Where Are They Now?
“I’ll help you find them,” Cal told her as he scrambled eggs in his disorganized kitchen.
“I guess I’ll never be a nun,” said Kitty.
“Were you really going to become a nun?” he asked and looked over at her from his spot at the small counter, where he had surrounded himself with a variety of pans, forks, bowls, spices and an egg carton.
“That was my plan. I suppose Alva was right. I was just running somewhere. Running away, not really running to anything,” she mused. “Do you want some help?” She thought he looked like he needed it.
“I’ve had to learn the basics in this room,” he said. “A man has to eat. And when we split up, I found eating out all the time was just awful. It made me so sad. That’s when I miss the kids most – at mealtimes.”
Kitty didn’t know what to say. She thought about what it must be like to have children, to have someone who belongs to you, who’s dependent on you, someone you can love no matter what. Images filled her mind of the little house in Kentucky. She realized now how poor they had been and how that little house was not much more than a shack. It had been cold in the winter, the wind slicing through cracks in the outside walls, the bed she shared with her sisters sometimes covered in snowflakes that had blown in through those cracks in the middle of the night. Steaming hot in summer and not even a fan to cool them off. People like Cal couldn’t know what it meant to be that poor. For children to be so hungry they’d eat flour mixed with water rolled into cold balls. This kind of reasoning had allowed her to forgive her mother for what she had done to Kitty. But now that she had been out in the world, even for this short time, had seen all the missions and churches and even the city helping people in need, now that she had seen all that she felt angry at her mother. Why hadn’t she gotten help? Was it so different in Kentucky? Was there no one, not even one church she could have turned to for help with her children? In a strange way Kitty felt that she had been saved by being sold off. If she had stayed, what would have happened to her? And what did happen to her brothers and sisters? The baby would be seventeen now. Did she look like Kitty?
“Honey?” Cal said. “Did you hear me?”
“What? I’m sorry. I was thinking,” Kitty answered him.
He slopped the beaten eggs into the hot pan. There was a swooshing sound as the cold eggs hit the hot butter and a buttery scent filled the kitchen. “I said I’d help you find your family. That is if you want me to.”
“What if they’re all dead?” she asked, surprised at herself and a little horrified too.
“I’m sure they’re alive. Whole families don’t die just like that. They go on to other things. They move on, they grow up, they leave home, they work and marry and make a life. Sometimes it’s not the greatest life. But people do move on.”
He slid the eggs onto plates and they sat at the little counter, having breakfast together, an act as simple as stepping off a sidewalk. To Kitty it was like slipping through a portal into a new world.
“Like me,” Cal added. “And you.”