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War Torn

By Anna Butler

Chapter 1

Prologue

"Under our Constitution,

The freedom to marry, or not to marry

A person from another race

Resides with the individual

And cannot be

Infringed by the State"

U.S. Supreme Court, Loving vs. Virginia, June 12, 1967

Authors Note:

Hi everyone, this is my attempt at using a photo prompt from Tumblr to write a story. I know I should be working on the sequel to The Beholder's Eyes but once I saw this picture I couldn't get it out of my head it just seemed so perfect. By now you know me; my stories can be long but I am trying to give a quality story if I can; God willing. If you are willing to go on this journey with me to find this completed story in my imagination I would be grateful to have you come along for the ride. The song is this chapter is called "Baby won't you please come home. It was written by Clarence Williams and sung by Bessie Smith recorded in 1923. I am doing research and trying to stay as accurate to the timeframe as I can but remember this is fiction so I beg for forgiveness early if I use any subject matter clearly for dramatic effect.

Disclaimer: I do not own Glee or any of its characters.

"Oh my Lord, this is a hot one isn't it?" Liza spoke as she was fanning herself and beginning to pull at the hem on her skirt. She then placed her hat on her head, her momma always told her that a lady looks good in a good "Going to Meetin' Hat", Liza looked at her reflection in the mirror and then yelled "Sam, hurry up ya' hear! I declare that boy can be as slow as molasses when he wants to be. You need to speak to him dear." Liza had determined that if she got her husband Joe involved then Sam would have to listen to his father. "He's a comin' don't be so pushy." Joe replied as he moved his pipe from one side of his mouth to the other.

"We cannot be late this morning there is a new family just come over to the neighborhood; folk in town has been a sayin, due to a death in the family- is the word, and I wanta get a chance to meet them and welcome them before church service. After momma's passing I know how sensitive a time this really is- I am hopin' that I can help." She informed him. "Sam!" she called again. Sam a boy of eight years came running into the front room. He was real tall for his age and it made him a little clumsy when it came to puttin on his clothes. "Awkward" is what is grandmother used to say before she had passed, two months ago. "I'm sorry momma." "My shoes hurt, they feel real tight." The boy said. "Lord have mercy aren't you growin' like a weed." She said to Sam; as she tussled his hair and then began putting it back into place with her hands.

"Joe, I hope you heard that the boy is gonna need new shoes." Liza said while shaking her head. Joe who was looking at the Sunday paper while smoking his early morning pipe never put the paper down, all he said from around it was, "It is summer the boy don't need no shoes." Liza looked at her husband in utter disbelief; her husband was probably the only man in town who felt that kids could run around barefoot all summer long; he gave no thought as to what to do for Sunday Services. "Joe it is not like when you were a boy anymore, this is 1923 and..." She said as she put a little spittle on her finger and wiped away a smudge off of Sam's face. "I know what year it is!" He quickly barked and interrupted her speaking. "He'll have 'em in time for school and that is that!" Joe said as he put his paper down, stood up, and took the last sip of his coffee. "I thought you said you wanted to get to Sunday Meetin' early; then let's get going." Joe then headed out of the screen door.

Liza reached back on to the table and picked up her purse and ushered Sam out of the screen door behind his father. This was the best part of Sam's day; going for a ride in dad's new Model T Ford. He was supposed to be in bed asleep when he first heard about the car. His father used the money his grandma left his momma to buy it. Momma wasn't too happy about that either. She cried and cried something awful that night. Sam recalled as he sat inside and watched the landscape go zooming by him. You would never know she was so upset now, as she sat next to dad and talked his ear off. Sam could tell that his dad was not impressed because he didn't speak much just kept nodding his head every few miles.

