For the want of

Littleton, West Virginia © Google Maps

After Jimmy’s funeral, I walked back from Country Cupboard past his place. I saw his car still up on blocks. He was always going to fix it, he said. Get out of this town.

When we were still in school he liked to tell me about all the places he was going to go. When we were smaller still, we hiked amongst the ferns and forest, and caught crawdads down on Sugar Run. One spring he made me a bridal bouquet from blue-eyed Marys and stole a kiss.

“I’m going to marry you someday,” he said. “We’ll move away.”

Such silly things as kids’ll say.

Up the hill from his house, the white birch stand sentinel, like skeletons amongst the gray-bark slopes. For the want of a ’98 SL2 suspension, we could have left.

For the want of a job at the pipeline, he could have stayed.

147 words

This has been a depressing installment of What Pegman Saw. I kept hoping for some redemption as I worked this piece, but it never materialized. Littleton, West Virginia is the poorest town in the second poorest state. Between my research and the dreary rain today, I think I need an uplifting book, a cozy fire, and a box of Godiva.

To read more stories inspired by the prompt, or to submit your own, click here.

Littleton, W.Va., is a town decimated by poverty, drugs

22 Comments

  1. Tragic, but beautifully written Karen. The same sad story repeated for so many people, with so few opportunities and painfully short lives. Very good

    1. Thanks so much, Lynn.

  2. You depict the hopelessness beautifully. I get a great sense of regret in the way this is voiced. Nicely done. Maybe next week we should go somewhere fun, though 😉

    1. I NEED SUGGESTIONS BAD (hint hint)

  3. The often hopeless feelings attached to poverty so well described here, Karen. Beautifully, too, I might add. I remember as a child, one of my many firehouse “uncles” told me that the best hope I had was to find a way out of town as soon as I could. I held that advice in my heart, and as soon as i could, I did leave. Went back once for a little over a year to get back on my feet and left again, never to return, so i hope. My hometown wasn’t Littleton, perse, but there were two classes, those “richies” associated with the college, and all of us ‘townies’ who lived in poverty.

    1. Isn’t that funny, I remembered replying to your message but I must’ve dreamed it. I lived in a town ravaged by addiction and poverty much as Littleton has been, although not to the degree. I know well of what you speak!

  4. You’ve drawn the two characters beautifully, one directly, and the narrator by inference. What a lovely picture you paint of the two childhood sweethearts, and how sad that, for the want of living in a more prosperous place, they never had the chance of living happy lives.

    1. Thanks for your kind words! So glad you liked it.

  5. We’ll crafted and touching Karen. I couldn’t find a way to write a story that didn’t seem condescending. You succeeded where I failed.

    1. I’m so glad you liked it. Maybe you’ll change your mind and post… I have a feeling you can write anything you put your mind to.

      1. You’re very kind, but there are lots of times when the inspiration just won’t come. I took a virtual wander round Littleton and spotted a house that was a little run down but where the owners had put up lots of plants in baskets. I tried to write something to celebrate people who strive to keep beauty and colour in their lives when there are so many pressures to dampen their spirit and zest for life. I gave up as I couldn’t shake the notion that it would sound patronising. Better luck next time?

      2. Fingers crossed, I enjoy your work. I’ve been there though, when the words refuse to do what you want.

  6. I agree about the heavy vibe – but it is also rich and just really in tune with life – and current events. and smiled at your book with chocolate.
    anyhow, regarding your piece, what I liked most was the beauty you gave us in the reflecting – the flowers and the stolen kiss – gosh – could feel that.

    1. Thanks prior, glad you enjoyed the sweetness of it. Speaking of sweetness, I could still go for some chocolate!

  7. Dear Karen,

    I didn’t read your story before I read yours, I promise. Actually the only similarity is that we both wrote Jimmy’s from Littleton. 😉
    So well written as always. Such a sweet story to begin with ending in hopelessness. Both warmed me and made me shiver.

    Shalom,

    Rochelle

    1. Aw thank you for your kind words. I can’t wait to read about your Jimmy.

  8. I’ve seen something akin to this kind of life in some of the little towns in my state. Nothing quite so bad as Littleton, but you’d be surprised at the amount of drugs some of these small communities hide. Also, if they’re dependent on a single industry and that goes away, the town might as well die.

    1. That’s the truth. Thanks for reading.

  9. A beautiful description of life – and death – in a small town. It immediately put me in mind of parts of To Kill a Mocking Bird.

  10. Lavanya

    Beautifully written that tugs at heartstrings. Great write!

    1. Thanks Lavanya, glad you liked it!

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