Skin Deep

By: Vivian Ward

Chapter 1



When Thomas came in, he looked exhausted. I did everything I could to make his evening comforting and relaxing, but I knew something was troubling him. As we laid in bed that night, I asked him what was wrong.



“What isn’t wrong?” he sighed. “Pincetti Properties came out and talked to me today while I was out chopping timber and made me an offer.”



“An offer? What did he have to say?” I asked my husband.



“Actually, it was him and the Mayor. I swear, if it weren’t for Pincetti lining the Mayor’s pockets with his eminent domain development, none of this would be going on.”



“Oh, this doesn’t sound right.”



“No, it’s not,” he wrapped his arm around my shoulder. “They’re trying to force us to sell before the city council approves the eminent domain. I gotta hand it to ‘em, they know what they’re doing.”



“What was the offer?”



“Pincetti offered to pay us $175,000 for all the acreage, including the house and barn. I told him it wasn’t enough, but he disagreed. He said that in order for them to build the new apartment complex and strip mall, he’d have to clear all the timber. According to him, it would cost quite a bit to do all 80 acres, which lowers the value of our property.”



“That’s crazy! Our property is invaluable!” I protested.



“Yep, I know, but you can’t tell the suits that. This town’s been stuck in the past for the last 75 years, but money talks. And Pincetti’s got enough of it that it talks to everyone”



“What are we going to do, Thomas? I don’t want to sell everything and have to move.”



“Me neither. My family’s lived here for five generations. We’ve been supplying the entire town with firewood for the last 100 years. It’s all I know how to do.”



“If they forced us to sell, what would we do? Where would we go?” I was coming to the realization that the eminent domain would pass, forcing us out of our family home and business.



“I don’t know, sugar. The town’s so racist that I can’t foresee any of the white folks giving me a job. We’d have to leave the city.”



“That’s good ‘ole Nevada, Missouri, for you,” I sighed. “We’d have to move to a bigger city for you to find work. Have you thought about what type of work you’d be interested in if push comes to shove and we have to start over?”



“Yeah, but I don’t know if I’d be able to find a job that pays enough to support you and Natalie. Cutting timber, running the pecan grove and supplying chicken eggs barely cuts it here—and the cost of living here is considerably cheaper than a bigger city.”



“You’re pretty handy. What about a construction job? Or even working in a factory?”



“They usually want a high school diploma or GED; both of which I can’t produce.”



I studied him as he talked. His lanky body looked worn out and his eyes looked weary.



“We’ll figure it out together. The reverend’s wife told me that the eminent domain isn’t supposed to pass until next year, that should help buy us some time,” I tried to reassure him.



“Can you imagine if we had to move to a bigger city with Natalie? This acreage and farm life is all she knows. She’d be lost in a big city,” he said.



“I know. All we can do is cross that bridge when we get there. Right now, we need to focus on doing what we’ve always done.”



“That’s one good thing about this town always wanting to keep old money in it. No other businesses have been able to set up shop here—until now, apparently. Most of the town hasn’t been able to afford to upgrade to central heat so they have to rely on their wood burning stoves for the winter.”



“Amen to that,” I laid back on my pillow. “Let’s try to get some rest, we’ve got a long day ahead of us tomorrow.”



“Love you, sugar,” he kissed me goodnight.



“Love you, too.”





§





As Judy fell asleep next to me, I couldn’t help thinking about our future. What would I do if we really had to sell the acreage? How would I support my wife and daughter? It’s a man’s job to take care of his family! I refuse to let my wife work just because I don’t have a piece of paper that says I’m qualified to work at some job. Besides, she can’t work. Someone has to stay home to take care of Natalie. Those deaf schools costs a lot of money, and we can’t afford to send her to one as it is now. It also wouldn’t make sense for Judy to get a job, only to hand her paycheck over to a caregiver for Nat.

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