Pitch black, now, when the alarm went off at 5:30. Just a few weeks ago, it had been almost light, but the season was clearly shifting. Mid-August. It was hot as blazes during the day, often followed by a thunderstorm at night. She’d been caught in the downpour more than once, coming home from the bus stop at an almost-dark 7:45, still facing baths, and bedtimes, and packing lunches for tomorrow.
It started out as a joke. When her car broke down for the last time, and there was no money for repairs or even a used replacement, she’d joked with Tom that she’d take the bus to work if he’d take the kids to school and pick them up from practice. To her surprise, he’d said yes. So she’d dug her old running shoes out from the back of the closet — the ones she hadn’t had time to use ever since Dixie, her middle girl, had been born. She figured she’d walk/jog to the bus stop for a day or two before Tom threw up his hands and told her she could have his truck and he’d catch a ride to work with one of the guys. Maybe he was just too attached to his old truck, or, maybe, as he said, he actually liked the time with the kids, listening to them talk about school, and boys, and sports. And getting to interject a bit of fatherly advice every now and then.
Either way, she found herself enjoying the 20 minutes of solitude in the morning and again in the evening, even when she got caught in the rain. It gave her time to decompress from the morning hustle of finding homework, settling arguments, and dishing out oatmeal before she walked through the doors of the medical center and began taking temperatures and drawing blood. And, again in the evening, what had become a pretty serious jog gave her time to slip off the pressures of work before she turned back into a wife and mother. It had been a long time, she realized — at least eight years, because Shelby, her youngest, was eight years old — since she’d had any regular time to herself, time to just move and think.
By August, she was noticing that she had more stamina. When she and Virginia took each other’s blood pressure, as they did before their monthly Girls’ Night Out at The Shack, her numbers were as good as they’d ever been. She was sleeping better, too.
So it came as a complete surprise when, a week after the company-required physical, Dr. Landry touched her shoulder and said, “I’d like to have a chat with you about your results. Can you come into my office?”
She’d been a nurse too long not to recognize that carefully-neutral face and that soft, serious tone.
Picture found here.