The dust stained the sidewalks and gathered in the interstices of a high iron security perimeter that enclosed the project’s hundred and fifty modest houses.This forbidding fence, and the fact that most of the adults inside it were female, sometimes prompted unkind comparisons with the old maximum-security women’s prison five minutes up the road.For the past few years, the state of Oklahoma has been converting this premise into policy.
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She was hungry, and hoped that marriage class would come with free lunch.
In any event, it would give her respite from her unit at Sooner Haven, which, despite her liberal use of paper doilies, ceramic angels, and lavender-scented candles, was no longer a pleasant place to spend a day.
“Car’s raggedy, but it’ll get us from pillar to post,” Corean said when Kim climbed in.
At Holy Temple Baptist Church, two miles down the road, the state of Oklahoma was offering the residents of Sooner Haven three days of instruction on how to get and stay married.
For several years, she’d been trying to do the precise opposite of what people around her had done, in the hope of eventually attaining what she termed “a healthy, wealthy, normal-lady life.” Marriage, like staying out of jail, struck her as a vital part of normal-lady living.
The man she’d chosen (although he had yet to be informed of his selection) was a tall, soft-spoken construction worker named Derrick, whom she had first spoken to at the International House of Pancakes.
He was a graduate of a two-year college and had a one-year-old son “he actually does for.” And, unlike her previous boyfriend, he didn’t use or sell drugs.
Kim keeps the things that matter to her next to her mattress, in a cardboard box stamped “Fragile—Eggs.” In addition to a handmade card that her father sent from prison on her eighteenth birthday, and a tangle of blond hair extensions that her mother had mailed when Kim turned twenty-two, the box held several poems that Kim had written about the meagreness of what people around her termed love.
She had recently fallen, as she put it, “heart over heels” in love.