Moonlight lit the darkness forcing purple shadows to rise, glowing the sky like angels in flight. Coyote watched the Pegasus constellation gallop across the night sky. It could not follow its ancient hoof beats nor dream of what life was like in the stars. A lonely howl rose and was momentarily caught in water vapor before descending into silence in the bitter air. Then another howl followed until coyote songovertook every other sound except the drum of heartbeats pounding.
That is how the day began, with the world feeling a world away from itself. As if everything had gone back to a distant time and place, without a reckoning of anything but the midnight sky and the howling of a lonely coyote.
In the morning, the old scarecrow stood in a field of wheat, on the very spot where long dead Indians had once stood, fought and died. Jenny stood in the kitchen doorway, where several generations of other women had stood listening to the call of mourning doves before beginning another day caught between old dreams and the constant unfulfilled expectations of life as a wife and mother…
Looking down the drive she studied the rusting remains of the Cadillac that had sealed her destiny and tied her to the man who had taken her for a ride and brought her back home carrying the first of their children. She hadn’t loved him then and wasn’t sure if she ever had or could. The void between them had multiplied with each child, each unhappy night and each bill due that couldn’t be paid.
“This is the price you pay for being easy,” her self-hatred bellowed to her even after all these years when forgiveness for youthful foolishness should have already occurred. But it hadn’t come and Jenny wondered if it ever would.
Her husband sloped up the steps and came into the kitchen to get a drink of water.
“It’s a scorcher out there again today. No clue how much I’ll be able to do,” he said between hearty gulps.
“I thought I’d make us a cold supper tonight, what do you think?” she asked.
“Whatever you like, you know I always leave those things up to you…”
“But I was just ask…OK.”
The stillness of the air exaggerated the stillness between them.
“Lots of nonsense on the news this morning,” he said, “Newsman called it ‘social unrest.’ Sometimes it seems like the whole world is unraveling.”
“Really, what’s going on? You didn’t wake me to make your breakfast…”
“I think you had a bad night, so I let you sleep,” he said, walking over to her.
“Dang coyote was howling so loud I’m surprised anyone got any rest,” she said.
“That wasn’t it,” he interrupted. “You can’t hide much from me, yet you always try…”
“So do you want an early supper tonight?” she replied as she turned away. “I’m just asking because I wanted to polish the brass and get some other things done this afternoon.”
He didn’t respond but walked out of the kitchen and back out into the summer sun.
In the sky, a lone hawk slowly circled and glided indifferent to the struggles of those below. Jenny watched it, feeling fully awake for the first time that day. She didn’t hear her husband reenter the kitchen and jumped when he addressed her.
“Sorry,” he said noticing her shock. “Got a call from up the road, Hank wants me to help him lift some bags of cement and work on the radiator of his old Lincoln. It doesn’t seem like I’m going to get much done here today, so I thought I’d go over there and help him out for a while.”
Jenny pursed her lips and nodded.
There was nothing to say as they stood together beneath the electric hum of the old ceiling fan. It was a given that this was how it would be between them until one of them died or finally gave up and left. Youthful eagerness to explore every aspect of themselves had been lost and replaced by a need to overlook what remained.
Jenny spent the rest of the afternoon polishing the stained brass and making potato salad.
That night in bed, beneath an orchestration of stars, they lay silently side-by-side as the world around them darkened into oblivion. They did not know that great things were being born or dying in the universe or that just around the corner both blessings and troubles were coming in a series of leaps and bounces. There was nothing but the stillness of sleep upon troubled pillows and coyotesong begging Pegasus to linger.