“Come on, Cy,” she pleaded.
He looked past her, exhaled and ran his fingers though the waves of his hair. “I’m tired. Just leave me alone, and can you get her to stop crying?” He turned away from Mary and headed to the bedroom. “Welcome hooooome, Cy,” he sing-songed defeatedly to himself.
The afternoon had been unseasonably warm for May and the bricks of the house tended to sponge up the heat until the early morning hours. Of course he would be short with her. He hated the heat and judging from the temperature in the valley, the return across the west desert must have been dreadful.
“I’ve got your favorite meatpie with shortcrust ready for you. I could bring you some fresh water so you could wash up.”
“Did you get that…good Lord! What is up with that child, Mary?”
“Cy, please. I think she’s cutting a molar. She’s had a fever and it’s been so hot and we’ve been so looking forward to you comin’ home. Can’t you just come sit down on the porch with me for a while?”
Cy’s father had built them a porch swing when the house was about halfway done and it became obvious that there would be a covered front porch that spanned the front. There was always a bit of a breeze coming down from the canyon and the porch tended to be cooler than inside. Maybe if she could just get him on the swing and away from Ivy’s wailing, he’d calm down and they could have a few moments of peace like when they first set up housekeeping. Maybe she could even get a smile out of him.
Their wedding had been simple. Pastor Hodge from the Methodist church in town married them. She wore her best Sunday dress. Cy did his best to look good, but since he didn’t go to church often, he wasn’t very practiced at cleaning up. Both sets of their parents walked into town with them and Cy’s folks paid to get their picture taken. Pictures were expensive and the only person in town that had a camera was the undertaker, Tiffin Gram. Most families didn’t take pictures of their loved ones until they died, because it cost so much. Mr. Gram was pretty well-to-do, between embalming and taking photos. Cy’s parents had a little more money than most folks. His dad, Jim Earl, was a beet farmer and he supplied the entire northern portion of the state and some of the counties just over the border with his “bloody gold.”
Cy looked up from where he sat on the bed, removed a boot and let it drop to the floor. “Woman, why are you hounding me?”
“It’s just that, well…you’re finally home and I wanted to pass some time talking. It gets lonely without you here and I was just looking forward to some conversation. Ivy’s been a handful the last week and your mother hasn’t been over to help for a while. I guess I just thought that you’d be happy to see me.”
“What? You must be joking! Why are you doing this to me? Isn’t it enough that you have this house and you don’t have to work like most of the wives around here? If I was a farmer, you’d be toiling away. But, no…you have a nice house. You don’t have to work. You got the baby and now your pressuring me ‘cuz I’m not worrying about taking care of you and your loneliness?” His voice became louder the longer he talked. “I get back home and all you can do is complain about how rough your life is?”
Ivy was crying louder now and Cy was scowling back and forth between the nursery and Mary.
“No, that’s not what I’m saying at all! Please let me explain.”
“You ungrateful little bitch! You have been leading me to think that you’re happy, but now I find out that everything I’m doing just ain’t enough for you! You’ve been lying to me! Do you know the kind of pressure that puts on me?”
“Lying? You’re misunderstanding what I’m saying! I swear! Give me a chance!” She was begging and found that her fingers were intertwined in front of her as if she was praying. She thought about Pastor Hodge.
Cy picked up his discarded boot and she tried to stop him from leaving the bedroom by filling the doorway with her body. He took a deep breath, jutted his bottom jaw forward, gritted his teeth and shoved her out of the way. “I am gone!” He hopped several times as he tried to put his boot on as he proceeded out the side door.
She stood in the doorway, sobbing. “I’m sorry! Where are you going? Please come back! Don’t leave like this!”
He waved her off and kept on moving.
Tears ran down her face. Ivy was screaming. Mary spun around and awkwardly stumbled into the nursery. “Stop it right now, Ivy!” she screamed. Ivy was standing and holding the edge of the crib. The child’s eye opened wide; she paused with fear for a moment and then started wailing again. Mary’s hands flew to her temples, she grabbed her hair and she started screaming and muttering unintelligibly. Both mother and daughter continued their delicious duet until night began to fall. Ivy finally went down and her tears gradually diminished as she dozed off. Mary eventually slipped to the floor and slept, as well, her tears staining the wooden floor beneath her face.