MERRY’S legs throbbed something awful. To make it into town in time, she darn near ran the rest of the way, and it felt like the bones of her legs were roasting over a slow fire, smoldering underneath her skin. She wanted to find a safe place to sit down and rest, give the pain time to pass. But she knew she couldn’t. The good white folks of Locust Grove wouldn’t take kindly to a young, healthy Colored gal lounging around on her high tail when she could be in the fields making money for one of them. Merry was just going to have to choke back the tears and keep moving.
Merry tried not to look as afraid as she was. In all of her nine years, she had never ventured far away from the safeness of home and she had only been into town once or twice that she could remember.
On their farm, they had a cow, some pigs and chickens and pretty much grew all of the fruits, spices, herbs and vegetables they needed. And her momma only ever went into town to buy medicine or something for special occasions. The last time was last year, when she brought Merry with her and bought material from the general store to make a new Easter dress for Merry and long pants for Johnson.
Johnson’s long pants now hovered halfway between his ankles and his knees and Merry’s dress still hung off her a bit. Dora always made Merry’s and Johnson’s clothes larger, so that they could grow into them over the seasons. But it looked like to Merry that every morning, her baby brother woke up hungrier, taller, his feet a bit wider and his arms a little longer. Merry, though, was hardly growing at all.
Merry wondered if she would ever grow up into a beautiful Colored woman like the one now walking out of the general store. The young woman, carrying a small bag of licorice candies, wore a pretty navy blue dress and matching gloves. She was also petite, and curvy, not straight and flat chested like Merry. The color of coffee and cream, she wore her hair pulled back into a bun underneath a blue and white hat that matched her blue and white pumps.
The woman smiled hello to Merry over her shoulder as they passed each other, a brief moment of recognition. Captivated, Merry watched her drive off with a handsome Colored Army man at the wheel of a beautiful jet black 1940 Ford two-door deluxe sedan – a car she had only seen in picture books from up North.
“Gal, you standin’ in my doorway attractin’ flies. You comin’ in or not?”
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