Trembling, the petite woman flitted about the room, cleaning every corner possible. Her thoughts raced as quickly as her body, and always went back to the man that would be arriving.
Only two more hours
She dressed their children, and tried to make them presentable.
What a torturous year it had been for the family. Using every last penny they had saved, and their oldest working to support his mother and seven other children was not where she had hoped for the future.
Strange men would occasionally call on her, and she would respectfully turn them away. Her man had always been the one, and no other could change it. She knew in her soul, he felt the same.
Memories returning to those late nights in his new car, when they were both young and reckless. They would drive deep into the woods, declaring their love and exchanging kisses. Seemed like a decades ago, when he was taken away by the police, his own kind.
Traitors.
Wrongfully accused, they stole her husband away, and locked him up for a year with monsters and demons. She was almost terrified to see what would come through the front door.
Resting in the kitchen, she poured a glass of water and after hours of being on her feet, sat down. Taking a sip, she heard a tap on the front door.
Before she could stand up, she heard the creak of a door opening, and the voice she became enraptured with so many years ago, met her ears. Tears welled in her eyes, blurring her vision. Their children raced down the stairs, giddy with excitement to see their father once more.
Collecting herself, she stood up, and walked to the kitchen's opening.
He stood there, surrounded by their sons and daughters. She walked to him, as their eyes met, and embraced for the first time in over a year. Sensing something in him changed, she searched for signs of coldness or roughness. All she could find was vulnerability and fragility.
Leaving their embrace, they walk their family to the dining room, ready to feast on a large supper. Her brother-in-law sent her some money before his release, and she knew exactly what she was going to use it on. After a year of prison slop, she wanted to treat him to the best meal he would have for years to come.
After supper, the children were put to bed, and the two were left alone together, at last. Putting his arm around her waist, they slowly walked the path to their bedroom. Few words had been exchanged since he walked through the door, but his glances spoke volumes.
I'm so sorry for all I put you through.
She placed her finger on his lips.
No words. Just love me.
Passionately they kissed, and hands roamed freely. When suddenly he began to weep, and buried his head into her shoulder. Tears wet her well-worn dress, but she paid them no mind.
Not tonight, my dear. I'm not ready.
Said between his sobs, she understood all too well what he meant. The pain in his eyes shone through to her, and she was content with holding her man while he slept, and fought through the terrors.