by Grace Skibicki

The woman stood in the doorway, apron covered arms wrapped about
herself, shoulders hunched. . . .  a narrow faced, bone weary ranch wife. 
Her thick black hair was pulled back into a tight knob; heavy hair
pins anchoring it to her skull.   She peered through the screen at the
country side.

Normally the foothills encroached on the ranch house and its buildings, trapping everything and everybody in a small noose.   Today the purple hills gleamed in the distance, they had drawn back.   Wide open spaces beckoned, enticed, invited exploration.

The soft spring sun bathed the land in warmth and brightness.  A light-footed breeze slipped through the rusting mesh of the screen door and danced around the quiet form.   At first the woman hugged herself a bit harder, resisting the invitation.   Then the door screeched and she stepped out onto the wide porch.  She stood for a moment in the brightness, arms no longer bound to her body.

Eyes lowered to the ground she walked down the steps and out into the yard.   With each step her body, warmed by the sun, moved more freely.  Her head came up and she strode toward the distant foothills.  Now the apron covered only the faded print dress, her arms swung free.  Her light blue eyes gained a bit of the sun's sparkle.  Her mouth was fuller, its corners trembling into the smallest of smiles.  The breeze pushed at her, teased her hair, loosening it.

She stopped, flung her arms toward the blue sky and whirled around and around, her laughter filling the air, her hair flying free. A man's figure filled the screen door.   He watched the woman for a few seconds before flinging the door open.   The harsh screech of the door shot through the air.  The sound reached the woman.   She stopped.  She turned toward the house and the man.

"What are you doing, Woman?" he asked.   "There's work to be done.  This is no time for your foolishness. "

Silently, she moved toward the house, binding her hair as she went.  Behind her the foothills moved closer, the light-footed breeze turned sullen and quiet, the sun slipped behind a mass of clouds.

Grace:  I've been writing for several years.   I've published one nonfiction article in a children’s magazine.   Contact Grace.