22 december 1921
Joanna was sitting by the fire knitting in her house just outside of Milton, Kentucky, when Jeremiah finally burst through the door. His arm was slung around Orville's shoulder and they were both laughing as Orville was trying to tell a story that quickly tapered off when he saw Joanna very calmly but decisively set her needles down and turn to glare at them.
"Ma'am," he said, clearing his throat and removing his hat. Jeremiah groaned and stood up straight next to him. "Mighty sorry 'bout it bein so late an'all, didn't mean to disturb ya."
"You're quite alright, Orville. But if you wanna stay that way you best get home and leave my boy to set down right here for a talk." Orville nodded, then gave Jeremiah an apologetic look before slipping out into the night. Jeremiah made his way into the living room and sat down on the other chair facing the stone fireplace.
"It was harmless, Ma. We was just out-"
"Ain't worried about tonight, boy. You know damned well I don't mind Orville. It's about somethin happened at the railroad yesterday." Jeremiah sunk slightly further into his chair and fixed his eyes on the fire. Joanna watched him for a moment, then sighed. "You remember why we gotta keep moving so much, right?"
"I could control my power better if you let me use it!" he said, sitting bolt upright.
"Oh not this again! You know full well I let you use it just fine, just-"
"'Not to get my own way,' I know, Ma. But what was I gonna do? They already been itchin to get rid of me over my skin, if that tank fell over I'd been out a job and probably worse, and where'd we be then?"
"We got by just fine before the Pennsylvania Railroad came to town, we could get by again." She leaned over and put the knitting aside.
"Oh, what, moving again? I don't even know what business you had hearin about it while you was down at the river all day anyway."
"It was my anniversary, and I spent it with as much of my husband as I could! And if you don't want me hearing about your business you need to stop makin it so loud!"
"Your husband, listen to yourself! He's gone! He ain't comin back, why we gotta keep waitin for him?"
"I swore to God, Jeremiah, to be his til one of us dies, and ain't neither of us dead!" He stood and threw his hat at the wall.
"He may as well be! What good's a husband can't keep his family fed, anyway?!" He stormed out of the room as Joanna tried to call him back. Once it was clear he wasn't returning, she sat and watched the fire for a few minutes before rising, putting on her coat and shoes, and walking down to the river.
"Oh Abe," she said, sitting down on the beach. "Please, wherever you are, please come help me with this." It was two hours later when Jeremiah wandered down to the river's edge to find his mother asleep.
"See what you've done now," he muttered at the water. He carried her inside, covered her up by the fire, and went to bed.