the origin of clouds (a novel)#4

            There stood Lincoln Douglass Kind. A man with three last names and no legacy, save five children who had grown up without him ever fully being there and an ex-wife with whom he’d been twice married and divorced. The first divorce was after he had “gone away” for a sixteen-month stint in the state penitentiary for receiving and selling stolen property. Susan had been young enough the first time they married—eight years younger than him, who was twenty-eight at the time—and foolish enough in love and in her own way broken by life to believe there was something to be gained by second chances.

            At three months pregnant and with one baby on her hip and another clinging to her leg, she got a glimpse of life married to a junkie and career criminal. Maybe worried nights waiting for him to come home, if he came home and wasn’t, “God forbid,” calling from prison or lying dead from an overdose on some stranger’s floor, she thought better of herself and wanted better for the children? Or maybe she thought divorce would give her the stability that marriage couldn’t? That was before she already had two that were barely old enough to mind her and stay put while she tried to feed a ten-month old that was teething and refused to eat. Before she had endured two years of humiliating visits from forty-something year old white women social workers from Children and Family Services who saw in her their worst fears for themselves and their daughters. She learned to greet their pity with a strength that can only come with surviving the odds against her. How would a poor, young white woman who was pretty-enough and seemed smart enough to be anything she wanted, in spite having married below her middle-class background and out of her race—a drug addict and thief at that—raise three children alone?

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