Pa's been gone a few days now. Can't say I'm sorry- it's one less that's gotta eat, and he can be right fearsome when he's been drinking whiskey. That's what he be doin fore he left- drinkin. He got mad at all the kids layin round, squabblin and squawlin like they always be doin, an not much use to no one, an so when Burris run past him he grabs him by the neck an was yellin in his face, shakin and hittin him. My little brother Sloane, he be six, he cried, an then Pa turned to him and beat him too. My sister Tanya tried to get him off Sloane an she got licked too. I just stayed away like usual, just glad it not be me. It ususally do be me since I be the oldest- if one of them does somethin Pa ain't happy with, he beat me after he done with them fore letting them. But this time I be lucky an he let me be after he done with Tanya. Instead he went stumblin out the door mad as anything, cussin up a storm about all us kids an what we be doin to ruin his life. I don't rightly know where he be- I don't want to. But I do know he be turnin up soon enough, stinkin or licker an smoke, meaner'n ever. This ain't the first time an it won't be the last either.1

The only thing about when Pa leaves is there be even more work gotta be done. I get food for my seven brothers and sisters and me, and if caint get one of the boys to chop wood for a fire I gotta do it, or we be awful cold. Our shacks only got three rooms and they be right drafty. See, our ma died when Sloane be born, she be real sick and quietlike even before then, so I be used to helpin a lot. I been tendin the house an watchin my brothers an sisters long as I can remember. They all lazy, dont like to help me out with nothing if they can help it. They rather run and fight and yell and get filthy in the woods. I tell you it aint worth no effort to try an keep em clean, so I dont. My sister Tanya be almost 13, she the next oldest after me, but she aint no help, she too busy runnin after any man who'll have her to rut in the woods.2

I be so busy alla time, drawin water an trying to be gettin us food and keepin them kids, I hardly never got time to fool aroun. But sometimes if I get up real early I go out in the yard an I work on my flowers. I picked some right pretty purple ones in the woods one day an stuck em in the yard. I be waterin em and tryin to make em grow, an they look right nice, I think, the ones still alive anyway. It be hard to keep em nice and not shrively and dead but I done it. I like my flowers, they be nice to smell an look at.3

Pa don't like it when I mess with my flowers. Truth is Pa don't like when I do anything, or when the kids do either. He get awful mad when he be drinkin, an he drink most the time. It be scary when he hit on me or the kids, but there be worse things. I be takin a beatin any day over what he do to me at night sometimes. " You the oldest, Mayella," he say after he finished and finally let me go back to my pallet with the others, " you gotta take your mama's place, do all she used to. This be onea her jobs an you aint got no right to squawl about it."4

I aint likin it, but it be somethin I gotta do like cookin or cleanin. I be glad I be the only one who gotta do it though.5

I hope Pa ain't back too soon. That ole n-- Tom Robinson been passin by our place lots lately, be goin to his home I guess. I see him if I be outside. He be real nice to me. He say " Hello Miss Mayella, how you?" to me. Ain't no one ever called me that before. It sound right funny but nice too. Few times he even do some chores for me, an he don't even ask for no money. He be a right nice lookin man for a n--. It be a shame bout his withered arm, it be so bad he caint move it, but he still kin get along good as you or me.6

I been hopin, anyway, that Pa be gone a while still, cause I be sendin all the kids for ice cream today. Been savin the money long time now, hopin on a good way to spend it, an I found it. Tom's been so nice and fine I be gonna ask him inside, an when he be in, I be lettin him do what he want to me, to let him see how grateful I am. I dont care if he be a n--, he be nice and handsome mor'n any man I ever see. Pa don't like n--s, so I be prayin real hard he stay away. If he just keep away a spell longer, I reckon I kin make Tom real glad he be so nice to me. Maybe I kin even be feelin good too...7