Dovie and Noble
He had small hands and a chubby face. A man with the face of the little boy he used to be. The kind of man who never really grew up. The kind who lives with his mother. And Noble had lived with Dovie since the day he was born, 37 years ago. Dovie saw no reason to change things now.
Dovie herself was childlike and frail. Noble was afraid he might break her if he hugged her too tight, which he sometimes wanted to do because he couldn’t wrap his mind around losing her; she was all he had. Of course he had his bagging job at the Piggly Wiggly, but he couldn’t wrap his arms around that.
It was Tuesday, her day off. Dovie sat at the kitchen table shelling peas. Her fingers were starting to hurt. She wriggled around and peeled her bare legs from the vinyl chair. For some reason, shelling peas always made her think of Wayne. She wasn’t sure why, but here she sat shelling and thinking. Where was he now? Was he alone? Did he ever think about her? He had left right before Noble was born. Most folks said she was better off. Wayne drank like a fish and never held a job. She knew she was better off without him, but there was something about him…and she was lonely.
It seemed to Dovie that it had had been just her and Noble forever. She had been so busy working to take care of herself and her little boy, Dovie never had time to date. Not that she would find anybody in Leroy anyway. Most of the men Dovie knew were old enough to be her father. Seemed to her that all the young ones moved away as soon as they were out of Leroy High. The only ones who stuck around were the ones who dropped out, and they were too much like Wayne. Of course there was Brother Nebits at the Piney Woods Baptist Church where Dovie sat in the third seat on the third row every Sunday, but it would be sinful to think of him that way even though Dovie thought he was handsome. Then there was Mr. Johnson, the mailman, but she wasn’t interested in him.
Dovie always looked forward to Tuesday. It was the only day, except Sunday of course, that she did not cut hair and roll permanents at the Beauty Box. She enjoyed her work and the other beauticians, but there were days that her back hurt and her feet hurt and even though Dovie would never admit it, her heart hurt a little too. She was tired, tired of getting older and not having anyone to grow old with. Not that Noble would get married and move away. He would always be around. Dovie knew in her heart he was too lazy to leave. He had always been lazy–a chubby boy who couldn’t make the cut at t-ball because he just couldn’t keep up. He was slow and clumsy and he stuttered. She put him in Scouts, but he just wasn’t interested and besides the other boys had a daddy to go on the camping and fishing trips. So Noble grew up watching reruns of I Love Lucy on Friday nights with Dovie while the other boys played ball, went out with girls and grew into Eagle Scouts full of confidence and badges.
Dovie put the peas in a pot for later and headed out to the post office. She dreaded getting caught in a storm and it sure looked dark, but she had to mail the bills. She always paid her way and always on time. Her car sputtered and jerked along the dirt roads. It was hot, even for Alabama in June. She felt sweat roll down her back as she drove, her hair blowing in all directions in the wind. She pulled up to the post office. The wind was hot and wicked. The air sizzled; Dovie felt on edge. She held the bills in one hand along with her oversized, overstuffed purse and held on to her skirt with her other hand to keep it from blowing up. She cursed slightly under her breath as she dropped the bills and scrambled to scoop them up, still holding onto her skirt. That is when she heard the whistle.
Dovie ignored it. It must be that mad wind. The second time she heard it, Dovie turned around and saw him.
He was leaning against an 18 wheeler. His cowboy hat tilted just slightly over his weathered face. Dovie flushed as he winked from under his cowboy hat. She looked behind her, but no, it was her he was looking at. She was shocked at herself. Dovie never talked to strange men. Heck, she hardly talked to any men at all unless you counted Brother Nebbits and Mr. Johnson. But this man…this cowboy with his weathered and lined face and mischevious twinkling eyes was flirting with her and Dovie’s resolve was melting. She couldn’t help but wonder…. What if? Just what if…? They stood next to his truck and talked and flirted until it began to rain. Dovie held her purse over her head and watched as he climbed up in his big rig and tipped his hat. Dovie saw her future: growing older and more tired while Noble grew older and lazier and needier. She held out her hand and he helped her up. Dovie thought it was about time she had a little fun. As the truck pulled away, she thought it was time for Noble to grow up.
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Tonya Calvert lives in Columbus, Georgia. She enjoys writing children’s stories, short stories and watercolor art. She finds inspiration in her everyday surroundings. http://www.tonyacalvert.com/