Monday morning came quickly. As usual, Mama Gray was up early, drinking coffee and reading the newspaper. Kristin came down a little later and immediately grabbed the classified ads that had been laid out for her on the table.
“Morning,” Kristin said as she opened the paper, then commenced to buttering a piece of toast from the ruby red ceramic platter on Jana’s right. Grits, eggs, and coffee were also available on the stove behind them.
“Morning, sweetie,” Jana said, briefly looking up from the metro section she held. After a few more moments of reading depressing news, she refolded the paper and placed it on the table, too. I don’t know why I even read the paper anymore. Nothing, but bad news.
Then on a much lighter note, Jana engaged her daughter-in-law in more conversation. “If you need to hold the car all day, that’s fine with me. One of my cousins is coming by to cut the lawn and I want to be here when he arrives.”
“Thanks, Mama Gray,” Kristin said, biting into her toast as she continued to peruse the computer and retail sections of the want ads. “I do see a few places worthy of visiting today. And some of them are even in my field, too.” She smiled, encouraged by the possibilities availing themselves to her. Then after quickly eating the rest of her breakfast, Kristin went upstairs to get ready.
* * *
Carefully dressing in a gray linen suit, Kristin put the finishing touches on her makeup. Taking a step back to scrutinize her appearance in the closet door’s full-length mirror, she decided at the last minute to let her hair down out of its usual conservative ponytail and bun.
“A different look for this different life,” Kristin said to herself, before going back downstairs.
What Kristin didn’t realize was that having her hair down did wonders to soften the worry lines that were beginning to form on her twenty-five-year-old face. The last few months had been extremely difficult for her and a few creases were starting to appear on her caramel-toned forehead.
“Well, how do I look?” she asked, swirling around slowly for her mother-in-law’s careful inspection.
“You look great, gal. I just love to see your hair down like that. You used to wear it down a lot when Sammy was alive,” Jana observed from her seat at the table. She was just finishing her grits, eggs, and toast and was now on her second cup of coffee. Over the years, Jana has learned that leisurely consuming her food seemed to help her body digest it better.
Kristin smiled at that pleasant memory. “I know. He loved it this way. Sammy always said that this style made me look more approachable and likeable, and that my ponytail and bun gave me that stern, school-marmish look. I need all the help I can get today, so I let it down.”
“Well, you’re bound to find something today, sweetie,” Jana assured her. Her deep dimples showed as she smiled encouragingly.
Kristin smiled wider. I love this mahogany lady so much, she mused, reaching for the classified section again. She would be taking that with her.
Mama Gray always had a way of making Kristin feel good about herself. And Jana’s delightful dimples always seemed to make her smile. Sammy didn’t inherit his mother’s complexion or dimples. His features were more like his father’s – fair-skinned with thick, black hair.
Suddenly a dense cloud of gloom threatened to settle above Kristin’s head as she lingered over thoughts of her deceased husband. Stopping herself just in time, she pushed those things out of her mind. I need to be as positive as I can today, Kristin mused, wanting to make a good first impression on her would-be employer. Then after taking a deep cleansing breath, she gave her mother-in-law a kiss and began her day.
* * *
Around , a blue Ford Ranger pulled up to the house. Jana went outside on the porch to meet the driver. Her red shift dress billowed in the cool breeze of the morning. A breeze that suggested that they would be given a reprieve from the blistering summer days that Southa Augusta usually had.
“Van, is that you?” Jana smiled warmly at the tall man exiting the jeep.
“Cousin J, it sure is. They told me you were back. I’ve been out of town on business; otherwise I would have come much sooner.” Van took the brick porch stairs two at a time to reach her. In no time he was giving Jana a big, down-home bear hug. “I was real sorry to hear about Sam and Jr. How are you doing overall?” Van asked, inquiring about her overall well-being.
“I’m fine, Van. Just trying to get by now. What about you, brown-eyes? I heard you got a few businesses for yourself.” Jana smiled, revealing the joyful craters in her face. That welcome home embrace had done her heart good.
“I’m good, Cousin J. And yeah, I started a few businesses with the money granddaddy left me. One of them is lawn care.” Van smiled back, mirroring the same family dimples as they stood in front of the screen door.
“My Uncle Teddy always did look after his family. I hope you’re like him. You certainly got his eyes,” Jana said, wishing that her husband had been a better financial planner. If Sam had been, things wouldn’t be quite so hard for her now. Forcing those thoughts aside, she continued to fellowship with her cousin. “Listen, come on in and have something cold to drink before you start. By the way, I meant to ask you why you just didn’t send one of your workers out here to do my yard. Bosses usually don’t make house calls like this,” Jana said as Van courteously held the screen door open for her.
“Because I wanted to personally come see how my favorite cousin was doing,” Van replied, grinning as he followed her inside.
“You’re alright for a second cousin, you know that? You act more like a first cousin. Speaking of first cousins, how is your father doing?” she said, leading the way to the kitchen.
© 2007 by Suprina Frazier