The temperature and humidity were rising as she drove farther south and just outside of Montgomery she stopped for gas at a convenience store, filled her tank, and went inside for a cold drink. When she came back out, she paid no attention to the car parked at the pump behind her.
“West Virginia, almost heaven.”
She turned to look. A black man, about her age, wearing a tattered ball cap. He was smiling,
She gave him a friendly look and unlocked her car.
“Your license plate.” He pointed to the back end of her car. “I’m from there.”
She stopped. She couldn’t resist.
It was a West Virginia thing. If you’re from southern West Virginia, you’re identified with your county, not your town. Mingo County. Boone County. Lincoln County. McDowell was the poorest of the poor. She didn’t have to ask why he left. The decline of the coal industry affected everyone in southern West Virginia. As the jobs left, the drugs came in. Anybody with any hope for the future left. At least that’s the way she saw it.
“I’m from Charleston.”
copyright 2018, joseph e bird, from the novel, Heather Girl