Cora went back to work part time at the market as her kids entered school. The addition of a sandwich counter attracted workers and teenagers alike. She was stimulated by the activity of her midday shift. The world had been changing while she’d been home raising babies. What used to be an ordinary market on the corner of the main road, branching off to the dirt road where she lived, had become a hang out for hungry kids and men waiting for snacks and lunches. The owners were happy to have her back. She was used to feeding a bunch of hungry people at once and wasn’t at all flustered by a line out the door at noon. Cora loved the money. She gave her paycheck to James but she squirreled her tips away for extra things for her family, small luxuries and surprises.
Sadie came home to visit every summer. She brought the world to Cora. They had long conversations about their lives. Sadie’s boyfriends came and went. None seemed just right for her. She’d long since found her own apartment and moved from her aunt’s home. She’d managed to build a career out of nothing at all. The ability to type 80 words per minute in Miss McCormick’s boring, typing class had served her well. Sadie loved Cora’s kids. She’d come careening down the road, a big billowing cloud of dust behind her, bouncing out of the drivers seat of the MGB she drove, calling “Where are my little brown bunnies? Where are you? Come see what Aunt Sadie has for you!” She’d hug each and every child, paying them special attention, as she rooted around in the back of the GT for just the right gift for her borrowed baby. Cora’s kids worshipped Sadie.
Hippies had migrated to the road Cora lived on. When the town was established in the early 1700s, Elias Thurston was one of the corporators. The Thurston family had gradually moved off, never selling the large tract of land that went miles into the woods. The hippie migration began around 1970. One day a man appeared in a Land Rover. He had long hair and a beard. It turned out he was a Thurston descendant. Cora’s father referred to him as Whiskerando Thurston. He built a homestead and bought some llamas. After Whiskerando arrived, the influx of back-to-the-landers continued until the road was spotted with new mailboxes and farms that were more like zoos for exotic animals than traditional farms. Whiskerando sold the family property to friends he’d met from all over the world. The road was like a commune. There were big parties in the summer; beat up Jeeps, Land Rovers, and the occasional misplaced Rolls Royce lined the side of the road. Cora watched the laughing, braless, women with their beautiful babies and handsome men, wondering what their lives must be like to make them so joyful.