Sneak Peeks

Dry-eyed and silent, Abby Malloy focused on the wooden casket that held the remains of the father shed never known.  The north wind rattled the bare limbs of an old scrub oak tree in the corner of the small cemetery. The preacher read the twenty-third Psalm but the words were whipped away with the fierce wind.

Dozens of people bunched up under the tent and sang Ill Fly Away.She looked at the words on the back of the funeral program, but she didnt sing along. On the last verse of the song someone tapped her on the shoulder and she looked up into the green eyes of a man with a daisy in his hand. He shoved it toward her and she took it, then he moved on down the row of three folding chairs and gave one to each of two other women.  Abby wondered what in the hell she was supposed to do with it. Didnt folks usually put a rose on the casket if they followed that tradition? Could the women next to her be Ezras other two daughters?

She glanced over at them, covertly studying each of them as they stared straight ahead at the casket. The will said that the sisters all had to live together in Ezras house; that if any one of them left, they could have a third of his money but not a bit of the ranch. The last one standing got the land, the cattle, the house and the whole shebang. If more than one was left at the end of one year, then they would share the ranch. Neither of those two looked like they were interested in anything but the cash-out, especially the prissy one right next to her. And the wild-looking hippy on the end would probably get bored real early, no doubt about it.

Abby wasnt totally sure if she wanted anything of Ezras. Not his money or his damned land, but shed stick around a few days to see what happened. Hell, without the Army anymore, she didnt have anything else to do and she might like ranching once she learned how to do it.

Her stomach twisted into a pretzel, more from stress than hunger. Would it be a sin to eat one of the miniature candy bars she had tucked away in her jacket pocket? She was reminded how shed felt in Afghanistanthe same emptiness surrounded by nervous energyespecially that horrible day with the little girl. Today was not her fault, though. Today the burden fell on Ezra even if he was dead.

The cold January wind didnt feel like the scorching wind that pushed the desert  sand storms. The colors were different. Everything over there was shades of tan; here they were an array of orange, ochre and mustard. But the lonesome aura surrounding her remained the same. Maybe it was because she had a war to fight here, too.



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