“Will you stay long enough to let me finish telling you?” he asked. “Then, if you want to go, I won’t stop you. Or blame you. Only, please, Judith. Hear me out.”
I stared into Horace’s blue eyes, wanting to find some hint of the man who would marry a girl he barely knew. There was only the Horace that I knew—the one who waited patiently on the old woman buying stamps—his eyes brimming with the long-held sadness I’d wanted to cure. Finally I nodded.
“Thank you.” He let go of my shoulders. “Thank you. Will you sit?”
“No.” I crossed my arms over my chest and remained standing. Ready to run.
“Fair enough.” He took a deep breath and frowned. “It was never a happy time being married to Lucy,” he began. “I tried to make the best of it, but it was clear from the get go that she wasn’t the type who cared to settle down.
“She stayed on at the fair, even though I got a regular full time job and she didn’t need to work. Said she got bored staying home all day. She didn’t tell me when they fired her. No, I found out when a buddy told me he’d seen her in town on an afternoon she was supposed to be at work. When I asked her about being fired, she said the let her go because she was starting to show. I don’t know if that was true or not.
“I half expected her to go find another job, but no. She would “go exploring.” I don’t know where she went, and I gave up trying to find out. Lucy hated being asked what she was up to. She used to laugh and say, ‘I’ll be the death of you Horace Andersen.’ ” Horace stopped and looked up at the clouds. His angel cloud had drifted away.
“I thought Lucy would take to being a mother and wife once Ernst came along,” he continued, his chin dropping to his chest. “I was wrong again. She fell into a deep spell of sadness, or something, after Ernst was born. Barely got out of bed. Couldn’t, she said. The doctor said that happened sometimes, and we just had to get through it. Eventually, she did get better. At least well enough to take to roaming again.
“I was working at the general store in town at that time. Once she was feeling better, I’d come home to half the time to find her gone. She needed fresh air, she said. Sometimes she even left Ernst behind. One time, I came home and he was crying so hard it took an hour or more to calm him down…”