“Come on, sit down on the step there, honey. It’s time I shared something with you. I still remember it like it happened yesterday, although it took place long before you were born.”
Please, go on then.
“When I was young, not much older than yourself, you see, I had me a beau. He was a barefoot country boy with jet black eyes and untamed hair and spirit, not a penny to ‘is name. But he was faithful and the town was small and so I was lucky to have a beau at all. Well, things were progressing right along as these things will do, you know.
“Then here comes this new rich good-looking feller what moved in next to my folks’ place, name of Rob Levi. All of us girls were curious, naturally. But we were also suspicious ’cause he wasn’t from ’round here. Like I said, pickin’s were slim, ours being a small community. As luck would have it, there were three single females as his nearest neighbor. I being one of them, it was inevitable that his attention turn to me.
What about the other two girls?
“Why, just my two sisters, but they were still in grammar school! Really, I had no competition. Rob had only my beau. I was as thin as a rail! Rob didn’t care about that. He wasn’t like other men looking for a strong woman to do his cooking and cleaning and farm chores. He had servants that could tend to the labor. Rob had all those fancy exotic ways about him. But, the thing that really set him apart was his deep blue eyes. They were like the sky right before a storm. He was charming and he swept me off my feet.
What about your beau?
“I nearly broke his heart. Pains me every time I think about how I treated him. I was so caught up in the fairy tale. I always dreamed of being some grand lady with servants, living in a big fancy house with not a worry in the world. So, one night we were sitting on the porch and he asked me to marry him. Of course I said yes and the next day I went to town and showed everyone my ring. But then a few days later he disappeared. Left town in the middle of the night – not a soul knew where he’d gone or why. ”
What’a ya do?
“Well, I cried a lot, but my old faithful beau was only too quick to take me back. Six months later, we were married, living on the farm his uncle left him two counties over. I was five months pregnant. I never was anything but tiny, but what I lacked in size I made up for in grit and determination. And it was enough. Enough to raise 6 boys and 2 girls, work side by side with Da, and to make a house a home. We had been married about six years. I remember because Da was holding the twins and little Jack was doing his figures at the table and Patsy was asleep in her bed. I’d spent the day doing the wash and I went stepped outside to get the wash tub around back. I rubbed my poor aching back, looked down at my rough calloused hands and sat down on the overturned tub and took a deep breath. I looked up into the sky and there was one single star lit in the sky. So, like any good country girl does, I made me a wish:
The first star I see tonight;
I wish I may, I wish I might,
Have the wish I wish tonight.
I wish I weren’t so tired at the end of every day and I wish my hands were smooth and that I had money for things like a new wash tub. The hunter’s moon was casting long shadows on the ground. There was a hint of the coming rain in the air. I just stood there for a moment admiring the place that we had built with the sweat of our brow and listened to the wind and Da singing lullabies to the babies. When I saw one of the shadows move. Immediately I froze. I couldn’t even scream. Although I did try. But when the shadow stepped into the light, I recognized it belonged to Rob. ‘Hi, Minnie, it’s been awhile’, he said.
‘Hello Rob, it’s been six years.’
‘Yes. You look well.’
‘Same golden hair, same beautiful brown eyes.”
‘You’ve not changed either – same charm. I guess I should expect you’ll just take off without a word. Again.’
‘Listen, Minnie -‘
‘I’m sure you had your reasons. I’ve forgiven you. If that’s what you’ve come for, then you came all this way for nothing.’
‘I’ve come to ask you to marry me.’
‘You already did that. And then you left.’
‘My brother came that night. We’d had a fight – well, I’d fought with my father and I left and came out here to make my own way. But father was sick and not expected to make it past a week and he’d asked for me. I didn’t have time to leave a note. Then they needed me there. The business was taking up all my time so I couldn’t even think straight. Although, I’ll not deny, I began to have doubts. But I never once forgot about you. I just wanted to do the right thing by you.’
‘So, will come back with me? We could leave in the morning or whenever you want.’
‘Rob, I appreciate the gesture, I do, but, I’m married now.’
‘Not that one – ‘
‘Yeah, that very one.’
‘Surely, you can’t love him. You deserve a better life. Let me give it to you. I can build you a house and buy you jewels and dresses and anything you desire. Leave him, leave this shack and come with me.’
‘Inside that shack is everything I desire.’
‘I thought you’d say that. I had to know.’
‘Goodbye Rob, I’m glad that you stopped by. I’ve often wondered why you left.’
Then I picked up my tub, planted a kiss on his cheek and head back in the house. Just before I opened the door, I glaced back at him but he was gone. I looked in the shadows and the shadow was gone as well – disappeared. It was as if I’d dreamt it all. But I was awake. As I pondered this, I remembered the star and the wish.”
Do you regret that you weren’t still single when he found you.
“Never. I knew then that forever after I would live each day as a gift given to me knowing I was rich in things money cannot buy. It’s one of my fondest memories that I’ve secretly carried in my heart until now.
Why? Why not tell?
Well who would believe it for one? Who would believe that I, Skinny Minnie, was asked to be the bride of a very wealthy man. Twice. Or who’d believe that once I wished upon a star and was granted the wish but I refused it.
Why didn’t you accept?
“Because dear, what I had was far greater. I learned a great lesson that night.
Which was what?
“I never knew how content and wealthy I already was until I closed the door and Da looked up at me with love in his dark eyes and winked. Da-who knew all my secrets, bad habits, and vices -chose to love me anyway. We were happy and safe and warm in the little shack and we had all the treasure we ever needed right there in our growing family.”