Cereal No. 4

For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it— (Luke 14:28 NKJV)

Calculation

The mother noticed that her girl was gaining weight despite her birdlike eating habits. She also noticed that the box of saltines was missing from the pantry. She kept close account of her pantry. The evidence was adding up, but the mother didn’t want to believe the possible answer.

Should she confront her daughter, then she would have to disclose her knowledge to her husband. Maybe if she just waited, things would work themselves out. But, to be sure, something was amiss.

The girl was working out some of her own calculations. If she told her mother about her condition, then her father would be included in the discussion. If you could call it a discussion; he still regarded her as a nuisance to be avoided. The only time he paid any attention to her was when he was good and drunk.

Then he would get semi-interested. He would come into her room and watch her sleeping. She knew this because she wasn’t really sleeping; just pretending. She would hear him sigh, and sometimes she thought she heard him quietly sobbing. But that couldn’t be true, he could care less about her. Or so she thought.

Anyways, she couldn’t tell her mother. She would try to talk her out of keeping the baby. And she really didn’t believe her father would care one way or the other. She had a better plan. She would escape.

The railroad was south of their property. As kids, she and the neighbor boy, used to hike down through the woods and across the county line to flatten pennies on the track. They would carefully place a few pennies on the rail, and then wait. And wait. The train never did come while they were waiting.

They would get bored, and then go play hide and seek in the woods. The next day, they would hike back and the pennies were gone. They speculated that the pennies were stolen by Indians or the train was so fast that the pennies stuck to the wheels instead of the track. Either way, their penny flattening adventures were always a bust. But this time her adventure was going to be grand, she just knew it.

With a baby on the way, and a train to hop, she was going to the city. She would pack her knapsack with saltines and fill the old army canteen with water. Her mother kept some cash in an old tin can in the back of the pantry. She would just borrow it, and then someday pay her mother back.

She had heard of hobos traveling across the country to get work. Maybe some nice hobo would help her find her way. She figured she’d go east towards the Big Apple. If she couldn’t make it that far, there had to be a lesser city where she could start her new life.

She had a plan. She would leave Saturday night, after her parents returned from the tavern, and when the train most likely would be going through the woods.

But before she left, she had one more thing to do.

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