Still in her elegant silk pajamas, every morning at 6:00, Marymae would walk all the way around her house three times, padding through the wet grass in her pink crocs. She wore rose red lipstick and lavender blue eyeshadow. Her snow white hair was perfectly pulled back into a neat bun at the nape of her neck.
Every morning at 6:00, I walked Sunnydog, a big old fluffy golden retriever.
Marymae and I would wave to each other as I passed by her house and Sunnydog would bark.
We didn't stop to speak. In fact, there wasn't even a shout of "hello" or a "good morning".
No, only a wave.
It was our morning ritual, Marymae's and mine.
Marymae was new to the neighborhood. She moved into the Hutchinson's house after Cara Hutchison ran away with George Hurley. Tom Hutchinson, Cara's husband was so distraught that he said he couldn't bear to live in the town anymore. That's when he sold the house to Marymae.
The day Marymae moved in, I was taking the dog for his afternoon walk and I stopped to introduce myself.
You know we had the usual new neighbor chat.
I said, "Welcome to the neighborhood, if you need anything, I live three doors down."
Now that I think of it, I don't recall Marymae saying anything. She smiled, nodded and then waved to me as she got on with her move.
Marymae became the talk of the neighborhood. No one in our Tuesday morning coffee klatch knew anything about her.
Junie, who lives right across the street from her, knocked on her door a few days after Marymae moved in.
"I asked her to join us on Tuesdays, but she never responded," said Junie.
Junie told us that Marymae smiled and nodded as she took the basket of muffins Junie had baked.
"She didn't even invite me in," Junie said.
Junie was the one who told us about the "three times around the house" jaunt that Marymae took each morning.
"I watch her from my front window. It's three times around the house. Always three times," she said.
Yesterday morning, at 6:00, as I approached Marymae's house, I saw her sitting on her stoop. She was barefoot, no pink crocs. Her head was down, cradled in her arms. Her hair was loose hanging down around her shaking shoulders.
I walked up to her. "Marymae?"
She picked her head up and looked at me. For a brief moment, I became distracted by her eyes. The rims were red, from crying. But her eyes were the bluest I've ever seen. I wondered why I'd never noticed them before.
"What's wrong?" I asked.
Her voice was soft, "I am so very tired, she whispered."
She was clutching a wrinkled piece of paper.
Sunnydog was getting restless, tugging to get on with his walk. Marymae clicked her tongue and Sunnydog's ears perked up. He went up to Marymae and began licking her toes. She giggled.
I said, "I don't want to intrude, but if you want to talk, you can always knock on my door. Anytime. Really.
Marymae looked up at me and smiled weakly.
"Thank-you," she said softly.
As I turned to walk away, I heard the sqeak of a door opening. I looked back and Marymae was no longer on the stoop.
The next three days, when I passed by Marymae's house on my 6 a.m. morning walks with Sunnydog, she wasn't outside. I missed waving to her.
Junie called me.
"It's been three days and Marymae has not been outside doing her "three times jaunt".
Junie was a little compact bundle of a woman with short curly brown hair and large hazel eyes. It seemed that some part of her body was always in motion. Her voice was high and squeaky and she talked in fast spurts.
"Have you gone over to her house?" I asked.
"Oh, no," said Junie. "Bad idea. No. Nope. Not a good thing to do."
I started to suggest that maybe we could go together, when she interruppted me.
"Oops, gotta go. The guy is here to fix our washing machine."
Before I could say good-bye she had already hung up.
As I went about my day, I kept thinking about Marymae.
I admonished myself. Stop it! You have become obsessed with this woman!
Just then, my doorbell rang. I laughed and thought, Wouldn't it be funny if Marymae was at my front door?
I peered out the frontdoor side window and saw Marymae standing on my porch holding on to the hand of a child.
I opened the door. "Come on in."
The child, a little girl, had her long blond hair tied back with a pink ribbon. The ribbon matched her pink sun dress and pink crocs. She had the bluest of eyes.
"This is Cray," Marymae said. "She's my son, Charlie's daughter."
"Cray will be living with me for awhile," her voice cracked as she tried to hold back a sob.
Should I go on?