Writing Prompt Searching for a new town, they asked all the right questions...Forgot one.
If ever a child has been planned, Daphne was. Her parents, Curtis and Janie, made all the right choices. They completed their six year stent with the Coast Guard and their education at the University of North Carolina in Charlotte, compliments of the GI Bill. When it was time to send out resumes, one priority was above all others. Where should they raise their family?
The rural mountains of Western North Carolina seemed like the perfect place. The population was miniscule when compared to the thriving metropolis of Charlotte. No more traffic jams, bustling city streets, blaring sirens or crowded shopping malls.
The crime rate was far more preferable. The realtor said that some folks left their doors unlocked at night. The community was described as poor, but she proudly announced that they were the working poor. Curtis and Janie liked the sound of that. It reminded them of San Augustine, Texas, the community where their parents were raised.
They would miss Charlotte's cultural opportunities. They were trading entertainment for recreation. Instead of visiting museum, and attending concerts they'd go on hikes and picnics. Cheaper was better because salaries were definitely lower in the mountains.
Curtis, a forestry major thought a suit and tie was the equivalent of a straight jacket. He accepted a position with the Forest Service. He was to provide the care and upkeep of the Linville Falls region of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Janie, a business major, was hired by the Apple Orchard as a grant writer and fundraiser.
As planned Janie would work part-time. At thirty she was anxious to become a mother. She became an expert on nutrition and made certain that their daily meals contained just the right amount of calories and nutrients. With her degree behind her, exercise was no longer on the back burner. Janie walked two miles every morning. If a healthy weight decreased her chances of prenatal complications she considered it a small price to pay.
Janie surprised the local family practice physician. She presented for care before conception. She wanted to do everything within her power to make their baby's birth as healthy as possible.
With a little help from their parents, they signed a contract on a starter home, a two bedroom townhouse in the Grassy Creek community. She and Curtis had agreed on a gender-neutral, Dr. Seuss theme. Janie had to use great restraint not to be consumed by her daily internet shopping. She'd found everything: a Fox in Socks wall hanging, a Cat in the Hat shower curtain, Horton Hears a Who bookends and a Yertle the Turtle clock. The nursery was beginning to look like a Theodor Seuss Geisel museum.
Everything was going as planned. Janie was pregnant. She proudly told the nurse "yes" when quizzed about frequency of urination, tender breasts and increased fatigue. She wasn't quite as exuberant about the morning sickness, but Zofran, the anti-nausea medicine, was helping.
They'd broken the news to the prospective grandmother's on Mother's day. They could expect their baby around December 15th. A new house and a new baby for Christmas. Could life get any sweeter?
Janie reached her eighteenth week of pregnancy and received her long awaited ultrasound. The technician informed them that their first born was a girl. They'd call her, Daphne, after Janie's grandmother, the woman who had been the spiritual matriarch of their family. Everyone in her family had toed the line and kept the faith because no one wanted to disappoint Grandma Daphne.
While dining at the local country club, Curtis asked Janie if she'd noticed anything usual about their new community Janie replied, "You mean other than the lack of traffic, absence of retail, and non existent movie theater?" Curtis replied, "Yes." "What do we possess that seems to be lacking in the rest of the local population?" Janie replied, "What? Tell me." Curtis replied, "Pigment." Janie replied, "Excuse me?" " Seriously, Janie, haven't you noticed that we are the only people of color in Spruce Pine?" Have you noticed one other African American couple in our neighborhood, or in your trips to the grocery store?
Janie had to agree. How had she missed that? Maybe because she'd grown up in a military family, transferring to bases all around the world. She'd become desensitized to segregation. If the U.S. Army offered anything it was cultural diversity and racial integration. To her the world was a melting pot. Janie was a whole lot more concerned about the contents of a person's heart. Color was incidental.
In her haste to settle down, find a job and raise a family, they'd failed to notice that culture diversity was nonexistent in their mountain haven. Their daughters exploration would include the blue haze of the Great Smoky Mountains and the dazzling greens along the Blue Ridge parkway. She would see fields of white trillium and forests of pink mountain laurel. She'd encounter black bears, white tailed deer and gray possums. She might even see a red and orange salamander, but another black family was not to be found. Would it matter? Would their baby girl adjust to this monochrome community they had so carefully hand-picked for her, or would she feel like an alien as the only African American child in town?