Sam wondered why his dad got married in the first place. His father did not seem to be too happy about it. "That's why I think girls are silly, who needs um." Sam thought. Sam then allowed his thoughts to go to more productive endeavors like the sound of the motor and the wind whipping through the open window. He enjoyed scenery; looking at the farmland spread out almost as far as the eye can see, interrupted only by a small house here and there which stood out like a lighthouse on a shore, and he felt that the best thing that he could do in life would be able to travel and see all of the scenery that he could find. He wanted to travel the world. His momma's brother was in the Army and he sent them picture post cards from all over. He liked the idea of that. "One day" he thought to himself. "One day I will join the military and see the whole wide world." Sam's thoughts were interrupted by his mother's declaration that they had arrived as his father's disposition perked up a bit.

Sam watched his father stand a little straighter and pull at his suit coat a little tighter once everyone saw them getting out of the car. The crowd came and met them. Sam always thought it was funny that no one ever met them when they used to walk to church. Sam remembered thinking that his father looked a little "prideful". He had heard that word in church a few Sundays back when the reverend was preaching; he thought that was supposed to be a bad thing. But he also knew that his father hadn't heard that message because he had fallen asleep during services that week.

Caroline County, Virginia was such a small community of farmers and share croppers that the whole town was standing around their car. Sam immediately lowered himself as close to the ground as he could go and pushed his way through the legs of the people around him. This was not an easy thing to do anymore because he really was getting taller and taller. "He was a whole two heads taller than anyone in his class by now." his teacher had said last week.

Once he had broken through he took off running to the big chestnut tree that was behind the church. He used love to go there and find any chestnuts that had fallen down. His best friend Paul and he would find as many as they could; save them, and dry them out; then they would roast them and sell them at Christmastime. He liked the idea that he was growing up into being a "Fine little businessman" that is what Paul's father used to say. He liked Paul's dad a lot. Sam knew that it would be a sin to admit it but he sometimes wished that Paul's dad was his own instead. Sam's own dad never said a word about his chestnut business; instead all Papa Joe would say is "As a farmer you are going to have to learn about more than chestnuts."

When Sam rounded the corner of the church he was surprised to see someone sitting at the base of his tree; but it was not Paul. A colored girl who he had never seen before was sitting on the ground with her arms wrapped around her knees which were up close to her chest and her face was buried in her lap. The closer he got to her he could hear that she was crying. Sam could not tell how old she was, but she did have long legs that he could tell from how they bent at her knees and just kept going all the way down to her white ankle socks and black shoes. She was wearing a brown dress with little flowers on it. She also had on little white gloves and a little black hat on her head.

She reminded him of when his momma was crying a couple of months ago because of grandma dying. He didn't know what to do. He didn't want to disturb her but... "She was sitting by his tree and no one gave her permission to do that!" He thought. "Why ya cryin'?" He blurted out louder than he had expected to, but her head was down, so he guessed it would be alright. The little girl's head shot up and she looked in the direction of the voice that she had just heard. She saw a tall, thin white boy with sandy blonde hair, a white shirt, dark pants, and dark shoes standing near her. Sam noticed that her brown eyes were still filled with tears so he decided to speak again. "I said ...why ya cryin'?"

"Who are you to be askin' me?" She answered sharply. Well, Sam did not expect that answer. He didn't know what he expected, really, but it certainly wasn't that. "I am the owner of that there tree your sittin' under." He said. "Now that is just silly only God owns this tree." She replied as she stood up and dusted off the back of her dress skirt. "How do you know that God didn't tell me I could have it!" He quickly barked back. "Because it is sittin' behind his church and if he was gonna give it to anyone it would be the preacher; are you the preacher?" She asked. "How could I be the preacher stupid I am 8 years old!" Sam said with an air of smugness. "That's how... I know; that God didn't say you could have this tree!" She said with determined confidence. "And my name is Mildred, not stupid, you're stupid!" She continued. "Well that is a stupid name!" He continued to argue. "I bet your is worse; what's your name." She said. "Ha ha I'm not gonna tell you my name stupid; so there!. " Sam said.

At that moment Paul came running around the corner of the church "Sam; hey Sam, I'm sorry I'm late; I hope you didn't start without me!" Sam turned around and quickly started shaking his head "No" to Paul but it was too late. "Ha ha S-A-M (She spoke while dragging out the syllables of his name ) like I said it's worse!" And with that Mildred stomped away from the tree and from both boys back to the front of the church. "Who was that?" Paul asked. Sam stood there with his mouth hung open and yet he was so mad he didn't know what to do. Paul asked again "Who was that?" Sam looked at his friend and said "She is some brat named Mildred!"

