“Grandmother,” she began, waiting for Elizabeth to shift her eyes to her, permitting her to continue, “May I look at your Bible?” Elizabeth carefully pushed the book toward Leta’s seat at the table.
“Careful you make no messes of it. Wipe that jam off your hands first.” Leta began to argue that her hands were clean, and at Abby’s soft cough, remembered to let it go.
She wiped her hands and began to gently turn the pages until she came to the part with the history of the family written in it.
Abigail Martha Elizabeth born January 11, 1840 in Scott Co, Ind
married John Henry, March 11, 1856 in Pike Co, Ills
William A. born September 11, 1857 died November 21, 1860 *1
Rebecca Abigail born December 11, 1859 died December 25, 1869 *2
Sarah Abigail born January 1, 1862 died February 2, 1898 *3
Lydia Abigail born March 3, 1864
Thursa Abigail born April 16, 1866
Marion Grant born February 3, 1868
Mary Abigail born June 4, 1871
Edith Abigail born July 5, 1878 died August 6, 1881
Leta counted. Eight Children. Four of those children had died before Elizabeth. To place the body of even one child in the ground must be unimaginably painful. By four children was it worse with each one or did you just become numb? How much pain could one heart take before breaking into pieces. Leta stole a glance at her grandmother. She didn’t want to ask any questions this morning. She didn’t want to know anything more. No more pain on this bright morning. She stepped to the doorway of the house. For a moment she longed to walk out into the sunshine in the front of the house, to walk out and join the little girl making the mess of the mud. But to do so would only cause the girl to have some vague shiver of awareness that she wasn’t ready for. It would steal away a part of the beauty that she was longing to be near. Part of that idyllic childishness that was so sweet and so fleeting.
She stood on the threshhold and watched as the girl now stretched her fingers wide on either side of her body and began to spin in circles. She started slowly, swinging her head back to look up at the blue sky. To focus on a cloud and perhaps see a shape in the white wispiness above. She spun faster until her hair flew out and into her face, she swiped a hand up her face to move the strands away from her mouth and once more spun in that childish cross, like a living breathing top.
She stopped but continued to sway. She sat on the concrete step and sniffed at her mud pie. She picked up two of the glass jars and carried them into the house. When she stepped back outside she looked at the weathered old house where Leta stood. Again for just a moment, Leta thought the girl could see her, but knew that wasn’t true. The girl’s life had been too simple, to easy, up to this point, for her to even be aware of the women in the boards so close but so far away.
Leta turned from the sun and looked at her mother and grandmother at the table. She looked to the girl outside and tried to picture the two women seated so carefully at the table spinning as the girl had done. She tried to remember herself being so carefree and had difficulty picturing even that. It seemed she had been an old woman forever. Which was a falsehood. She had no lived to truly be an old woman, only a woman, and not always a good one. She wondered what kind of woman the girl would grow to become. She knew that she would indeed grow to be a woman, if she wasn’t meant to , then Leta and her mothers would not be sitting vigil. Would not be here to watch her grow and help provide hopefully wise counsel through the veil of dreams and seeming coincidences.