There was no light to wake them naturally. Low gray clouds hung over the valley. From her window she could see sheets of rain falling miles away. Rain water ran off the end of the drain pipe onto the deck; the windows were splattered with it.
They slept and Sharon let them sleep. The quiet made her cheerful. She knew forty-two minutes would be enough to get them all ready and out the door. Forty-two minutes. That meant five more for her, right now, in the quiet.
The lemon in the tea soured her tongue. She’d grabbed the wrong tea bag. She dumped the liquid out in the sink and went for another. Jasmine, this time. She double checked the package and turned the burner dial to reheat the water.
His email was still open on her laptop. She knew it was honorable of him to write, because he promised he would. Still, staring at his words depressed her. She shut the lid of the computer. Sometimes it felt too long. Sometimes the burn was too real. Like she was running up a steep hill that would never end.
“He’s loyal, I’m loyal,” Sharon whispered.
That hint of guilt made her creak the laptop open again. Shutting it was like shutting him out, shutting everything out. And she shouldn’t do that. This was sacrifice. Sacrifice should hurt.
Day fifty-two. Hard to believe it’s been that long. Dean and I hitched a ride into town – ten miles – just to get some Internet access. It’s choppy. Might go anytime, so I’ll keep this short. Miss you. It’s going well. Delivered new supplies to a district that hadn’t seen any relief. Able to bring some kids into town to the orphanage a couple days ago. They were glad just to have beds and a couple meals a day – and clean water. I know we’re doing good here. Love you. Sam.
No telling when he’d be back. Where there was good to do, there was Sam. And she loved him for it.
“Mommy?” It was Lily, wrapped up in her blanket, her thumb in her mouth, hair disheveled, eyes gluey.
“Good morning, baby,” Sharon said. She reached out and Lily came to her, crawled up into her lap, wound an arm around her neck. “We heard from daddy.”
“Read it,” Lily said. Her voice was still muffled from the thumb she never took out.
At the end, Lily looked up. Big blue eyes, just like her daddy’s. “When’s he coming home?”
“Soon,” Sharon said.
“I don’t know,” she said. “Maybe in a few weeks. As soon as those people over there feel better.”
“I want them to feel better now,” Lily said.
“I know, honey, me too.” Sharon shifted in her seat. “We’d better get the others up. It’s getting late. Mommy has to get to work.”
Lily nodded. She was so brave, Sharon thought.
“Day fifty-three, baby,” she whispered into her daughter’s soft hair. “We can do this.”
This story was inspired by Sharon's words: cheerful, honorable and loyal. Thanks, Sharon! If you'd like to leave me some inspiring words for a future story, click here.