Katy Roth refrained from kicking the ceramic turkey planter on the porch. Barely. She sat on the top step, its aged and grayed wood visible through the peeling paint. Her hand clenched convulsively, crumpling the letter she held. The contents didn’t surprise her. Not really. They were hardly past the merriment of Halloween, and she already knew things to be thankful for, come Thanksgiving, were going to be few and far between.
Unable to sit still, she shoved the crumpled document into the front pocket of her hooded sweatshirt and rose to her feet. She took a deep breath and sucked in a lungful of crisp, fall air. Her feet crunched through crimson, gold, and ocher leaves as she made her way across the yard toward the woods.
With Thanksgiving approaching at the end of the month, it was the time of year for counting blessings, but all she could think about were the things going wrong in her life. Because of the poor economy she couldn’t find a full-time job and was living back home. Daddy’s physical health was declining. And now her ex had cut his child care payments. She kicked at a clump of leaves. Normally she wasn’t so pessimistic, but lately it was like living in a house of cards. All it would take was one more calamity and the whole thing would come tumbling down. She didn’t know if she had the fortitude to scramble out from underneath.
A noise from over by the utility shed caught her attention. She looked over and her mouth dropped open. Had her negative thoughts actually conjured another catastrophe?
A man carrying an armful of wood strode toward the driveway. An unfamiliar pickup truck sat in the gravel. Was he stealing from Daddy’s woodpile?
She broke into a run. “Hey. What are you doing?”
The man turned and Katy gasped as she recognized him.
Her surprise turned to trepidation. Joe was the town’s bad boy. Literally. He’d been sentenced to prison. She couldn’t remember for how long. Had he been released already? Well, if he were stealing, he’d be headed right back.
Until next time,