"The same as today." That's how Agatha always answered when someone asked her plans for the next day. Of course, not many asked, so she didn't have to answer often. Her days rolled one into another, the only markers being Wednesday evening service, Friday morning grocery shopping and Sunday church. Without those physical activities Agatha's days might simply be invisible wisps breathed into substance by a square on a calendar, holding no real meaning.
While David had been alive, she had felt different, like she was alive as well. When he passed, she became inconsequential, a specter wandering through the motions of living, yet with no substance. How many years had it been? Five? Six? Did it even matter?
She knew God was with her. Without Him, she might have laid herself on the freshly-turned earth of David's grave and never gotten up. Agatha was quite sure that God saw her loneliness but she never expected Him to do anything for her. He was far too busy and she was far too small. This would be the way she would end her days: quiet and alone. She was resigned to the fate.
"Let's go, Daisy. Time to run some errands." She bent down to stroke the head of her little dog, Daisy, and attach the leash to her collar. This was Agatha's small attempt at daily exercise.
She led the dog out the door, which she dutifully turned around to close and lock behind her. With the dog leash in one hand and the noisy ring of keys in the other, her fingers fumbled. The keys fell with a loud clang onto the concrete step. Agatha bent, not easily and with a loud sigh, to pick them up managing to drop Daisy's leash as well.
"Oh good heavens," she cried, exasperated, then yelled, "Daisy!" as her dog had taken the unexpected opportunity at freedom to run down the sidewalk at an alarming pace, barking all the way.
Agatha hobbled behind, flustered, knowing that the dog had boundless energy and that she could never keep up with it even on a good day, which this was not. She continued down the block, no one else in sight.
"Daisy! Come back!" The tears pooled behind her eyes. She would not cry, but Daisy was all she had. What if something happened to her?
After two blocks, Agatha stopped. She was winded and sore and could no longer see the little white dog with the pink leash trailing behind like a windsock. She leaned over to catch her breath, hands on her knees, head bent down.
"Is this pretty little dog yours, ma'am?" The deep voice caused her head to snap up. She was facing a tall, elderly gentleman holding Daisy, who was much more calm and content than her owner.
"Yes, she is. Thank you so much, Mr.--" Agatha paused, suddenly hoping very much to know this man's name.
"Mr. Huffman. But I'd like for you to call me Phillip." He smiled. "I live just up the street and was watering my garden, when this little gal came bounding through my yard. The leash was a tip-off that she must belong to someone. And when I saw you coming down the street, I certainly hoped she was yours, Mrs--" It was Phillip's turn to pause, waiting for a conclusion to his sentence.
"Agatha Brown. And it's 'Ms'. My husband passed away a few years ago." Why in the world did I tell him that? He couldn't possibly care. "Please call me Agatha. I appreciate your help, Phillip. I must let you get back to your garden." She put her arms out for Daisy. As he passed the dog to her, she noticed stains on his shirt and pants. "I certainly hope you got those stains from gardening and not from chasing my dog."
Phillip colored, still smiling. "Well, she wasn't exactly easy to catch, I'll say that."
"Oh no. Please. You must let me do something for you. Can I have those clothes laundered?" Wash his clothes? Agatha, dear, it's been much too long since you had a conversation with a handsome man. Invite him to coffee. Or church. Something.
"No. Really, it was nothing. But would you like to have a cup of coffee with me? Unless you have somewhere else to go?"
Was that a butterfly in her stomach? The excitement of a day different than the last? She couldn't say 'no' to that. "I'd love to."
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