The summer couldn’t have announced a more unholy arrival. Ablaze crops had turned to dust. The little that spring brought was wasted under the blistering heat. Only the rats survived. They fed on the little that remained and then ate some more.
A little town, that was dry and thirsty, stood in the periphery of vast deserts. It hosted little houses and almost all of them were built of wood.
A well that came with the promise of water was almost empty. A man in his thirties, jumped inside and then climbed back up with a full pail in hand. A big gulp of the water he had retrieved was followed with panting and cursing. Life was not easy in little towns stranded in deserts, in the middle of no-where. He jumped right back in with a second pail.
More panting followed when got back up. He looked back, beyond a green fence, towards a barren farm. The summer had been equally unkind to him as the others. ‘May the lord save us’, he bellowed.
With a pail in each hand, he walked back to his wooden house. There was a welcoming party to greet him on the porch.
“Honey, the kids need more water.” This came from a woman in her late twenties. Tall and handsome. Motherhood had added a few extra pounds to what was god’s craftsmanship. Ebony hair and sharp features up top and slender frame with curves as one mannerlessly let one’s eyes continue to scan below.
“Tell them to fetch it, themselves” he growled. He was just as tall as his woman. It seemed like he once matched her in more than just height. But time had not been as kind to him.
“Honey, you make us laugh” she retorted feigning humor. “We delicate things don’t get into a man’s business”, she further cajoled him.
He made his way up a few steps and walked right up to her as she clutched the elder of her two daughters, tightly by the hand. He said nothing and walked right inside.
She waited for a few seconds to pass and walked right in.
The two girls were poured a glass of water each from the two pails that had clumsily been placed on top of a floorboard in the pantry. The elder picked up one pail and made her way to do other things water allows you to do. Her sister followed.
He sat there atop a bed, changing into a dry shirt. The door opened. “Things have to change, William.” “Those girls need you.”
“They need their daddy to be the strong man, I remember him to be” she spoke with tears rolling down her cheeks.
“A good man is just as strong as his woman lets him be, Beth. And, you drained me of all my strength.” He sounded weak. Silence was accompanied by sobbing.
“I did what I had to. My children…” she was cut off before she could finish. “Our children were provided for by their father” he screamed.
“Their mother needn’t be whoring around for nothing.” He was now standing up and seething. Sweat trickled down his forehead. His nostrils flared and spit raining down with each word.
Silence had no company.
“I am a whore but I am also your wife and the mother of our children” she spoke back. Tears stilled filled her cheeks but they didn’t alter her stern tone.
“You are not my wife, no more.”
They were in a stand-off and no one was about to lower their gaze.
“Yes, I am different. Different to a man who vowed to stand by his woman in sickness or health.” She raised her hand to command silence as he about to protest.
“And yes my body wears the scent of another man but, if it’s only my body you made your vows to then you were never my man and I never your woman. William, I vowed loyalty and love and my soul will provide you just that till you hear me breathe. As for the scent, I wash my body twice with sand in a desert just to rid it. But you still smell it none the less.”
Even water wouldn’t or couldn’t change what was different.
Picture by Valentin Lacoste (Unsplash)