XXXXX

The church in Caroline County was the only building that had two floors besides the courthouse. It was made up of small homes and small businesses which ran down the center of town. It was a farming community and everyone lived together and tried to help each other out the best that they could; a body willing to work was the best friend that anyone in this community could have. The only times when things were different was during church for some reason; all of the colored folks sat upstairs on the second floor Sam had always noticed.

It really didn't mean all that much to him, before today, but now he found himself stealing glances upstairs. He wanted to see her again for some reason. He didn't know why exactly. He had determined that he just didn't like her; the only thing that was really bothering him was that she never did actually tell him why she was crying. "How could he have talked to her for that long and never gotten an answer to his first question?" He thought. Sam's eyes continued trying to scan the balcony for her but he could not see her. He knew he probably had to turn all the way around but his mother would not like that.

The preacher was preaching a message about "Loving thy neighbor." and Sam just giggled under his breath. He had seen his neighbors and they might have been nice an all; but he could never see himself truly loving Ms. Jacobs; she was too old and smelled of liniment all the time. Sam saw that momma's head was now down, and her eyes where closed as she raised her hand and swayed back and forth. Sam saw his dad too. His head was down but for the wrong reason; he could hear the small snores that his father had let escape his nose. This was Sam's time and he was going to take it; he turned all the way around and looked up in the balcony straight into the eyes of Mildred, she folded her arms across her chest and then she unfolded them pointed at him and then pointed at the preacher; her eyes never left his. "He was so caught." He thought. He immediately turned around and tucked his head down.

"Did she just tell him to pay attention? How dare she? Who did she think she was? She was not the boss of him!" All of these thoughts raced through his mind but he did not turn around again. Once the preacher had finished preaching his message he said that he wanted the whole congregation to welcome a new member to the church and the community; a new neighbor in which they all could love. "Please stand up so that we can all say hello to Ms. Mildred Jones." The preacher pointed up into the balcony. She stood up in the balcony and waved a small wave while holding onto her grandmother, Mrs. Thompson's, hand with her other hand. "She has come to live with her grandmother Mrs. Thompson & Mrs. Thompson's stepson Alfred, due to the death of her father; hopefully her mother Ida is it?" Mrs. Thompson nodded. "Hopefully she will soon follow her to the fold; after taking care of some final arrangements." The whole church clapped to welcome her. Sam's mother Liza nearly broke her neck turning around trying to get a good look at her. She never did get to talk to Mrs. Thompson before church because so many people had surrounded her and Joe; still talking about their new car.

Sam refused to turn around again this time; he didn't even clap. He did feel a little sorry for her about her father dying, and she was not with her mother either; that would be reason enough to cry he supposed, "But no, she was still a brat!" He thought.

After church Liza did corner Mrs. Thompson asking all kinds of questions about what had happened to the family and she pulled him with her. "I am so sorry 'bout yall's loss." Liza said. "If there is anything that me and mines can do, in this terrible time, please don't hesitate to ask." Liza continued. Sam stood there fidgeting trying not to look in the eyes of the girl who was facing him. "She was about as tall as he was." He thought. He hadn't seen that anywhere before. Then he heard something that stopped his thinking and he felt a panic set in. "What did he just hear?" "What did momma just say?" He thought. He missed it when his mother spoke just now but he heard Mrs. Thompson's response and that was enough to send him into a fit of anger. "Oh, that's quite nice of you. I reckon Sam spending the summer showing Mildred around would be lovely. She needs to make new friends 'round here to help her feel ta' home."

