The girl lay in the grass all alone. She looked into the sun, squinting her eyes so they appeared closed, but she could still be blinded by the shard of sun that broke through her lashes. The sun made her eyes tear, but her eyes had been teary so much that this was nothing new.

She had her first heartbreak. Her childhood love had married someone else just after his eighteenth birthday. She always thought they would have a happy ending, but clearly he was going in search of that without her.

It was silly to think of her life being over at eighteen. Who got married at eighteen, clearly it was silly to even be this broken up over it.

Which only brought on fresh tears. It did matter, she was unhappy. Whether or not it was a good idea, she was dying inside because she wouldn’t have her chance to fill that dream with him.

Inside the house, the women sat clucking around the table.

Belle sighed. “She thinks how she feels at eighteen doesn’t matter. How many of us were married by eighteen?” They all nodded in agreement.

Ellen said, “I was the youngest, I was fifteen.”

“That girl wouldn’t be allowed to drive a car for another year!” Leta said.

“Well, I never knew anything about any cars.” Ellen smiled.

Elizabeth nodded, “So different nowadays. So different.”

From the back room came a cough. Almost a wheeze. Even here, she wasn’t well. As she shuffled in she said, “I was twenty and aught when I was married.” Elizabeth nodded at her.

“So you were, Mother, so you were.” Others might have made a gentle tease about being practically an old maid at age 20, but Kesiah Applegate Hamilton was not one of those women. She was a simple minded woman, kind enough, but not particularly funny. She was less rigid than her daughter Elizabeth or her granddaughter Abby, but she was far from being lighthearted ever. To make a joke at her expense would be almost cruel because she wouldn’t know how to parry it back to you and the air would lay empty and awkward like an unreturned kiss or I love you.

Kesiah settled into her sturdy chair with the wide arms. She carefully placed her feet on the footstool, she was never tall in her youth, and as she aged she only grew smaller, she was well below five feet by this time.

Out in the grass lay the girl. Still staring at the sun, still feeling her heart breaking in her chest. Her life lay out before her like a gray wet page. Like smeared newsprint, wet, soggy and smeared. Like a newspaper chewed up by a dog. A rabid dog. A rabid, smelly dog. She luxuriated and stretched into her misery. No one had ever been as miserable as her. She thought of the clothes in her closet. Far too happy, she needed dark clothes. Perhaps a veil for her hair. She spent a long time in that grass planning her self imposed induction to the life of a solitary nun. She schemed how to begin acquiring a large army of cats to keep her company. Her salary would go to kitty litter and cat food. She needed no man to keep her warm, she would have her kitties to keep her company.

The door opened and a voice called to the girl from within. The girl rose and went inside. Her cat plan put on hold to follow her grandmother’s voice.