The Whispering Grasses


Julia couldn’t sleep. She stared at the ceiling in the darkness, mulling things over. She was tired of it all. Tired of trying to make the marriage work. She had seriously considered running to Michael. She and Rosalie had left the house early before anyone woke up. Rosalie asked a lot of questions at first, wondering where they were going.

“Just for a walk. Just you and me,” Julia had said. They had a long quiet walk through the fields of prairie grass that started a block from their house and went on forever. Rosalie accompanied her wordlessly. Perhaps she accepted that her mother needed the quiet time. She seemed to enjoy having her mother all to herself, to judge by the loving grip of her little hand. In time the quiet whispering of the long grasses soothed Julia and she was able to go home again.

Except for meeting with Michael after he and Karl had fought in the street, Julia had no real contact with him for eight years. They’d had chance meetings in town when he appeared out of nowhere, but Julia doubted that there was much chance involved on Michael’s part.

Those few times they exchanged whispered greetings, usually in the Co-op when she was shopping for groceries.

“How’s my little girl?”

“She’s fine. Please go away now before someone sees.”

“I miss you.”

“I have to go now. Take care of yourself.” She dared not say more, lest she fan flames that would end up burning them both. That was the extent of their relationship, and after all these years, Karl was still crazy with hurt and jealousy. It was no use. She was too tired to go on.

She got out of bed and went to the medicine cabinet. She took what was left in the bottle of sleeping pills and lay back down in her bed.

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