You didn’t come.
I waited all evening in the willow tree, with gnats buzzing in my face and sap sticking in my hair, watching for you to return from town.
I know you went to town tonight. I heard you ask Mr. Johnson after church if you could pay a call on him this evening. You must want to borrow his ox team.
But you were gone so long. You never came. Maybe they asked you to supper. Or maybe you went home another way.
Mother chided me ragged for missing chores and supper, and said all that was left for me was what had stuck to the stew pot. Darrel had already scraped the pot bare, but Mother made me wash it in the stream anyway.
There’s nothing so bright as the stream by day, nothing so black on a moonless night.
I bent and drank straight from it. It was all I had to fill my belly. And maybe, I thought, you’d be thirsty, too, after a scratchy day of haying, and before retiring to bed you’d dip down into the same stream and drink the water I had kissed. You’ve cooled off here most summer nights since you were a boy.
I thought how, in the darkness, I would feel like any other girl to you. Beneath my dress I have no cause for shame.
I thought how, if you knew, you might look twice at me, bend your thoughts my way and see if they snap quickly back, or linger.
But you don’t know.
And you never will.
For I am forbidden from telling.