The Used World

The Used World by Haven Kimmel Read Free Book Online Page A

Book: The Used World by Haven Kimmel Read Free Book Online
Authors: Haven Kimmel
thyme, nutmeg. Salt. Her father ate onions as if they were apples, but didn’t hold with spicing food. She hadn’t learned the details of any world war, only the barest facts, and she didn’t know where on a map the great cities of Europe could be found. If she’d located the cities, she wouldn’t have known their currencies. She had never played a sport, had not run since she was a child, and her tendency to take long, brisk walks was frowned upon. At eighteen, twenty, she knew nothing about sex, only what she had heard whispered or otherwise referred to by her friends who’d married young, had children young.
    But for all this naïveté, what was forced and what was natural to her, Rebekah had seen many dead bodies. The Prophetic Mission denied her the knowledge of sex and reproduction, but found death to be, in general, quite wholesome. She’d attended the calling hours and funerals of more people than she could recall. Though there were plenty she remembered: profiles—first just a nose, a temple, the back of the head meeting the silk pillow—who became her aunt Lovey; her grandparents; her mother; Sister Parson, who died old, and Sister Lynton, who was only twenty-nine; and children, too, and babies. Martin Peacock, who owned Peacock’s Mortuary, was Prophetic, and his funeral home was as familiar to her as any place in the world. The members of her church stood at the wake of every member who died, the extended families of every member, near strangers. They attended funerals when it was politic to do so, or when the service would be interesting, perhaps because a daughter from home who sang beautifully—a daughter who had since gone on to Olivet or Bob Jones University—would be there, singing.
    INDIANA: CORN AND DEATH. She’d like a bumper sticker that said that. Ooh, that would vex her daddy, wouldn’t it? she thought, then realized she’d already gone about as far as she could where vexing was concerned, and was about to go the distance. The sky seemed somehow too close to the car—what was the problem here? The snow hadn’t started and yet the tires on the road sounded muffled, the color of a truck in the distance was dulled. She couldn’t tell where she was—somewhere on the County Line Road, but how far to go? Hadn’t it been a Wednesday? She would remember if Claudia had been there, she remembered everything else.
    She had been wearing green, her best color, according to Hazel. A green cardigan because it was a cool morning in early May. She’d been sitting with Hazel at the counter when Peter came in alone. He nodded at the Cronies, gave a little salute to Hazel. Rebekah glanced at him, back down at her book. She had been reading Other Voices, Other Rooms, one of Hazel’s favorite novels. The mule had not yet hung himself from the mezzanine, but that scene was coming. Peter was average height, thin, wearing baggy blue jeans, a blue nylon jacket, a red knit cap, and later she would have a simple, bright memory of his face as she saw it for the first time, as he looked at Hazel and before he looked away. His cheeks were flushed from the spring wind, and his lips were red. The hair she could see at the edge of the cap was black, curly. Red cap, black hair, pink cheeks, red lips, his wide blue eyes fringed with black lashes. The blue was a surprise, the eyes themselves so round they were almost feminine, and the eyelashes, too.
    He was not Vernon’s idea of what a young man should be. Rebekah watched him stroll into #14, pull out a drawer in a china cabinet, slide it back in slowly. He was wearing running shoes, something her father would never have tolerated in a son, if he’d had a son. Peter straightened a frame against the wall, tipped a floor-length mirror, rubbed the satin edge of a quilt; this was not how men behaved in her world. They stood still and kept a silent watch as their women committed such shenanigans; it was the province of the female to study objects and engage the earthly.

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