The Purpose

My husband’s been gone. He’s been gone quite some time I guess–a few weeks, I think. Might be 16 days? I don’t know. Them days in the last few weeks have kind of strung themselves together–as they do, you see. I don’t do very well on my own. I can’t quite keep track of things.

He always helped me with that sort of thing. I think he was gone two Tuesdays ago? Woke up, and he was just up and gone. The funny thing was that I weren’t really mad about it. Sometimes a man’s just got to up and go for a time, I recon. Don’t be good to him, well, you got to learn the lesson, so you wake up and he’s gone.

I ain’t been sleeping much since he been gone. I guess you could say I’ve been a touch upset about it, and yesterday weren’t much different. I’m not sure if I slept the night before last, but I know for sure I woke up yesterday at some point, so I must have. It was early. I always get out of bed early…to do the chores and the washing…like one does–except there weren’t much to do.

I don’t quite know how many times a body can wash the same shirt over and over again but I did it anyhow; washed my shirt from the night before in the bathroom sink and hung it up to dry over the tub. Normally, I’d do a whole load of laundry and hang it outside–but it was raining and there ain’t a whole load if I’m here by myself. Yesterday I didn’t do a whole lot of that kind of thing, the way I normally would be doing. I kept all this stuff up, the chores, because I need to be useful–a body’s got to be useful to please his partner, you know…or you’ll wake up and he’ll be gone. That’s my purpose. I do the chores. Take care of my husband. I learnt the lesson, I recon. I won’t slip up on it again.

So I finished the chores and headed downstairs. The sky was still black as pitch; as it were yesterday and the day before. It’s been that way for days now. I got down the stairs and stared out at the fields from the front window and saw the storm clouds were still looming on and on for miles—they was spinnin and rolling at a fever pitch, same as they been doin for days; a swirling landscape of darkness spilled out overhead.

The wind pushed them along on their way. The movement was urgent-like. Pressing. It pressed against our old house, just the same, making it whistle and creak from everywhere through hundred-year-old pinholes and knots in the wooden siding. We’ve lived here a long time–my husband and me. It’s an old house. It was old when we bought it. When them storms like this one start howling, if one closes his eyes and does his very best to block out the sounds of the wind and thunder and rain, if he can really focus on this old house, he can feel it come alive. It dances in the storms like this one–I like to think it’s doing it to be defiant–it’s seen over a hundred years and over a hundred storms, and it tells each one of them, you ain’t gonna be the one to blow me over, ya hear? It’s a good house. That’s why we picked it. A strong house. It’s been standing up to this same storm for near on a week now, I think. Power went out right in the beginning of it, but that’s fine. I know my way round my own house in the dark.

I spent so many years thinking we was happy, but you know when I first woke up and seen he was gone, well, I weren’t too broke up about it. Not right away. I figured it was my doing, you see. I blamed myself. There’d got to be a reason for it or he’d of still been there. Forget to scrub something or other? Somethin wrong with dinner? Who knows. I don’t really know if I reacted that first day that he was gone. I don’t know at all. That day was a foggy one. Lots of days are foggy after that. I ain’t been feeling like myself no more lately. Like I ain’t got no reason to ‘be’ no more. I want to be a good husband and take care of my man. That’s what my purpose is. I ain’t got nothin’ else to do.

It were a few days later, might have been a week, that I took a piece to cry. It was a good cry; a healthy one I suppose. It just come outta no place at all. I was getting in from the grocery and went to take off my shoes and I recall while doing such, the last time I took off his boots for him. Kinda silly when you think about it really; that’s the thing that makes a man cry? It weren’t like I took off his boots regularly. I can remember I think I took ‘em off only that one time on account of him getting too drunk and startin’ to get into our bed still wearing them. Sure they’re a nice pair of boots and he keeps them clean, but that don’t mean a man should wear them in his own bed just ‘cause they’re not dirty.

So yea, I thought of that for some reason, put the shopping down and took a seat at the kitchen table and cried and cried. I ain’t cried like that since I was a boy and Pa gave me the bad news that Buck, my dog, done run off and got himself killed by Mr. Tanner’s rusty blue Ford. Mrs. Tanner was the one who was driving it; she didn’t never make eye contact with me again after that. It’s a shameful thing, to cry. I recon she was trying to keep herself from doing such so she stopped lookin’ at me in the eyes. Before that cry at the kitchen table, I didn’t really spend a lot of time reflecting on how I felt, I guess. That’s when I knew that my husband being gone had really upset me something awful. First real genuine grief I can recall in a long time…made worse on account of me knowing it were my fault. The morning after that cry was when them rainstorms started and they ain’t let up since.

Yesterday morning, plain as you see, I’m watching that storm pound and blow all its might across the fields. I’m not sure how long I stared out at those big old drops of rain getting flung down haphazard from them angry dark clouds. I was practically hypnotized–that wide expanse of field, normally, dusty field, I watched rise steadily into a god’s-honest lake. After a piece, I was about to keep going about my day…figured on lookin’ for other things to do round the house to occupy my time while I waited for the rain to let up. So I turned away from the window and when I done that a flash of lightning shone through the living room. And there he was. My husband. Sitting right there on the living room sofa watching me watch the storm plain as can be. I haven’t the slightest how long he’d been sitting there. He didn’t say nothing and neither did I. We ain’t never been men of too many words.

Without him sayin’ so, I knew that he was gonna be needin’ some rest for a while. When you’re with someone a long time, you just know things without them sayin’ so. So after we got hisself up the stairs, into to the bedroom, I helped him dress for bed. I took off them same boots for him again that I done told you ‘bout. They were muddy this time on account of the rain, but I know how he keeps ‘em…so, now I got a chore. Soon, I’ll have them lookin’ like brand new.

I ain’t even mad he been gone 16 days or so. He’s back now as of yesterday mornin’. As of this mornin’ the power come back and the rain seems to be pullin away a bit. Pretty much it’s divine fortune, because I couldn’t quite seem to get the mud out of them wet clothes he came back wearin’ by hand. I spent most of of last night tryin. With the power back, I’ll try the washer. I sure do hope I can get the mud off. I bought this suit ‘specially for his funeral and it weren’t cheap.

I know he ain’t come back on his own, if I can be honest with you and with myself–ain’t a trait more important than one who can be honest with hisself and the world at large. He’s back ‘cause I brought him. I don’t have no illusions ‘bout that. I don’t ‘member doing it, but must have been me on account of how wet I were when I woke up yesterday morning. You can judge me for it if ya like, but it don’t matter none. The internet’s a big place full of anonymous goings-on and this here entry’s just one more post in a great big garbage dump. Ain’t nobody gonna find us. Ain’t nobody gonna never know nothing ‘bout it but the two of us. Bein’ the men that we are, we ain’t never been concerned ‘bout the opinions of them that’s uninvolved. I can rightly say, we never will be.

But I can tell you truly, all that’s not important. The important thing is I got him back home now, and I feel like for the time being, with cleanin the suit and scrubbin the boots, well, I got a reason to ‘be.’ I got my purpose again.

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