Her mind was upended splintery apple crates, rotten bananas that drew fruit flies, rusty pipes spewing rusty liquid, entrails. She couldn't shake it, that day.
Because she knew, whichever path she chose, she'd suffer. Her children and husband would suffer. Even her parents, her aunt Dolores. They would all suffer if she went down the rocky track, off to the left. The one that wound behind the old barn, not the paved, well-worn road out front everyone hoped she'd stay on. The stretch maybe even she, herself, wanted to stick to.
She was being metaphorical, of course. That was how she coped with unpleasantness. By gathering metaphors, sometimes ridiculous, inane comparisons from the depths of her diseased brain.
Tommy came out of the house, the screen door slapping shut behind him. He strode up to her lawn chair, where she sat with a light blanket over her knees. She wished he'd handed her a sweating glass of lemonade, but then, she couldn't expect too much.
Even from there, she could smell the sweet hay in the barn, the not so sweet smell of the two horses.
His knees cracked as he crouched down next to her. A cool breeze ruffled his hair. "What are you thinking about?" he asked.
"I keep wishing this had never happened."
She shrugged. She couldn't say that exactly. Certainly, if it hadn't happened, her life would be more laundry drying on the line, soft nuzzling of mares' noses, harvesting peas and carrots from the garden. But she knew that, because of what she (they) were going through, her life held a certain richness it wouldn't otherwise.
Standing, Tommy said, "You have to do what you think is best."
"I know." She couldn't voice to him her fear of losing the respect of everyone she held dear. It would sound petty. But, Land, she wanted the ache to go away.
Later that night, when the sky had turned from gilded yellow to oily blue and Tommy was working on the irrigation hoses out back, she went up to their bedroom and packed a few things. She gingerly grabbed her faded red duffel and left the house.
She took the long way around the back of the barn. Tossing away everyone's decent opinion of her, she was leaving Tommy and going to Him.
On a grassy mound, just below where swallows swooped in and out of the barn's rafters, she laid out the picture of her almost grown children with her parents when they'd all gotten together at the Dells the year before. She laid out her bible and Tommy's shotgun.
She just wanted the ache to go away. She wanted the tumor, spreading like slithery octopus legs, to stop claiming her mind.
Before she did it, she sat cross legged, closed her eyes and smiled as the wheaty-sweet breeze swept over her face. Then she whispered to Him that she was ready.