This is the fourth in the "Little Jo" series, repeated here by "popular demand."
Jo Ann really liked school in Mt. Vernon. It was a safe haven from the turmoil of her emotions, since she could get her mind, if but briefly, off the sadness she felt. And from the pressures her Grandmother put on her. “Granny” in her long black dress and black stockings, constantly harping on getting “saved,” dragging the child to church Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night, revival meetings that went on and on forever. Would she ever get away from it all?
But school was interesting. She enjoyed reading and most of the teachers were interesting. The other kids not so much, but that was okay. Jo Ann was now thirteen and in junior high. Her sister, Donna had married at fifteen and already had two kids. A sudden feeling of panic gripped the young girl’s heart. Nadine is sixteen and she is talking about marriage. Am I going to have to get married soon? And why would I want to? And who would marry a plain little knucklehead like me anyway? I don’t even have a boyfriend.
That evening, she talked with Nadine about the thoughts she had been having. “But Jo Ann,” Nadine told her, “you are beautiful. Why would you say such things about yourself?” These were indeed reassuring words, but not unlike what she had been told before. Why must I always need to be told over and over that I am pretty or smart? she asked herself. I wish I could really believe it.
The boy next door. It is a cliché, but that is exactly who many girls marry. And so it was with Jo Ann. Jep lived not literally next door, but a couple of blocks over. Close enough. On a March day in her eighteenth year she stood with Jep in the parlor of the minister’s home and with the preacher’s wife as a witness, committed her life to a young man. The prospects looked bright. Things would have to be better than this life she had lived to this point.
© 2008 David W. Lacy