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The Cottage (standard:drama, 1493 words)
Author: Maureen StirsmanAdded: Oct 30 2002Views/Reads: 4169/2151Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
Raymond Carter lives alone in a cottage across from the elementary school. Mrs. Clark delivers a red envelope to his door, while the fifth grade students watch excitedly.

The Cottage 

Raymond Carter lived in a row house.  He and Cecile bought the cottage
when their parsonage burned down in 1972.  The congregation wanted to 
build another home for the pastor, but it was a time when the treasury 
was down and the insurance money could go for what Brother Carter 
considered better use. 

The cottage was built after the war, the big WWII, when the soldiers
came home and housing was scare.  Raymond was born in 1914 and next in 
line for the draft when the end of the war came.  Two of his brothers 
were ‘Tuskegee Airmen'.  Ray was married with six sons and a minister 
of the Gospel.  He would have been proud to serve as Chaplin, but the 
surrender was signed before his name was called.  Cecile prayed every 
day for the servicemen from their congregation and family, and that Ray 
wouldn't have to go.  The day the news came that the war was over she 
ran to the church building and spent the next forty-five minutes 
loudly, as was her custom, praising God. 

‘But that was a long time ago,' thought Ray, for Cecile had gone to
glory six years before, at the age of 80.  Ray knew where she was, 
never doubted for a minute, but still he was lonely.  Two of his sons, 
Ron and Jerome, were killed in Viet Nam.  It didn't make sense, but 
there it was.  Elmer, Will and Abe lived in far-flung states.  Only the 
youngest, Jonah, was still in Virginia.  Ray loved seeing the children 
and grandchildren, but that just didn't seem often enough. 

Brother Carter finally had retired, but that didn't mean he wasn't in
church every time the door was open.  He had always been careful not to 
take over for the pastor, this nice young man with the sweet wife, 
Sharice.  She invited Brother Carter to Sunday dinners at least once a 
month.  This was a special time for Ray, reading to the minister's 
little ones, while Sharice prepared the noon meal.  After dinner he 
would sit with the pastor, Ambrose Washington, and talk about the week. 
 Ray knew it was a special time for the younger man as well as for 
himself.  Ambrose was wise enough to listen to the guidance and wisdom 
of the older gentleman. 

During the week Ray kept his little house clean, as well as he could. 
Like many of its neighbors the cottage needed repairs; hot water 
heater, roof, paint, that sort of thing.  Ray did his best with the 
house, but he never let the yard go.  His pride was the lawn, carefully 
manicured—and the flowers, planted by season, color and size.  He 
weeded, trimmed, mowed and enjoyed his yard.  Behind the house he 
nurtured a dozen tomato plants, some onions and green peppers. 

The beauty of the neighborhood, as Ray saw it, was the big, brick, grade
school across the street.  He enjoyed watching the little ones running 
in the play-yard and after school, the young parents coming to get them 
with kisses and hugs.  He loved hearing the sounds of children. 

Next door to him for 16 years had lived a woman who no one knew much. 
She would speak to Ray if he was outside when she went to the mailbox.  
That was about it.  It was thought that she lived alone.  She drove an 
old black car and shopped for groceries every Thursday morning.  Other 
than that she was a mystery to the neighbors. 

Across the street, Mrs. Sandra Clark's computer desk faced the street
and the row of cottages.  She was the fifth grade teacher.  As she 
worked, from time to time she would glance out the window.  Sometimes 
she saw an elderly lady park a black car and carry in groceries.  Some 
days she saw her getting the mail. 

One sunny day in the spring Mrs. Clark saw Raymond Carter digging up the
ground and scattering seeds into the bare earth.  The next time she saw 
him, he was wearing an old, big-brimmed, felt hat and loose brown pants 
with suspenders over a denim shirt.  He was working on the flowers and 

Mrs. Clark began to look for the woman and for Ray.  She noticed that
the lady never looked up, but went quickly back into her house.  Ray 
trimmed his lawn, watered his flowers and one day painted the shutters 
a pale blue. 

Whenever Sandra Clark sat down at the computer desk she would look to

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