What could be

ready

Come and live with me under the big sky, said Jeremiah, and I believed him. He had a comfortable grin on his face, his dark blonde hair gusted by a breeze. His hands were stuffed in his pockets, and there was a clean handkerchief in his shirt pocket. We stood outside my mother’s home, a safe distance from her intrusive curiosity. He kneeled onto the soft dirt of the September garden, and pulled a pretty blue box out of one pocket. He handed it to me without a word. I knew what was in that box, and an age passed through my mind. A day, a year, a lifetime with this man with the gentle, shy smile and unrefined hands, and sweat around his collar. There would be children and laughter and heartbreak (I was not a fool), and hard weather and sunshine and well-fed fireplaces in the winter and cooling rains in summer. I would tease him when his hair became thinner, and he would tease me when my belly rose with child. I would teach him rough poetry, and he would teach me the pliancy of soil and the tender supplication of rain. We would laugh, we would cry, we would grieve, and then we would continue each day with little regard to past mistakes. He loved me – wasn’t this the final proof? – and I loved him because of it, and we would swim in a big warm bed and drink coffee in the morning and clean water at night, and I would quilt, and he would carve roses from pecan branches, and we would grow old and die together as the embers softened on a distant January night.

– Excerpt from the forthcoming novel A Very Tall Summer

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