James leads his sister from the driveway and they begin walking down Mabeline to "Mabeline Grocier", the croner store that sits where Mabeline merges onto the paved Mainstreet. They pass the mailbox without giving it a moment's thought. It is a simple tin mailbox mounted on the end of a post. No red flag, no numbers, just a gray tin box on a post. The old man at the post office knows their address, and where they live.
Miranda walks beside james once they get on the narrow dirt road. She kicks the big rocks with her white shoes. She decided to wear one of her least favorite dresses today, but her logic was consistent with what had been planned for the evening to come.
James was working Luke at his Uncle's stables. They shoveled horse manure, and gave them good water and fresh food. His boots still have a piece of hay, and some mud. He began to collect his thoughts before explaining his idea to Miranda.
"So, when we get to the store, I'll grab a bottle of kerosene, book of matches and a hatchet." James slides both hands into his pockets.
James continues, "We can get logs from behind the house, and twigs off the trees," he looks along the edges of the roads, "and the dried up pine needles can be kindlin'."
Miranda shakes her head, "That sounds good," she look ahead at the small trail that leads to the pond, "should we really have it out at the pond?"
James recalls the night he felt someone walking behind him, and how he did NOT feel alone despite not seeing anyone. He looks ahead at the small trail that leads to the pond, "You reckon we should really have it at the pond?"
"Why?" Miranda smiles, "You scared a'that ole house cross the way?"
"No," He glares at her, "I aint scared a'no house."
Miranda looks away and grins, "So you aint scared to get in there later tonight?"
James realizes what he has said, and tries to keep a straight face. The thought of facing that fear begins to bother him as they pass the lake, and get on the sidewalk. After climbing three or four steps, the two cross the porch and siwng open the screen door to feel the rusty old fan in the corner.
"Afternoon, Ms. Janet!" Miranda approaches the counter and starts small talk with Ms. Janet, the store owner.
Ms. Janet is a porty lady who braids her hair in a pony tail nearly every day. Some people think she is just some odd, middle-aged lady who sweats more than anyone else. She does sweat pretty heavy in the sun, but she owns a horse and a pony out on the other side of town, and believe it or not, she rides them. On top of that, they don't complain too much because she isn't too big, and isn't very tall either. Ms. Janet leans over the counter with her breasts and elbows holding up her smooth face, and childish smile as Miranda tries to convince her to bring her pony over sometime.
James meanders to the back to find a bottle of kerosene and a hatchet. He leans forward and picks up a dusty glass bottle of kerosene. The cork stopper was nearly fully pushed in, but James knew he could pluck it out. Just near the back door, he picks up a small hatchet.
"Son, aint yo Ma gotta hatchet sittin outside?" Ms. Janet asks, convinced they do.
"That's right!" Miranda chimes in, wondering how she knew.
"Any family livin' in the country should." Ms. Janet looks to Miranda, drawing out that 'shouuuld' with her thick southern accent.
James drops the hatchet and goes to the counter with the kerosene and picks up a book of matches from in front of her register.
"Is that all, James?" She smiles and adds in her head the 50 cent bottle of kerosene and the 10 cent book of matches.
"Yes ma'am." He sets the glass bottle on the counter, and Miranda backs up a step.
"It'll be sixty cents," Ms. Janet opens the register, "and don't be burnin' down no trees, you two!" She laughs, and Miranda giggles.
James and his sister walk out and see Chealse's truck sitting on the side of the street.
"Hop in you two!" Chealse smiles and waves them to get.
Miranda shoves James out of the way, "Window!" she claims.
"Oh, come on!" He moans and crawls in next to Chealse.
"What's up good lookin'?" She uses a deep, creepy voice as her arm creeps around his shoulders.
The two girls laugh, and James pulls her arm from behind him.