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As I scurried down the path littered with old refuse, my body collided with another. Outweighing the fragile, old woman, I knocked Adalene McCarven off her feet. She grunted in pain for a moment, before rising from her knees.
“My apologies, Miss McCarven,” I whispered.
Age showed through her wrinkled hands that trembled as she regained her balance. Her gray hair, woven in a tight bun under her bonnet, barely moved in the commotion, except for a few loose strands that fell in front of her ice blue eyes.
An acquaintance of my mother’s, she had just sneaked from the fated depth of the graveyard that I traveled toward. Both of us caught visiting the condemned. Our plight of doubtless innocence was an unavoidable truth.
Her eyes shifted to the ground as she bit her lip. “No need for apologies, or such formality, dear. Are you visiting thy mother’s grave this afternoon?”
“I am certain she smiles down upon you from Heaven. She was such a good, honorable woman of God. You must miss her deeply.”
“She has been gone nearly five months now, and I miss her every second of every day. I would give the world to speak to her just one more time.”
“She is with God. Certainly, you can speak with her in thy prayers.”
I ducked my chin to study the pathway rather than face the old woman. Tears blinded my eyes. I rubbed the back of my neck, pressing my fingers callously into my skin, hoping the pain would dull the heartbreak bleeding from my soul. Surely, Adalene did not mean harm with her words. Softly spoken, she only meant to convey some sort of empathy that she believed would calm the hurt in my heart.
It did not work.
“I do not wish to speak to her in prayer. I wish to speak to her, in flesh and bone, upon this earth.”
Before I could step away from her, Adalene clutched my shoulders. Her hands squeezed tight against my skin—an offering of comfort that brought no comfort, and never would.
“Do you believe she would want her beloved daughter to live with such pain?”
Reluctantly, I shook my head.
“No, she would not, dear. She would not want such fret for you.”
I inhaled a deep breath. “I hold no concern for my fret. I hold concern for not except the pain of a loss so great I doubt I will ever recover. She was taken from me, taken because of the accusations of two young girls whose reckless greed grievously torments me.”