Yup. Dad was Texan, born and raised. On mentioning her father, Janes eyes brightened. After the war, he put in to get stationed at Fort Sam Houston and the army gave him Fort Bliss. She laughed. But Dad always said anywhere in Texas was better than Louisiana, Florida, or the damned North, for Gods sake. She shook her head, then looked up. You aint got family in New York or Massachusetts or anything, right? Cant tell by accent these days. Have to excuse me. I had a bad run- in with a Jersey pizza baker. Left a sour impression.
No offense taken, said Reba.
She had a distant cousin who went to Syracuse University and ended up staying in New York for keeps. Her family couldnt imagine how anybody could stand the cold winters and conjectured that the bitter temperature imbued itself on the people, too. Reba had only visited the Northeast a handful of times and always in the summer. She was partial to warm regions. The people in them always appeared tanned and smiling happy.
Im from down south. Virginia. Richmond area, she said.
Whats a Ginia girl doing out here?
Lure of the Wild West. She shrugged. I came to write for Sun City magazine.
Well, shoot. They recruit that far? Jane fl ipped her cleaning rag over her shoulder.
Not exactly. I thought Id start here and eventually make my way to California L.A., Santa Barbara, San Francisco. It was a dream that still made her restless with hope. Reba shifted her weight in the chair. Two years later, Im still here. She cleared her throat. She was doing all the talking when what she needed was for Jane to start.
I understand, honey. Jane took a seat at the café table and set her lavender cleaner on the ground. This is a border town, for sure, a transient, crossover place, but some never get to crossing. Stuck in between where they were and where they were headed. And after a few years go by, nobody can recall their original destination anyhow. So here they stay.
Thats quotable. Reba tapped her pen. But youve lived here awhile, correct?
All my life. Born at Beaumont Hospital on Fort Bliss.
So where are you headed if youre already home?
Jane smiled. Just cause youre born in a place dont make it home. Sometimes I watch the trains go by and wish I could jump on. Watch the planes scratch the blue and wish I was inside. Moms always called me a daydreamer, a stargazer, a rambler whatever I am, I wished to God I wasnt. Dreaming doesnt do me a bit of good.
Excerpted from The Baker's Daughter by Sarah McCoy. Copyright © 2012 by Sarah McCoy. Excerpted by permission of Crown. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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No Man's Land
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Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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