92. New Home

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On a warm Sunday evening in July, Henry drank in the sight of his new home.

It was a light blue bungalow with freshly painted maroon shutters on either side of the two large rectangular windows. The neighborhood boasted a variety of modest homes along a paved street with broom-swept sidewalks, white picket fences, and thriving gardens. All owned by colored folks.

Henry's lawn was a different story. It looked like it hadn't been cut in a month. Clustered stalks of ragweed and dandelions towered over the shaggy overgrowth of wild grass.

Henry didn't mind this though. He would give that lawn a proper trimming with the push mower he'd been eyeing up at Conner's Hardware. He'd buy heaps of grass seeds and cow dung for fertilizer. On the weekends, he'd take a hoe to the earth, turning over the dirt before planting those seeds and watering the soil.

Henry would welcome the work too. He would take a sense of pride in it. Besides, the price of the house made the patchy lawn more than worth it.

When he and Sarah had decided to get married, he'd already saved enough of his salary for a small home and the shiny black Model T parked at the curb.

Albert had wanted to give him the car as a wedding gift, but Henry didn't want to accept that sort of charity. Not while he was earning a living. In the end, he paid a fair price of only $700 for the car.

Now here they were, carrying boxes into a home of their own.

The late-afternoon sun flickered in the westward sky. The evening loomed, and Henry was looking forward to the first night in his very own home with Sarah curled up beside him. He couldn't imagine anything more perfect.

Sarah hurried over from the car with a small brown box in her arms. She was wearing a casual green dress with pockets at waist level. "This is the last one! Oh, I'm so excited! We're about to get settled into our new house. Our very own home! Can you believe it Henry?"

Henry smiled at her. "Here. You give that box to me, and just wait here."

Sarah quirked an eyebrow at him. "May I ask, why?"

"You'll see," Henry said, a mischievous gleam in his expression.

"Okay," Sarah said, giggling.

She handed the box to Henry, and he darted into the house. From the metallic rattling inside, Henry thought he might be carrying eating utensils. He set the box down in the living room along with the other boxes.

Then Henry ran back outside. Charging up to Sarah, he scooped her up into his arms

Sarah squealed in delight. "Henry! What are you doing?"

"I'm about to carry my beautiful wife over the threshold."

Henry swept her across the grass, gazing down into her eyes. Once inside, Henry kicked the door shut and set Sarah down in the middle of the living room, surrounded by stacks of brown boxes. Minus the boxes, the room was just a large bare space with white walls, hardwood floors, and uncovered windows. Still, it felt like home.

Henry planted a series of soft kisses on Sarah's mouth. She eagerly returned the efforts. But when he pulled back, he noticed the tears spilling down over her cheeks.

"What is it?" Henry asked.

"I wish my mother and father could have been here to see us get married. To see us move into our new home and start our lives together."

Henry's heart plummeted. Sarah had never once talked about her parents. The one time he brought up the topic, she changed the subject right away. From that point on, he decided not to ask out of respect. He figured something terrible had happened, and she would tell him when she was ready.

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