After leaving The Iron Horse, Jonathan jogged along the railroad tracks, trying to get home before dark, and to reach the crossing before the approaching freight did. A quick glance over his shoulder confirmed he wasn’t going to make it. A break in the fence loomed to his right, he darted through kicking up gravel behind him until reaching a narrow-paved side street. The long train rumble past, now blocking the most direct path home. Still, by the time he could detour to another crossing, the freight should have cleared the tracks. But first he had to navigate wherever he was. He slowed to a walk. Surrounded by ramshackle homes, many squatting mournfully behind overgrown lawns, he tried to orient himself. In the past two months he’d lived in Jamesville, he hadn’t seen this part of town. But somewhere ahead was Academy Street, which would carry him back toward the North Street crossing and past the backside of the trailer park.
Paul stared out his living room window at sunset. “How beautiful.” Anne always enjoyed the pastel colors of the clouds at this time of day. He glanced at her framed picture on the table, and once again, a twinge of pain and longing pulled at him. Had it really been a year since she’d passed away? Yes, I suppose so.
His chest tightened at the recollection of it. Totally unexpected. Went to bed and never woke up. Cerebral hemorrhage. Probably a peaceful way to go, but still . . .
Carolyn Esposito Carpenter put another thin blanket over the huddled form of her son, Jonathan. The boy stirred but did not awaken. Stay asleep my little one. How ironic she still called him that, though he was taller than she was. Even so, he would always be that, her one joy still to be found in this life of pain. Yet it was sad she couldn’t have done better. The trailer was cold and dark, not unexpected since the power was shut-off. They at least had water until the end of the month. She turned toward the kitchen area, only a few feet away and grabbed the envelope for the past due electric bill. Pen in hand she wrote:
Leaving for my new job. Will return tomorrow morning. If you need anything, see Cyrus at the Iron Horse.
Until then, love you. Mom