He was average. An average, middle-aged man. But he wasn’t. There was nothing truly average about Charlie. She wasn’t sure what his life had become in the years since, or what had pulled him back here. Who came back to Blackwater? It was a town as murky and uninteresting and quietly sinister as its name. People ran from here. Not to here. Blackwater was not the pretty postcards of grazing thoroughbreds and white board fences and bluegrass its residents wanted people to see. No, it was once coal mines. The water literally ran black and opaque down the scarred rock faces of its mountains. Once upon a time. Back then it had, not so long ago.

The environmentalists had helped clean up the water and its image. In so doing, they’d shut down the mines. They killed the town to resurrect it. But Blackwater now had nothing to lay claim to, nothing to fall back on. Just dead mines and men with black lung too old and sick and ignorant to work anywhere else.

Charlie got out, though. His daddy worked up in those caves, survived two cave-ins to succumb to lung cancer a month before Charlie graduated.

~Stella (a working title)

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