"I was getting along fine with Mama, Papa-Daddy and Uncle Rondo until my sister Stella-Rondo just separated from her husband and came back home again. Mr Whitaker! Of course I went with Mr. Whitaker first, when he first appeared here in China Grove, taking "Pose Yourself" photos, and Stella-Rondo broke us up."
The first person narrator, known simply as "Sister", gently appeals to the reader to take her side as younger sibling Stella-Rondo attempts to turn the family against her. Adding further interest, Stella-Rondo has brought home her "adopted" 2 year old daughter, Shirley-T, that the family knows nothing about and who bears a striking resemblance to Mama's father, Papa-Daddy.
Things come to a head on the Fourth of July, when Uncle Rondo takes action:
"But at 6:30 A.M. the next morning, he threw a whole five-cent package of some unsold one-inch firecrackers from the store as hard as he could into my bedroom and they every one went off. Not one bad one in the string. Anybody else, there'd be one that wouldn't go off.
Well, I'm just terribly susceptible to noise of any kind, the doctor has always told me I was the most sensitive person he had ever seen in his whole life, and I was simply prostrated. I couldn't eat! People tell me they heard it as far as the cemetery, and old Aunt Jep Patterson, that had been holding her own so good, thought it was Judgement Day and she was going to meet her family. It's usually so quiet here."
Sister decides she must move out. There are some very funny passages as she chooses what to bring with her, what is rightfully hers, as she goes to live at the China Grove Post Office where she is postmistress.
The story can be read in its entirety here, and a 1956 audio clip of Welty reading an excerpt can be found here. I don't read much Southern Literature, but "Why I Live at the P.O." has got me thinking about trying one of Welty's novels.
Short Story Monday is hosted by John at The Book Mine Set. Stop by to see who else has a short story post to share.