Chapter 3-You Just Never Know
After the spat with his brother, Nathan needed to just get away from his house for a while. He drove through the streets of Hawthorne that he knew so well. Parking on a side street behind Larsen's Hardware Store, he locked the car and shoved the keys in his pocket. Sauntering back toward Main Street he walked slowly down a sidewalk heading toward the upper end of town. Waving to the people he passed on the sidewalk, nearly all of which he knew personally, he took his time not really having anywhere particular to go and wanting to stall as long as possible before returning home.
As he neared the upper edge of downtown Hawthorne, he walked even slower, taking advantage of the lack of people out and about today to keep his pace and manner as unhurried and unrushed as possible for as long as he could, for when he returned home it was back to arguments and the like with his brother.
When he reached the church at the edge of town, he diverted his path from the sidewalk and made his way across the large lawn of grass turned an almost brownish shade of green from the summer heat and lack of rain. Sitting down on the large steps that led to the church's front door he looked out at the street in front of him. It seemed as if everyone had stayed at home today to stay out of the July heat and there was hardly anyone to be seen on the sidewalks even though on most Saturdays this area of town would be bustling with people eager to get out and socialize.
Giving up on trying to find something interesting from his current position, Nathan stood up and made his way back down the steps, pausing when he reached the bottom. He looked around for an idea as to where he could go to occupy his time and, as he turned toward the church's cemetery, an idea struck him. Milliard's pond. It was just down the hill behind the cemetery and if nothing else he could relax there.
With newfound purpose and a definite destination, Nathan made his way down the hill and the short distance from the church to the pond. As he approached, however, it appeared that he wasn't the only person that had sought solitude at the pond. He saw a figure that was most definitely a person sitting at the edge of the pond and, upon moving closer, saw that it was a girl…a black girl. Unlike his brother, Nathan didn't have the same superior, racist attitude toward blacks that his brother, and often his father, did. He could only see the side of the girl's face and didn't recognize her at all, but he didn't know much of Hawthorne's small African American population anyway. Hesitating for a moment, he wondered if he should continue, not sure of what this girl would think if he just showed up from out of nowhere. However, he decided that, if he didn't bother her, she probably wouldn't care.
Approaching the edge of the pond, he sat down a few feet from the girl, his legs stretched out in front of him just a few inches from the water. He sat for a moment before even looking at the girl just a little under two yards away from him. She was definitely black, with long dark brown hair that reached her waist and dark brown eyes that seemed to him as if she was oblivious to the whole world, including him. After a moment, he gave a quiet "Hi" in her direction, his thick, southern Mississippi drawl making the word sound longer than it was.
With the small amount of people Addison had encountered out and about today, she had never thought that anyone else would show up at the pond where she was currently relaxing. However, only a few minutes after her arrival, she heard a voice coming from close to her.
Jumping when she heard the quiet but startling greeting, she jerked her head in the direction from which the sound had come and saw a boy sitting a few feet away from her. He looked to be around her age with brown hair and brown, intelligent looking eyes. His thick, native drawl marked him as having lived in southern Mississippi for most, if not all, of his life and the soft, careful manner in which he greeted her gave Addy the impression that he was shy but not in an annoying way. She knew that white people who lived her tended to be predisposed to treating blacks differently and was wary about hanging around long enough to find out if this boy fit that stereotype. However, something in his face and his mannerisms told her that she had nothing to worry about.
"Hey." Addy said confidently, returning his greeting. "Hot out here isn't it?" She added, trying to see how he would react to her attempts at conversation. Nathan, in turn, smiled at the fact that she hadn't ignored him, for he desperately needed someone to talk to no matter who it was, life in a small town was quite boring for Nathan and he felt this way a lot.
"I've seen worse." He responded, shrugging. Hearing the proper, quick manner in which the girl spoke, Nathan had a good idea that she hadn't lived in Mississippi long. Add to that the fact that, though the day was warm, most people who had lived in the deep south for a while became immune to the humid summer heat and Nathan had grounds to believe that this girl was at least relatively new to the area. "I'm Nathan by the way, Nathan Carlisle." He added, giving a shy smile, "You wouldn't happen to be new here, would you?" He asked curiously.
It didn't take Addy long to figure out that this boy wasn't a stereotypical southerner. Not only had he initiated what appeared to be the beginnings of a civil conversation, but he didn't give off the condescending air that many people had the one time she'd visited her family that lived in Hawthorne several years earlier.
"I'm Addison Calhoun…but only my mother calls me Addison, most people just call me Addy." She informed Nathan with a smile. "And yes," she continued, "I am new here. I've only lived here for three days to be exact. My accent gave it away, didn't it?" She responded, laughing slightly. In the times she'd visited places anywhere, but especially in the South, her northern accent and refusal to adopt her parent's practices of commonly using words like "y'all" and "ain't" had always gotten her strange looks and comments.
"Only a little." Nathan admitted, shrugging.
"Yeah, well, I figured as much." Addy answered chuckling. "So, Nathan," she began a moment later, "what are you doing out here on a Saturday talking to a perfect stranger?" She asked. Nathan sighed and shook his head.
"I had sort of a fight with my brother and had to get out of the house and I come down here sometimes when I need to get away from my family, which is quite often I may add." He answered. It was sad how few the times were that he genuinely got along with his family but that was just sort of the way things had always been. "How about you? What are you doing out here all by your lonesome?" He asked.
"Well, we've been unpacking boxes and stuff for three days and I just had to get away and relax. Plus I'm trying to show my mother that just because we're new here it doesn't mean I can't handle myself." Addison explained, shrugging.
Nathan nodded and, before he was able to speak again, there was a sound of footsteps behind the two and an obviously male voice with the slow, Mississippi drawl common to the area spoke.
"Well, well, well, if it ain't Mr. Smarty Pants and the new colored in town."