Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Girls Who Would Be Birds, Part 1, Continued 4

This morning, I woke up in a fogspell.  The whole world was lost behind a veil.  It's an eerie place to revise stories dug up from the past.  But finally editing this manuscript is giving me so much joy.   Perhaps, after I finish, I can finally put Pit hole to rest.  The story continues after the night of the fire when Widow Ricketts wakes up to a surprise.  Hope you enjoy!
Widow Ricketts: Rain on Sunday
I can feel in my bones when I wake up that there is going to be rain on Sunday.  My joints ache as I rise and sit on the edge of my bed. It must be near noon by the way the light in glowing in bright through the windows.  I can’t remember the last time I slept this late.  Have I ever slept this late?  Certainly, never since I've moved to Pithole and taken up this unrelenting task of washing.  I don't dare look at the state of the shirts I'd set out late afternoon to dry and hadn't yet taken in before the fire.  They'll likely need wash again.  At least Diana is safe.  I wonder if Ben even noticed she was gone?  He is probably too busy picking up the pieces of his business to make sense of the fact that she is even gone yet.  The way that hotel blazed in the night!  My throat feels raw from inhaling all of the smoke. 

I take a bucket down from the wall and head out the front door to the well.  Light is streaming through the trees and I feel its pattern etched in warmth on my face.  When I approach the well, clip the bucket on the rope and throw the bucket into the inky dark, instead of hearing a splash as I normally would hear, I hear a dull muddy thud.  A waterless thud. 

Oh dear I think.  We’ve gone dry.

Must have been all of those buckets we took to try and put out the fire last night.  One of the fire lines went straight to this well and we were up half the night pulling water from it.  No wonder it's gone dry.  But what will that mean?  What will that do? How will I take in wash without water?  I suppose I could carry up water from Pithole creek, but that trek is at least a half mile.  I'm strong, but am I strong enough to carry all the water I would need to run a wash business? My mind is still tied up in the logic of how to survive and how to save my business when I walk back into the house and see Diana, peacefully asleep sitting up in my reading chair.  Face down on her lap is the very text I had been reading last night before the fire, the very text I'd been reading right for the last week as I tried to figure out a way to help get a few girls like Diana out. The book that had for so long given  George and I comfort as we read the interwoven tales.  It took years for me to be able to read the text without weeping.  At first, it was unbearable even to look at.  But now, when I open the book and hear not my own voice but his deep voice reading the words, I treasure it.  I consider it at gift that I can still remember the exact pitch after all of these years.

As I'm lost in thought, I hear a shuffle and look up to see Diana opening her eyes.  She's confused at first, I can see that clearly in the storm that crosses briefly across her face.  But, then, seeing me, she calms and I smile. 

"What a night?!"  I say and she smiles weakly back.  "I'm just about to boil up some coffee.  How would you like a cup?"  At this she gives an enthusiastic nod.  Still smiling, I turn on my heels and head to the kitchen to get the fire going.  I'm all the way in the kitchen before I remember the dry well.  How the heck am I going to make coffee without water?

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