AN: Guess who's posting the Isaac origin story that no one asked for??
This idea came to my cousin and I wayy back in 2016 or so, but me, being the stellar writer that I am, left it sitting in my WIP for two years. I worked on it here and there but never did anything with it. A month or so ago, though, my cousin and I met to go over this and another CotC fic and I feel like this is finally ready to be seen. The first chapter, anyway!
I can't promise any kind of regular update schedule, but if you like the first chapter of this please let me know, with kudos, a bookmark, or comment! Or even tell me if you don't; all feedback is welcome. :)
July 2nd, 1948
The morning sun begins to peak over the top of the cornfields, casting long shadows across the road cutting between them. The west is still a deep purple, not yet lit by the light of the sun. It’s 6:00 am, just minutes after sunrise, and despite the early hour there is the growl of a car’s engine approaching from up the road.
Headlights peak over the top of a hill and the car slows to a stop just out of sight of a gas station. A young woman quickly gets out of the vehicle, holding something tightly against her chest. After a moment’s hesitation, she gently lays down the bundle next to the rows of corn before turning and fleeing back into the car. The car’s engine growls again as she punches the gas, speeding off into the lifting darkness.
A few minutes after the car’s departure, the morning silence is once again broken by the sound of a screen door slamming.
A dog trots around the corner, ears perked as if searching for the missing car. He instead comes across the blanket-wrapped bundle and lowers his head to sniff it. As if it bit him, the dog jerks back from the bundle, and turns his head towards the gas station, letting out a series of loud barks.
Another slam of the screen door is accompanied by shuffling footsteps and quiet grumbling. A few moments later, a man with silver hair rounds the corner. He stares down at the dog with weary affection.
“What have you found this time, Sarge? Better not be more roadkill.”
He crouches down next to the blanket and pulls back one of the corners, jerking back at the sight just as Sarge had done.
“Well, I’ll be damned.”
The ride into town is a short one, as he only lives 2 miles away from it, but he can’t help feeling anxious the whole way over. He keeps one eye on the bundle in the seat next to him, for fear it will somehow shatter into little pieces if he hits the brakes too hard.
Austin is relieved to see the town come into sight without incident, and he goes about navigating the dusty streets towards the only church in town. It’s a Sunday, and he hopes he’ll find the pastor around the place somewhere. Tom Bailey was a smart man, and could hopefully help him with his problem.
Even on the drive to the church, he’s aware of the stares. He isn’t a common site in town outside of the one day a week he comes in to do shopping and help people fix what needs fixing, and the baby on the seat next to him doesn’t help the staring. Everyone knew everybody in a little town like Gatlin, and therefore everyone knew he wasn’t married anymore. Carolyn had died 12 years back, and they had never had children. So, in their eyes, he had no business carrying around any sort of child, nevermind a baby.
But he ignores the stares and pulls into the tiny parking lot next to the church. It’s empty, even on a Sunday, since most people walk to church. You could drive through Gatlin in 5 minutes time any direction, so walking anyplace in it hardly takes any time at all. Less than half the people own cars, anyways.
Austin steps out of the car and is relieved to see Pastor Tom just leaving the church, and catches his attention with a wave.
The pastor makes his way over with a friendly, if curious, smile.
“I’m sorry to say you just missed the service, Mr. Bunker.”
Austin shuffles his feet and coughs a bit awkardly.
“Eh, that was more Carolyn’s thing than mine. Not why I’m here, anyway - I’m lookin’ for advice, maybe a little help.”
He goes around to the passenger side of his car and opens the door, showing the pastor the baby.
“Sargent found him just ‘round the corner from my station. I can’t say I know what to do with him.”
Pastor Tom gently picks up the baby, and pulls the yellow blanket back to see the baby’s face more clearly.
The baby blinks at them with wide blue eyes, giving a quiet gurgle.
“You didn’t see anyone dropping him off? Or hear anything?”
“If anyone did, I didn’t hear it. I sleep like a rock though, so that’s no surprise.” He’s silent for a moment before a thought comes to him. “I did find this wrapped in the blanket with ‘im though.”
He hands the pastor the paper. It was a simple, white page, bearing only a single word: ‘Isaac’. The name was written in graceful, curving letters.
Pastor Tom frowns, flipping the note forward and back.
“The poor child must be an orphan, abandoned by his parents who couldn’t care for him.”
Austin’s words are quiet, and for a few moments the two are silent.
“The sudden influx of children following the war hasn’t been easy on anyone. Housing and food are in short supply. Even in Gatlin, we’re feeling the strain.”
“If they don’t want kids they shouldn’t mess around,” Austin grunts, brow furrowed.
Pastor Tom shakes his head.
“Humans are fallible, Mr. Bunker, that much is true. It’s merely a pity the children are the ones to suffer for it.”
Austin nods in reply, but his eyes widen in alarm when Pastor Tom extends the baby to him.
“What are ya givin’ ‘im to me for? I don’t know nuthin’ about raisin’ kids!”
Pastor Tom frowns thoughtfully.
“I had thought you might take him in since you were the one to find him...but you’re right, it was rude of me to assume you’d have the time or funds to care for a baby. I apologize. I’ll hold a town meeting tomorrow, letting everyone know about the child and see who can take him in.”
Austin nods, a relieved look on his face.
“Yeah, you do that.”
They exchange goodbyes, with Pastor Tom offering to look after the child for the night, and Austin is on his way back home again.
And though he shouldn’t give Isaac any more thought - someone else with kids will take him - he still finds himself sending out a prayer to whoever is out there that Isaac would find someone good to raise him.