It was the silence that bothered me the most. The silence, after he took the hound and went hunting, was maddening. Yes, we certainly had more land here in South Dakota, but what good was land? Yes, it yields crops which we could sell. It’s not truly the silence but the lack of family and friends that made my tears flow and my heart ache. Oh, no! It’s starting to snow! Another day that my wash wouldn’t dry outside on the line hung tightly between the pole and the outhouse. If I were outside I would hear the wind blow instead of this heavy silence inside. Why couldn’t I be like Martha Hopper who lives two miles down the road? It wasn’t quiet in her cabin with four small children under foot. That’s really why the silence bothers me. Why can’t I have a baby? Why can’t I give my husband a son to hunt with, to farm with? I’m a failure! We moved here to give our family lots of room to grow. What family? Why does it have to be just Henry, me and our dog? The other women look at me strangely when we walk into church. I feel their eyes on my stomach and I know what they’re thinking. They make me anxious to get home. My parents in Pennsylvania are excitedly waiting for a letter from us announcing that I am pregnant. I don’t even like to write to them anymore. Oh, the wash on the line. I should take it down since it is snowing. Maybe the snow, cool as it touches my burning cheeks, will cover my tears. Tears because of the silence.
Diane Hess is a resident of New Jersey and employed by the Jefferson Township Public Library as a senior library assistant. She hosts Wordsmiths, a writing group that meets once a month at the library. Besides reading, of course, she enjoys spending time with family, especially her young grandsons.