Martha knelt, furiously scrubbing the front porch. According to her friends at The Heavenly Way Church, her husband Frank was at it again.
Frank’s latest infidelity had the ladies buzzing. They had no qualms about simultaneously expressing their dismay at Frank’s conduct and conscientiously keeping Martha informed of all the juicy details they’d heard about his latest affair. Martha pressed her thin lips together firmly. Frank was almost sixty years old. With the children gone, Martha had thought he’d stay home and pay more attention to her. She ridiculed herself for the thought. Frank had always had other ideas.
The sun felt hotter than usual on the hollow today and Martha heaved a sigh as she finished cleaning. She stood, lifting the old pail of dirty water in one hand and the scrub brush in the other. Looking down the road, she caught a glimpse of turquoise flashing in the sun. The bright color was on a bandanna worn around the neck of a young girl with flying blonde hair. She who couldn’t have been much more than twenty and wore cut-off shorts, sneakers, and a blouse, the ends of which she’d tied around her slim, firm waist. When the girl saw Martha, she helloed and waved, speeding her step a bit.
Reaching Martha’s house, she gasped, “Boy, am I glad to see you. I been walking the hollow for awhile now, and I didn’t see anyone or anywhere I could stop.”
“We’re pretty far away from things out here,” Martha said slowly.
“Well,” the girl said, “I was just wondering if I could trouble you for a drink of water. I am so thirsty.”
Martha hefted her bucket. Well, she thought, she’s sure got her nerve showing up here. Frank must not have told her where he lived.
Martha said aloud, “I got some lemonade I was just going to pour. You’re welcome to a glass, if you’d like.”
The girl climbed up the three steps to Martha’s porch. She stuck out her hand, saying, “Well, that’s real nice of you, I’m . . . .”
Martha didn’t put down her bucket to shake hands. “I know who you are.”