Before he left for the War, Charlie said, “when I get home, I’m gonna marry you.”
I was walking home from my job at Ms. Linda’s; the apple blossoms were falling like spring snow. I was half way up the holler when Charlie came driving by. He leaned out the window and said, “ain’t you one of them Murray girls?” I ignored him, which just made him laugh. “Why don’t you let me give you a ride home?”
“You don’t think my legs are as good as your fancy car?”
He laughed again and I thought, that’s the nicest laugh I ever heard; I wonder if he has a nice smile? So I looked and he did, and the bluest eyes to go with it. When I smiled back at him he said, “you’re the prettiest girl in all of Kentucky.”
I snorted; what use is pretty? Then he said, “I leave for the War tomorrow, Miss Murray; you reckon I could write you a letter now and again?”
“I reckon,” I said, looking down at my scuffed shoes to hide my surprise.
And that’s when he said it: “When I get home, I’m gonna marry you.”
I laughed, but he looked stone sober. I watched him drive away and I ain’t seen him since.
That was two years ago now. But he’s been writing me and I been writing him back, too. (Ms. Linda mails them; Mama wouldn’t take kindly to me carrying on with one of those “uppity preacher’s sons.”) I told him when the daffodils came up in Mama’s garden, and how Ms. Linda gave me oranges for Christmas and I ain’t never tasted something so juicy and sweet! I told him how I caught measles from Ms. Linda’s girls and thought I was like to die but I didn’t; he said that’s because I’m a fighter like him. He said we’re going to win this war, because of fighters like him and me, and then things are going to be different. Better. I don’t know about that, but I hope…well, I just hope.