Academic journal article Hecate

Praise Be

Academic journal article Hecate

Praise Be

Article excerpt

-Are you ever coming back?

-Back where?

-To the farm...

-No. (And God forbid!)

He hung his head, the hat in his hand half covering his chest like a mourner at a graveside. She continued peeling potatoes and paring the rind off pumpkin, rearranging the chopping-board and knife with inordinate care. The man stood behind her like a chastised boy.

-What about Dad?

- What about him?

A potato made a crisp sound like a ricochet as she split it in two with the knife. Starch was whitening the surface of the board.

-We can't leave him there by himself.

- Why not?

He did not reply. The reasons were self-evident.

- He won't be lonely, she added in a toneless voice, with you for company.

He swallowed. Swallowing his pride.

She turned and glanced at him as if he'd just arrived. He looked like a boy who'd lost his mother. One half of her heart melted while the other half turned to stone. Yet there was no mistaking the hurt in his face, the bewilderment.

The farm had sapped her vitality, along with her father-in-law and husband, not to mention the tribe of children the latter had bestowed on her. Now, not for the first time, she realised he was the neediest of all.

But surely she'd done enough? For the first time since her marriage, she had a little money of her own. Hard-earned money, wages from cleaning other people's houses. Just enough to make her mistress of this rented cottage. Her own space.

- Sit down, she said. You're making the place look untidy.

Obethently, he sat. She handed him a cup of tea. Why were men so helpless, she wondered. Would there ever be an end to this?

- I suppose I'd better be going, he said, finishing the tea.

- Suit yourself.

- Can I give you a hand with anything? …

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