Soldier Mine (Chapter Four: Claudia, page 1 of 6)


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At around eight, after my shift, Todd and I arrive home to the apartment I'm renting near the edge of town. Our belongings are meager. We usually only take what we can carry. The Goodwill store in town is well stocked, so every payday, I go down to buy something else. We have a sofa, an old television on a TV stand, small dining room table with two chairs, mismatched lamps, and a kitty condo for the cat. Each of us has a twin bed and dresser and a few other odds and ends. The apartment came with major kitchen appliances, and the building has a common laundry area in the basement.

We have everything we need and more. The apartment is cozy and well lit and on the third floor overlooking a large courtyard with huge maple trees in the last stages of shedding their purple leaves.

"You want your second dinner?" I ask Todd. In his current stage of growth, he eats twice as much as I do.

"Soup." He crosses to his room and slings his backpack inside before going to see the cat like he does every day. "Hi, Snickers."

The diner is generous - a real godsend. I take home a meal every night and eat two free meals a day on my ten-hour shifts. It cuts our expenses down, and I'm an expert at stretching my dollars at the grocery store. I make a huge pot of chili or stew every weekend, so Todd has something to snack on in the evenings.

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