Sonny was angry when he went to bed. He’d tried to hide it, tried to seem causal, but he was pretty certain Mae could see right through him. That woman. He loved her so much. She had a gift of discernment and not much escaped her notice. It was 2:30am and he laid in the dark still wide awake. There would be no sleep for him tonight. He knew it when he’d laid down, but he wanted Mae to feel safe so he did his best to stick to their routine. Finally, in the early hours of the morning, while the moonbeams cast long shadows on the wooden floor, he could stand it no longer. He quietly rolled out of bed, listening for any changes in Mae’s rhythmic breathing. When he was sure she wasn’t disturbed, he left the room and headed for the kitchen. He didn’t feel like coffee or food, he just wanted to read. He needed encouragement and assurance this was all going to be okay. He’d left his Bible on the table the night before, planning to read it when the sun came up the next morning. Such was his practice. Today, the morning came a lot sooner than expected. He sat at the old table that had been in the family for two generations and opened his weathered Bible. His knees creaked in the silence of the early hour. He’d had this Bible since he could remember, it was full of pen markings and dates marking answers to prayer. It was starting to fall apart and he’d had to duct tape it to keep it bound. But, it was his favorite and he’d never think of replacing it with a new one. He bowed his head and prayed asking God for wisdom and peace. Proverbs 3:5-6 came to mind and he turned the pages over until he read the words…
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; in all your ways know him, and he will make your path straight.”
It didn’t feel like the path was straight, it felt like a nightmare. But, if he could bring himself to rely on God and not try to understand all the “why’s,” they might just make it through to the other side of this. He’d trusted God with crops and prayed for friends and their families, but this was the first time something so difficult had happened to all of them. He would never have said they were bullet proof, but they had been pretty lucky over the years. Or blessed. Or maybe a bit of both. The early morning hours slipped away and before he knew it, Mae was walking into the kitchen in her blue cotton bath robe. “You want coffee?” She asked. It wasn’t unusual for Sonny to be up first so she never thought to question him. It was going to be a long day, Sonny reckoned, but he’d had long days before. He’d needed those quiet hours to calm his anxious heart. He would trust God with all of this, he’d remember who was in control. Later that day, as he drove his old pickup out to the fields, he was reminded again of God’s goodness and power. It was almost time to plant the corn and there would be another harvest this fall. Life would continue. Spring, Summer, and then Harvest, he’d lived his whole life around it. It was something sure in a world that wasn’t, the soil was faithful and the seasons were dependable. He was so thankful for the life God had given him. He didn’t think he could do anything else, farming was in his blood; and dirt was underneath his nails. “Help us to trust you, Lord.” He spoke as he got out of the truck and picked up a handful of brown soil. “You make the world go around, surely you can handle this situation.”
Vivian woke the next morning in a panic. There was nowhere in her life where people didn’t know her most private business. Her phone was full of unopened text messages and voicemails. It all felt like too much. She went about their morning routine in a fog, then dropped Timothy and Thatcher at school. When she arrived back at the empty house, she made her way to the bathroom to take a shower. It was the first time all morning she’d gotten a look at herself in the mirror. She was horrified. Her eyes were red and swollen from tears and lack of sleep; her nose was puffy and red on the end, it looked like she was wearing one of those Bozo the Clown noses. “Oh my goodness.” If it hadn’t been so pathetic, she might’ve laughed. But, instead, she stood and stared for the longest time. How had it come to this? Then, as it so often did lately, her mind took her back in time. Memories began to play across her imagination like an old film, back to the day Thomas proposed. They were young, no question, but she didn’t care. She’d met her soul mate and no one could stop her from taking his last name. Her parents had warned her he seemed self-absorbed and proud. But, for a reason she couldn’t explain, his pride made him more attractive. He’d told her they didn’t need to be married to run away together, but her upbringing wouldn’t allow her to live with a man without a ring on her finger. So, he’d gotten down on one knee and asked her. And, without hesitation, she’d said yes. It was so spontaneous, he hadn’t even bought an engagement ring; instead they’d taken some tassel from an ear of corn and tied it around her finger with a promise of something better to come. And he’d kept his promise. They’d gotten married at the court house and headed to Florida to a school where Thomas had been awarded a scholarship. For a small town girl who’d never been away from home, it was the adventure of a lifetime. Thomas went to school and Vivian worked any job she could find to buy groceries and pay the bills. It was for both of them, he would tell her when she felt discouraged with it all; their future was worth the sacrifices. It was a long, hard road, but they’d finally emerged with a law degree and a job offer in Palm Beach. They never left Palm Beach once they arrived, even though they’d lived in several different houses around town. But, the houses never seemed to be good enough, Thomas always wanted bigger and better and Vivian did what Thomas wanted. That’s how they ended up with their big fancy house in one of the most elite gated communities within walking distance of the beach. It had never once occurred to her Thomas was doing anything wrong. He worked long hours so she assumed he made good money. Although, she had to take his word for it since Thomas didn’t like her to talk about their finances. Why hadn’t that been a red flag, she wondered to herself? But, it just wasn’t. She trusted her husband. Now, she looked in the mirror at her red nose staring back at her and thought she must be the biggest fool to ever live.
Mae was out feeding the chickens when the idea came to her. There was a small house behind the main house where Sonny’s parents had lived until they passed away. Why couldn’t Vivian and the kids live there? It was paid for, so rent wouldn’t be necessary. That only left utilities. It could be a place for Vivian to escape the scrutiny of the city and find her way as a single mom. Mae figured she’d be single whether she divorced Thomas or not, because, if the charges were true, Thomas was going to jail. She made a plan to present her idea to Sonny at lunch. She was confident in what his answer would be, it would just be a matter of convincing Vivian. Her daughter was fiercely independent and the idea of moving home might sound unreasonable to her. The kids did have lifelong friends in Palm Beach, after all. But, it would keep them from being homeless until Vivian could decide exactly what to do; and that seemed like a good enough reason to, at least, present the idea. Mae hummed as she finished with the chickens and walked back to the house. She decided on ham sandwiches with the pickles she’d canned last summer for lunch. Maybe something good would come from this after all, she sure would love to have her grandkids close. I mean, what could be better than that?