Some miracles pour down on us like a mighty river. Some fall with the gentleness of raindrops.
To hear my papa tell it, I was the tiniest miracle ever dropped from the heavens. At least from the cloudy firmament hovering over Coldwater, Texas.
Seems my bent toward stubbornness first evidenced itself while I was ripening in the fountainhead of my beginnings, and it persists until this day. Culling out the hottest day of 1915, I arrived two-anda-half months ahead of schedule, on a day so hot the Devil himself must have been riding the wind. Anyway … that’s what Papa claimed.
“Should’ve stayed put in your swimming pool,” he used to tease.
“Been a heck of a lot cooler.”
But, of course, I hadn’t. My willful foot had reared back and mulekicked Mama in the stomach, commencing her birthing pains. Thus I was born, smack in the middle of Mr. Oswalt Peavy’s dry, dusty cotton patch.
Three weeks before I was to marry Gavin O’Donnell, I set my feet upon the beaten path leading to Two-Toe Creek. What I had to offer Gavin in marriage—my whole heart, or just a part—depended on the decision I would make today.
As my feet tracked the dusty pathway they stirred loose soil to the air. My heart stirred as well, for the guilt I had buried in its depths smoldered as though my brother had just died, and not five years earlier.
In the shadowed days following the tragedy, my disgrace had glared like a packet of shiny new buttons. I’d not thought to hide it at the time. In truth, I’d thought of little, other than how to survive. But at some point during that time of sorrowful existence, when my days and nights strung together like endless telegraph wires, I dug a trench around my heart and buried my shame.
From that day until this, I deeded myself the actor’s role, closing the curtain on my stain of bitter memories, hiding my sorrow behind a veil of pretense. But that old deceiver, Time, had neither softened my guilt nor put it to rest; only allowed it ample pause to fester like deadly gangrene. Now, as the day of my wedding drew near, my heart cried out for healing. It was, you see, far wiser than my head. My heart understood its need for restoration—before I exchanged wedding vows with Gavin. For this reason, I now walked the trail to Two-Toe Creek.
To revisit my failures of yesteryear and reclaim the peace that had slipped past the portals of my childhood. Perhaps then I could give Gavin the entirety of my heart.
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