Morning First Draft, No. 4

Here are Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

Karen looked out across the parking lot and honestly could not tell how this place was different.  She and John left their home 3 months ago and arrived here two weeks later, but there was not a lot of difference.  Just more hills and you could see the mountains to the west. 

It shouldn’t have taken them two weeks to get here, but John took the scenic route west.  They went east first, then ventured into South Carolina, then stayed in Charlotte for a few days with one of his Marine buddies and finally found a place to stop in the form of Shelby.  They found a house to rent just north of the central part of the city proper on Buffalo Street. 

John was out looking for work and she needed to get out of the house.  So when Ann offered said she had to go to the grocery store, she jumped at it.  Ann lived next door and took care of her two kids.  Her husband was a truck driver.  He was one of two black drivers at Carolina Freight and was gone a lot during the week. 

“How about you two get in the backseat and be quiet?  We’ll go to Dairy Queen on our way home if you stay quiet until we get there.”  Ann slid into the driver’s seat of the station wagon and Karen fit herself into the passenger seat.  Ann’s son and daughter obeyed their mother.  “They love sitting in the drive thru for some reason.” 

“It’s something to experience.  It’s new.” 

“I guess so.  How are you holding up?  John find a job yet?”

“I’m…fine.  A lot of stuff has changed real quick.  I got pregnant.  We had to leave Clinton.  I think we’re both just tired right now.”

“The one thing y’all have to think about now is that baby.  Nothing else matters.”  Ann started humming a gospel song Karen recognized from when the orphanage used to take them to church every Sunday.

“You got a beautiful voice.”

“The one you ought to hear is that girl back there.  She can sing.  She’s in the children’s choir at church.  You and John should come with us one Sunday.”  Karen looked back and smiled and Sasha who looked around through the glasses that were almost as big as her head.  “Alright, you too were good, what do you want at Dairy Queen.”  Ann pulled into the parking lot and around to the drive through. 

A couple of hours later Karen sat on her couch listening to the radio.  John’s truck pulled up and he got out.  He stopped and stretched his back and looked up and down the street checking if anyone was sniffing around.  He came and sat down beside Karen on the couch.  “How did it go today?”

“I did find a job.  They got a couple of new elementary schools and they hired me to be a custodian at one of them.  I start Monday.”  She grabbed his neck and gave him a big hug.  “I think we might be home now.  How was your day?”

“I went out with Ann and the kids.  Learning about being a mama.”

“You’ll be fine.”

They sat in each other’s arms for a few minutes before Karen noticed John snoring softly.  He hadn’t fallen asleep like this since Clinton.  She slid from under him as quietly has she could with her growing belly and went to start dinner.

An hour later she gently woke him up to eat.  “Sorry about that.  I didn’t know I was that tired.”

“You haven’t slept through the night since we left.  I’m surprised you haven’t just fell over one day.”

“I guess.”

“Would you mind going to church with Ann and Charles on Sunday?  She invited me today.” 

“If you want to.  Where they go to church?”

“I’ll ask her tomorrow.”

“Why you interested in going to church now?”

“You got a job now.  We having a baby.  I just want to start having a home.  We left the orphanage, you went to Vietnam, we left Lejeune, then we had to leave Clinton.  I want to start settling down and raising this family.”

“OK.  We’re going to find a church.  I’ve dragged you all over this damn state enough.  If you ready settle down, we’re going to settle down.”

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