Dogwood by Chris Fabry Read Free Book Online

Book: Dogwood by Chris Fabry Read Free Book Online
Authors: Chris Fabry
Tags: Fiction - General, FICTION / Christian / General
    I went to sleep that night thinking of the bobbing, floating sticks and how they were like our lives. Carried along by a current bigger than either of us, oblivious to the obstacles ahead.

K arin
    I rolled down the passenger-side window and let the wind blow through the car, fluttering my hair. It gave me a sense of freedom I hadn’t felt in a long time. Kids in car seats don’t like strong wind nor do husbands with receding hairlines.
    In one long conversation we’d had on the lawn, Ruthie, through her genial poking and prodding of the soul, helped me see how much I had become a prisoner of small things. ChapStick. Tic Tacs. A favorite pen. A television program I simply couldn’t miss. Air-conditioning.
    “You can measure your life by the things that control you. People’s reactions, for instance,” she said.
    At that moment in the car, I did not care a bit about my hair, the way my blouse flapped in the breeze, or that we looked like such an unusual pair. Ruthie sensed it, I think, and smiled as she rolled her window down. It made me think of the tune “I’ll Fly Away,” because that’s what I thought her hair would do.
    “How does it feel?” Ruthie said.
    “Amazing,” I said. “Free. I get so caught up with what to pack in the kids’ lunches each day when they usually just throw the whole thing away. Are you sure you don’t want me to drive?”
    “Just relax for a while. I packed us a nice lunch. But we do need something to drink, and I see the gas gauge is a little low.”
    The Exxon station was just ahead, and Ruthie pulled up beside an empty pump. I got out and started the pump while she headed for the convenience store. She asked what I wanted to drink and I told her.
    “I’ll pay for the gas,” she yelled over her shoulder.
    I pressed the right buttons, and the pump numbers sped by. I collected some trash out of the backseat. The garbage can was full. A few ambitious bees flew sorties around a Dairy Queen cup, reminding me of the hornet’s nest when I was a kid.
    “The can over here is empty, ma’am,” someone said behind me. “I can take that for you.”
    It was a thin man in a gray shirt, his hands and fingernails dark and grimy. He reached for my trash, and something passed between us, a recognition.
    “Karin? Is that you?”
    I handed him the trash. “Yes. I’m sorry; do I know you?”
    “Arron Spurlock. You used to—”
    “Arron?” I gasped.
    “You used to babysit my little sisters, Doris Jean and Judy.” He touched my shoulder and smiled as wide as the New River Gorge.
    Being the oldest, Arron should have been named after his father and grandfather. In some families, names are passed down like old socks and whoever seems to fit them best keeps them. But Arron’s mother was the biggest Elvis fan on the planet, and though she had trouble with her spelling, she named him Arron Pressley Spurlock. He had become “Elvis” for obvious reasons.
    “I remember it like it was yesterday,” I said, looking from head to toe. “It’s been so long since I’ve seen you. You sure have grown up.”
    “Yes, ma’am, I guess so.” He looked at me curiously, as ifbecoming a mother or the wife of the local pastor was as foreign to him as Thai food.
    “What is it?”
    Arron waved a McDonald’s bag and smiled. “It’s nothing. I just didn’t expect to see you here. I’m glad I did.”
    “How are your parents? They well?”
    “Tolerable, I guess. At least my mom. She has pleurisy, so it keeps her inside most of the time. Dad passed a few years ago.”
    “Arron, I’m so sorry. I hadn’t heard.”
    “Well, he had the black lung.”
    “And your sisters?”
    He rolled his eyes. “She’s still Doris Jean. Always will be, I guess. Judy’s married and moved to Akron with her husband. She has a couple of kids now.”
    Ruthie came out of the store carrying a plastic bag that weighed more than she did. She listed to the right, and I was surprised she didn’t tip over. I

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