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from The Kiss by Shirley Holder Platt

Copyright © 2020–2021 Shirley Holder Platt

Old Durham Road in the 1950s

Sarah grew up on Durham Road. It was an urban experiment sandwiched between two expansive strawberry fields. Old Man Mueller had used some of his wealth to build Durham Road and named it after his favorite tobacco. The single block housed twenty-four kids, thirty-nine adults and included twenty houses, with twenty trees (one planted in the middle of each front yard,) and one drainage culvert. Sarah’s yard had the dubious honor of hosting the culvert, which meant that the torrential rain waters washed toward her house during storm season. When she was a little girl, she thought she lived on a lake.

Her father, who could build anything out of nothing but castoffs, made Sarah a pair of stilts. She walked across the flooded street to her friend Maria’s house many times without getting wet. Maria never got the hang of the stilts, however, and always ended up soaked in the murky waters. This always brought loud haranguing noises from Maria’s mom. Mrs. Scarlotti would stand on the front porch with her hands cupped around her mouth. She would shout Italian expletives all the way across the street to her drenched child. Sarah couldn’t understand the words, but she always knew when to pick up her stilts and walk home.

Sarah and Maria were the same age, but they didn’t go to the same school. Maria donned a uniform each morning and was driven to the Catholic school miles away. The Scarlottis were the only Catholics on the block. Sarah was what everyone else called a holy roller. She walked to the pub...

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