AN AROMA LIKE PRISTINE OYSTERS, like fresh mushrooms, like longing, rises from the forest floor when the segmented shovel of Harvey’s track hoe bites into the soil. Fifty feet away, Mrs. Harvey sits, her bland, powdery pale face nearly invisible from the passenger side of Harvey’s white truck, hands out of sight but no doubt resting on the bible in her lap, King James version all the way.

Mrs. Harvey has a name of her own, something like Enid, but to Buck and me she has always been Mrs. Harvey, an ivory-haired presence from another century. Pleasant, slightly mysterious, calls everyone “dear.” I have heard she pastors a backwoods holy ghost fire church.

Mrs. Harvey never gets out of the truck. Sometimes I approach to pass the time of day, and feel her stir, the slow movement of her head toward me peculiarly intense. I feel half-naked when she looks at me. Is it because she wears long dresses with high necks, sleeves to the wrist, and hemlines to the ankle while I run around in track shorts and black t-shirts with an occasional nod to cold temps wearing one of Buck’s old Cabela’s olive-green zip-up sweat shirts? Or do I sense she wants to biopsy my soul with a snake-handler’s boldness that belies her cornflower blue print cotton dress and soft, plump hands?

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4 thoughts on “Mrs.Harvey

  1. Richard Gilbert says:

    I think, beneath unfathomable layers of thought, that she’s grateful for your presence.

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    1. Beth says:

      Hadn’t thought about that angle, Richard, but I believe you are right. I think, in our own self-chosen off-the-beaten paths, we are linked by the surprise of finding one another in these random moments. Reading your sentence again, I realize I am grateful for hers, too.

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  2. Denny Coates says:

    Wonderful writing. Our world is populated with 7 billion wildly different people, and none of their paths is known to us. It’s fine to imagine what their minds are like, what their journeys are like, but it’s just an indulgence. We cannot know. Lots of people die from their strangeness, but survivors like Mrs. Harvey are a mystery. We accept them with compassion, knowing that we cannot penetrate the separateness.

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    1. Beth says:

      Denny. Your reflections back are always like a fine Tuscan country-style loaf: rather than dissolving instantly, like mass-produced white bread, they are nourishing and give me plenty to chew on. Thank you.

      Like

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