thick night of the full but unseeable moon. I’m going home to get my fiddle. I don’t want to play it, I just want to get it. Have it with me,...

  6. FOUR Careless and Gay
    • Seventeen
      (pp. 235-250)

      I lie flat on my stomach, with my head twisted to one side, trying to see up into the hole in the elm tree by the dim beam of my glove-compartment flashlight; everywhere I shine the light, no squirrel. But if it didn’t knock down the board to get out, where is it? The heap of dry cat food Ona put in there for it seems untouched, the water cup is full. I can’t tell how far up the tree the hollow runs—thin, vertical ridges of jagged dark wood back the narrowing space. Maybe there’s a way up and...

    • Eighteen
      (pp. 251-268)

      What time is it? Don’t know. Where am I going now? Don’t know. Someplace where I can practice my music without being heard.

      If a hunter saw me, he’d surely tell all his friends—Little Lady walks again. But I’m just an apprentice ghost, just ghost-hearted.

      No, I’m not. I’m a flesh-and-blood woman trying to hack it. Trying to find a way to live the rest of my life, that’s all.

      Don’t cry, Mama, I’m all right, just playing my fiddle in the middle of the night.Kind of a little jig.

      All the frogs left in the world have...

  7. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 269-270)