Ms. Moses puttered around the house until the sun was up. She didn’t sleep well these days and her shoulders slumped with the weight of it. She stopped and leaned on the broom handle to wipe her face with the hankie hanging loosely from her pocket. There was no task big or small that didn’t take her to a memory. These were difficult days. “Back to work,” she muttered to no one and began to hum, the broom swaying in rhythm. Old hymns were her favorite. She and her beloved sat by many an evening fire singing together. Neither could carry a tune in a bucket but Henry always reminded her that the Lord was more concerned with her heart than her ability. “Make a joyful noise,” he’d say and flash her the biggest smile. Her heart tendered at the thought of it. He’d been gone for months but the pain still felt fresh. She walked over to the mantle above the fireplace and stared at the picture, it was their wedding day. Such a fancy thing to have a picture, she thought. She wouldn’t give it up for all the gold in the world, but she’d give up all the gold in the world to relive that moment in time.
The rooster crowed interrupting her thoughts.
“I’m coming.” She walked to the door and slipped on her old work boots. They’d seen better days, the hole in the toe bearing witness. The chickens were putting up such a fuss this morning, maybe they were a little stir crazy too. Spring had come slow this year. “Gonna start tilling up the ground for the garden soon, little ones.” She talked as though they listened. “I’m gonna plant okra, squash, peas, corn and maybe some watermelon. Prayin’ for a good harvest so we’ll have plenty to get us through the winter.” She spoke as she threw seed down for breakfast. “Got any eggs for me this mornin’, girls? Lookin’ forward havin’ one with grits.” The thought of breakfast brought back more memories. She and Henry finishing chores and meeting in the house to talk of plans for the day. She’d pull out the black iron skillet her Momma passed down and fry bacon and eggs together. Nothing like a fried egg in bacon grease; her mouth watered thinking about it. Her eyes watered thinking about him.
“Ah, well, this is the day the Lord made, I’m gonna do my best to remember that.”
She spoke walking back to the cabin with a basket of eggs on her arm.
After breakfast, Ms. Moses wrapped up the crochet pieces she’d made by firelight and tied the package with twine. It was time to make a trip into town and drop them at the mercantile. Folks loved her work and it was an honest living. She’d pick up some feed for the chickens and her old mare and some wire to fix the hole in the chicken coop. She thought she might allow herself a piece of candy if the mood struck her just right. It was a beautiful day and even though her heart felt as heavy as her cast iron skillet, she couldn’t help but smile at the new life springing up all around her.
Henry loved spring.
“Seeds.” She said to the old mare as she put on the harness. “I’m gonna get seeds for the garden today.” The horse whinnied in response and Ms. Moses patted her on the backside. She was so glad to get out of her stall she didn’t even mind when Ms. Moses backed her up and secured her to the small wagon.
Spring was what they all needed.
Sadie fed her chickens quickly and headed to the barn to milk Lucille. She was excited because spring was fully blooming and she could spend time with the animals without her cumbersome shawl. She made eggs for breakfast and quickly changed clothes so she could ride with Abe into town. It wasn’t much of a town compared to where they’d come from, but it did have a mercantile and a post office, and she planned to visit both. This was their once a week visit to the small settlement, well, except for Sunday. But she didn’t count that day because it was for church and not running errands. She and Abe had established a schedule that seemed to work well. One day a week they spent visiting the people in the surrounding community and another day she went to mail letters and drop off eggs to sell at the mercantile. She’d saved some money from the sale of her eggs and today she planned to buy seeds to start her very first garden. She chattered of anything and nothing as she put on her simple blue skirt and white collared shirt buttoned all the way to the top. She would plant watermelons, squash, okra, peas and collard greens. The thought of anything but eggs made her giddy. She was quick to thank the Lord for all the eggs and occasional bacon or peas her husband brought home, she didn’t want to have an ungrateful heart. But, something different really did sound delightful.
The ride in was pleasant. The windows were rolled down and her hair whipped around her face and landed in her mouth. She didn’t care, this was a special day and no amount of windblown hair could dampen her mood. The roads were dusty but the sky was blue. She and Abe sang hymns at the tops of their lungs the entire way. When the blue Chevrolet rolled into town Abe parked it in front of a short line of buildings that made up nearly the entirety of Summerville. Sadie looked in the mirror mounted on the car door then licked her fingers to flatten her hair. She brought her blue ribbon and tied it around her pony tail, then she opened the door and stepped out onto the narrow sidewalk. It stretched the length of the lined up buildings. “I’m going to start at the Post Office,” she told Abe who stood on the other side of the car. He nodded and headed toward the small church building.
She loved the little church building. She sat on the front row each week and thanked the Lord for this mission. She also thanked the Lord for Mrs. Winnie who plucked out the songs on the piano. She chastened herself for not taking piano lessons more seriously as a little girl. She figured what she couldn’t give musically she could with hard work and a smile, so that’s what she did. Once she finished her errands she’d head to the church and polish the pews, line up the hymnals and pick up any clutter.
She prayed for the services and the people while she worked.
She entered the Post Office and laid the letters on the counter; her mother would be so happy to hear from her. And then she headed for the mercantile. Ms. Moses had just finished her purchase and was headed to the door when she barreled straight into a blue skirt. She was looking down so not to make eye contact with anyone, she still wasn’t ready for any real human interaction since the loss of her beloved. It took all her energy to face each day on her own much less try and make small talk with others. No, it was still too much. So, she’d enter the store, lay the package tied in twine quietly on the counter and head to the back to pick up what she needed.
No need for pointless chatter.
“Thank you, Mrs. Moses,” The clerk would always say and she’d wave him off. Once she’d gathered her supplies the clerk would put them on her running tab. She’d load them in the small wagon and head home. Then she’d unburden the old mare of her load and give her a quick brushing for her effort. She’d close up the stall and head inside to start supper. She just didn’t have the heart to do anything more.
This is how her trips to town always went.
Well, since Henry died.
But, today was different.
She ran straight into the blue skirt right before she reached the door. She looked up and those blue eyes pierced her soul. She’d been feeling a bit convicted since she held the gun to this pretty little blond haired girl. Sadie stood stunned; it was her! The lady from the woods. It had been weeks since she wandered out to her cabin. Sadie hadn’t stopped praying for her; every day she’d ask the Lord to watch over her, and she hoped their paths would cross again. And now, completely unexpected and out of the blue, the Lord had answered her prayer.