Angela whirled, ready to run and almost ran into Adam.
“What’s wrong?! Are you alright? What happened?”
“I saw her! The girl in the spring! She’s right here in the back!”
The three of them—Adam, Angela and Mary—rushed into the Chapel.
The back corner was empty, the floor dry. Light from the front window made a bright spot on the worn, painted floor boards.
“Right HERE!” Angela marched over to the spot of sunshine and stomped her feet. “She was standing here, wet and shivering, and crying! I swear to God!”
The tour guide walked in then. “Young lady, do not use the Lord’s name in vain! Especially not in His House! I must ask you all to leave right now!”
As if to emphasize her words, the bell on the Parsonage porch began to clang.
“It’s time for the noon meal, anyway. Please!” Her voice took on a note of pleading. “I have to close this door and get up to the kitchen.”
As they emerged from the Chapel, the whole crowd was moving toward the house for the noon meal.
“Would you be interested in lunch with me in town, rather than here?” asked Mary. “I think we have a lot to talk about, even more than before…” She didn’t finish the sentence. “And, to be honest, I’d rather not ride the church bus back to town this evening.”
* * *
It was just after the noon hour when the three of them got out of the car in front of Smitty’s Diner, the only diner in town.
“It’s not the Ritz but its wholesome food,” Mary said. “I had breakfast this morning, and I’m still alive!” She laughed.
As they reached the door, two women approached and greeted Mary.
“Why, Mary! Marydell Piersol! Is that you? ” One of them laid a hand on her forearm. It might have been a claw, for Marydell’s reaction.
“Is it still Piersol, Marydell? Or have you found yourself a willing man?” The venom in the second woman’s voice was unmistakable.
Marydell went almost white and seemed to shrink. Whatever enemies these two had been, nothing had changed in the intervening years, for Marydell.
She looked at Adam and Angela.
“I’m not feeling well. You go ahead and I’ll catch up with you later. It was good to meet you two.” She looked in the direction of the other two but didn’t meet their eyes. “Sorry, ladies. I’m not feeling well.”
“Oh Mary! We were just going to have lunch. We were hoping you’d sit with us and catch up on things. You’ve been gone so long. Why it was… what? Day after High School graduation when you left town so suddenly. So much to talk about…”
Without another word, Mary turned her back and walked away toward the Shady Rest Motel, also the only one in town. The two women looked at each other and smirked.
“She always was a queer duck!” They tittered, just like the movies, and then continued down the street, arms linked, each with a large purse on her free arm. After a few steps, one turned around.
“I hope we will we see you at the Hymn Sing tonight? It’s always such a good time!” It was more an inquiry than an invite.
“Probably not,” Adam answered.
Both women shrugged and continued their stroll.