*A small piece I worked on over the past couple of months, recently resurrected from my computer to be shared with friends. Enjoy!*
A man lumbers towards my porch, his face gnarled with age like an old oak tree. I can barely see his squinty eyes through the lumps of flesh underneath his glasses. He’s coming my way for a friendly chat, a pleasant conclusion to his afternoon stroll. I didn’t invite this man for a visit; until he began speaking I wasn’t even sure I wanted his company. Introductions are made; I’m to call him Mr. Hawkins. His voice matched his appearance, gravely and jaded.
Mr. Hawkins began telling me about his deceased wife, an odd way to begin a conversation with a stranger. “I was married to my first wife for forty-two years, we did everything together until we lost her to cancer. She was a good woman, raised our four kids right outside of Boiling Springs. They all turned out pretty good, except for my youngest son, but I suppose every family has a rotten apple in the basket.”
I nod, thinking of my own family’s rotten apple.
“My second wife is a good woman, too. She’s a nice woman to live with, keeps me company. I married her four years ago, this’ll be our third Christmas together.”
Mr. Hawkins didn’t bother to correct his memory math, neither did I.
“I met my first wife when she was sixteen, I was twenty-one. I was a dairy farmer then. When the cotton patch was white, we lost the farm. We had three hogs and one dairy cow, and that dairy cow gave us the smoothest milk you ever tasted. That man came up from South Carolina and took all our corn and cotton. He took it all and that was when the farm was broken up.”
He jabbed his cane into the dirt.
“Now I live just up the road with my second wife, she’s a good woman. I aim to visit my sons but I don’t like the traffic on the highways. Kids don’t know how to drive, so I’ll just stay at home. When my daughter got her first car, I told her I’d sit on my couch until it was safe to leave.” His chuckle turned into the cough of a smoker, lungs that have been wiped with a harmful coating of nicotine. Mr. Hawkins gazed into the distance, as if surveying land which had been replaced by highways and fast-food chains, “Those cotton patches will never be white again.”