If she could have pictured the consequences, she would have been careful. But she was never good at seeing the outcome and never stopped to think how what she did reflected on her reputation. What mattered for her was how it felt…now.
The outside never looked that appealing to her. The time came when she would need to leave the place across that swinging bridge that cut her off from the world and she did not want to go. A river ran between the place on the hillside and the road leaving. She had been beautiful in her youth, round and rosy. The men had come a courting, her mother watched in her quiet, stoic way. They had sent her to college and left the other sisters at home. In her they saw possibilities for bigger and better things. She had actually gone away for a while to teach in a house near the mountains and lived with a family of famous people. But in the end she came back across the bridge and chose to stay.
When the handsome stranger arrived that day, hat in hand, she was smitten. He charmed and wooed her with his outdoor tan and smell of fresh air. They stood in the evening sun or walked on the hills covered with flowers. He took her to meet his grandmother, the raiser of this man and she was in love again. The gentle little woman tended to her needs and loved her like a daughter. The man was doted on and patted gently by the little woman. He was spoiled for the day as though he were four.
Her father knew that people thought she was not doing the right thing. She, with the education and experience, should not make a life with a man that wanted to live in the past, a man barely educated to eighth grade. She thought he was unspoiled by things of the world and found it appealing. She did not see that her reputation would always be colored by what he did.
So on a July day they were married in the parlor of her parents house and she moved back across the swinging bridge to stay forever. She loved the man. She didn’t mind that he would want her to live with a water pump at the kitchen sink and an outhouse. But she worried for her boys that slept in the other room. The man believed in the whip and thought a boy could be shaped by the back of his hand. It was not long before she realized that he had fallen in love with her because she reminded him of his grandmother. He expected her to spoil him and pat him gently. He wanted to remain forever four.
The river rushed wildly under the bridge in the spring and ran hot and dirty in the summer. The ice on its surface in the winter was slick and cold water threatened anyone that stepped on its surface. Sisters had escaped. A brother went to war never to return. But she stayed behind. It had felt so good to begin with. When she stopped now to reflect on what she might have done with her life, she saw a picture of education and freedom. But she had chosen and now she had to find a way to make it feel good…now!