"Mawmaw?" Mildred said. "I'm sorry but I don't feel well can I go'on home." She said then Mildred started swinging the hand that had been holding on to her grandmother's. "I have to stay for sick and shut in ministry I have some people to take communion to, and Alfred has taken off across the way yonder to help with Mr. Brooks to tend his crop this afternoon." Mrs. Thompson said. "I can find my own way pleeease!" Mildred asked again. Liza spoke up quickly "Sam can take her." Both of the children looked at Liza Evans as if she had just shot someone un-expectantly - they were horrified! Liza then spoke again. "Sam y'all get now and make sure that your home by supper."

Mildred asked herself "How could her life get any worse than this?" She thought. She was going to have to go home with this rude boy; not to mention spend a good deal of the summer with him if her Mawmaw had anything to say about it. She just wanted to be alone, she wanted to just go home and think about her dad and her mom. She wanted to run away from this place into her imagination and remember better times; times when she did not feel so alone.

Mildred's thoughts were disturbed by the sound of that rude boy speaking. "C'mon let's go!" Sam said and started walking as fast and deliberately as he could. "He might as well get this over with as soon as possible." He thought. As they walked down the road Sam started realizing this was causing him physical pain; then he remembered his shoes and he stopped and took them off. Mildred was trailing behind him a couple of feet when she saw him stop in the road and bend down to take off his shoes. "What are you doing?" She asked him. "What does it look like I'm doin'? "I'm takin' off my shoes, my feet hurt." Sam said clearly disgusted as to the fact that he was forced to explain his actions. "Uggh, I don't want to smell your smelly feet!" She quipped. "My feet don't smell!" He yelled. "That's what you think." She challenged him again. "I'm not walking with you! " She said. Mildred then crossed over the dirt road and started walking along the other side. "Good!" Sam shouted. He wanted to leave he was now carrying his shoes in his hand. He could have been skimming rocks down by the lake. He could have been playing soldiers with Paul up on Grant Hill; but no! He was here, stuck, taking this bratty girl home.

"Make a right turn at the divide." He yelled as she came to the fork in the road. "I know." She shouted back. "That is it! That is the last thing I am going to say to her." He thought. They continued to walk down the opposite sides of the dirt path, this time with her in front of him, when he heard it. "Singing?" He thought. "She was singing." He thought again. He could hear that she was doing it but he couldn't quite tell what it was that she was singing. He wanted to continue pretending that it didn't matter but if Sam was nothing else his family always told him that he was curious. He found himself walking a little faster up the road until he positioned himself to hear her clearly. Mildred was singing these words...

I've got the blues, I feel so lonely

I'll give the world if I could only

Make you understand

It surely would be so grand

I'm gonna telephone my baby

Ask him won't you please come home

'Cause when you're gone, I'm worried all day long

Baby won't you please come home

Baby won't you please come home

I have tried in vain

Ever more to call your name

When you left you broke my heart

That will never make us part

Every hour in the day

You will hear me say

Baby won't you please come home, I mean

Baby won't you please come home

Baby won't you please come home

Cause your mama's all alone

I've tried in vain

Never more to call your name

When you left you broke my heart

That will never make us part

Landlord's gettin' worse, I've got to move May the first

Baby won't you please come home, I need money

Baby won't you please come home

Once Mildred finished singing she had just walked up the path to her screen door. Then she spoke to Sam. "Did you see the name of the road that I live on?" She asked. "Yeah, it's Passing Rd. I am 'round the corner yonder a spell on Sparta Rd. not too far from here." He replied. "What was the name of my road?" She asked again. Sam was a bit confused but he answered her again nonetheless. "I said it is called Passing Rd." Sam spoke up more clearly this time. "Well, remember to just keep passing by!" She shouted and with that she went in and slammed the door.

Sam shook his head turned around and started walking back down the dirt road. Just like he thought "She was a brat….but, she had the voice of an Angel." Sam continued on his way home.

Author's Note: I hope you like the story in case you didn't know Caroline County, Virginia is where Mr. & Mrs. Loving grew up and lived with no racial disharmony in their community; it was just Virginia's law that made it illegal for them to be married there. I thought it would be interesting to make this Sam and Mercedes hometown for good background. What was it like living in that community so many years earlier? I hope you like the story and please take the time to review. I really would appreciate it.

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