As the evening drew in, Esther wanted to be alone. There was a party in town and her lover had worded an invitation, so she called and turned him down. She lied that she had an errand to run, that her mother depended on her for it. And when she heard her friend’s buzz on the phone, inquiring on her absence at the girls’ dinner downtown, she was apt to top her lie to the crown. She said there was a fever bringing her down, and she would need the evening to recline.
Thus from all but her mother she contrived a reason to be away on her own. Then she stole across the lawn and went for a walk in the night, forlorn, whispering solemn wishes to the moon, and letting her mind wander into the unknown. Her heart beat for a world other than this one. This cruel one that wanted her to drown. This one with weights that pulled her down. This one where she had a thousand reasons to mourn. This one that bade the tears rain from her eyes and punctuated each waking moment with pain.
When she felt numbed enough to return, she trekked back the three miles she had gone, in which time most noises had died down, and as she approached home she thought of how to explain her glaring absence with a lie and a grin. But her mother stood with arms crossed on the lawn. When she saw her, she opened her arms and drew her daughter in. She did not utter a word.
Out there in the night they did yet remain, locked in a tight embrace with heart in between. Their breaths heaved in unison. Their tears were drawn on their faces, flowing onto each other’s shoulders. They were rills on the rolling plains of affliction, and yet streams of affection — a reminder that she was not alone; that here she did belong. That she would always have her cornerstone: her mother, with her gift to discern.