"I pray that God will help you through this time of deep sorrow," Reverend Thorne told Ellie.

"Thank you, Reverend." Ellie took Daisy May's hand and they walked from the grave site back to the car. Daisy May looked back at the grave, as if reluctant to leave it.

"Daddy's gonna be so lonesome down there all by himself," she said.

No he won't, Ellie thought bitterly. He'll be with Jess-Belle. After all this time, she's finally won.

Friends and relatives came to the house all day, bringing enough food to last Ellie and Daisy May a couple of months. Everyone expressed their sympathies and told Ellie that if she ever needed anything, anything at all, all she had to do was ask...

How about my husband and Daisy May's father back? Ellie wanted to say, but didn't.

"How on earth did it happen?" Martha wanted to know. "He seemed so healthy, so full of life the last time I saw him."

"We were in a panic because we couldn't find Daisy May. I saw her hat floating in the lake and thought that she had fell in. I was so scared that I forgot I don't know how to swim and ran right in. The next thing I remember, I was lying on the bank trying to catch my breath. Billy-Ben and Daisy May were there too, but there was something wrong with Billy-Ben. He wouldn't answer me. Somehow we got him to the hospital. In the emergency room they checked him and just shook their heads."

"After the autopsy, they told me he had a massive heart attack and died instantly. Best the doctor could figure was that he got so scared at me almost drowning that his heart just couldn't take it." Ellie didn't mention the black cat that had scratched Billy-Ben.

"Well, at least you and Daisy May are all right," Martha said. "I'm so sorry, Ellie. I know how much you loved him. Just remember, he's in a better place now."

The two women embraced, and Ellie sobbed.

In the cemetary, a black cat sat atop the freshly dug grave. Another black cat soon approached, and the two cats silently made their way into the woods.