The other night I had a few gummy bears before going to bed, and this is what I earned:
A dry, dusty road lined with trees on one side and wheat fields on the other leads into a town still steeped in late Victorian traditions even though it was 1939.
The white families owned and operated the shops in Town Center, and the black families farmed the town's supply of chicken, wheat, corn, and beans. Everyone shared with everyone and the town kept to itself. Very rare was the child that would leave and return an adult, world weary and ready to settle their own farm, their own family.
Maggie was sick of small town living and too smart for her own good. After graduation from high school, she left without saying goodbye, an ugly parting with her then-boyfriend Gerald reinforced her decision to run away to St. Mary's women's college. Becoming a veterinarian was her number one goal in life because she knew if she stayed in Plainsville, her goal in life would be to marry and pop out ten babies before she turned 30. Staying in Plainsville and having kids wouldn’t be so bad if it could be with Benjamin Mayfair, the older brother of her childhood friend Jimmy. When Ben's brother Jimmy died last summer, she thought her whole world had crashed down, had shrunk to a pinpoint of pain. Ben poured himself into whiskey bottles, and her boyfriend Gerald begun pushing for an engagement. The day she graduated, Maggie decided that was it: Time to leave.
Young and miserable, Ben drank, a lot. So much so, that he didn’t notice a year had passed. His last year of high school took his brother Jimmy from him, and now? Maggie’s gone too. No Pa to look up to or seek advice from, no one to reassure him that life would get better. The only thing that seemed to improve was his capacity for liquor and his ability to keep it down. The only thing that would make him happy again was if his little brother was still alive, and if Maggie would come back. Being the role model to the younger classmen was like being a real live hero. They were always near, always ready to listen to his every word, and for Ben, they’d become a sort of comfort. Knowing just two steps behind him was his brother and the girl his brother loved was akin to knowing just where his Ma had stashed his old kiddie blanket; the childhood comfort was never too far away for him to reach out and be reassured. His brother was always just there, never too far away to play with. Losing his brother was just about the worst thing he had ever experienced. Losing Maggie to a college across the nation the next year was almost as painful. He never felt good enough to be near her, let alone talk to her. Even though she was one year younger, she was too far above him; too clean and innocent to deal with his darkness. What was the point of talking to a girl when you couldn't even face your own self in the mirror?
5 years later...
The town Matriarch, Bessie, makes rounds with the farm folk in an attempt to keep them a community, to try and prevent the young Gerald from running (and winning) the town’s Mayoral position. Gerald's role as Mayor would be the downfall of the town. Gerald would bring in new companies, new commerce and new people to fill in the space between the farms; to take over their town. Bessie hadn’t survived two husbands and fifty years of shaping the place just for Jane’s boy to take over and upend everyone and everything. Visiting all the closer farms was easy for Bessie, being that most of them pointed in toward the center of town, cropping outward to make a flower design on the land. All she had to do was walk the ten-mile circle around to each farmhouse door. But to visit the outlaying farms was a bit more difficult. Bessie might have the constitution of someone half her age, but her knee joints weren’t in on that fact. Walking thirty some-odd miles was going to keep her in bed for a time. But if it meant keeping Gerald from buying up more land, and becoming Mayor, Bessie’d walk a hundred miles! For this day she had scheduled the furthest farmhouse, old Hattie’s farm, because the prospect of saving an encounter with Hattie for last left a bitter flavor on her tongue.
Nothing in life would make Gerald happier than making Mayor and marrying Maggie; for her to forget her nonsensical dream of becoming an animal doctor and come back to Plainsville, to see he did make something of himself and to realize she'd loved him all along. Winning Mayor would just be the first step he'd take in securing a future for him and Maggie. Well, the only thing that’d make him happier is if he could out maneuver Benjamin Mayfair in land bids. How a drunkard could be so good at eyeing the perfect plots of land, he couldn’t figure. The next day he was scheduled to meet with the town Sheriff and talk future politics. Gerald and Sheriff Sonny grew up as neighbors and when Gerald went away to college, Sonny made sure to try and visit at least once a year. The two were like peas in a pod, and as far as the town was concerned, Sonny was in Gerald’s pocket- lint, tuck, and fold.
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