Out beneath the fireflies and the brittle fall kindling, still clinging to the trees, the wind carried a smoking scent right across from old Thom Saddler’s griddle to the patient nose of a white haired Doris, barefoot and still, on the porch her husband built forty years before. By the time the scent carried, you couldn’t tell that it was beef, you could only find the wood smoke. Doris stepped down, her naked toes kissed the wet grass. She stopped before the edge of path, and let the sensation press against her. She could hear the nightbirds across the fields and she knew that this was going to be it. She would stay here this time. She would die here someday. For now she could breathe the wood smoke and dew scent, and let her breast push gently against the night.
Last time she visited her daddy’s farm, she’d stayed only two days. He had died on the Monday, and on the Tuesday she had left for Paris. She had cared for him for so many years after her own husband had passed on, and felt wretched at the guilt of resenting how her daddy needed her. Now, without him here, she missed him, and felt guilt again, in other ways. She’d been so young, and her daughter was coming. Now she was another woman, from another world. Nadine was back in York, England, with her fiancé, and Doris hadn’t seen her for almost a month, the longest the two had been apart since the womb. Doris was sure now that this is where she was supposed to be, not for some greater god, or some arrangement of stars, but for herself, and because it fit. It felt good.
Nadine was going to be married in July, and they wanted to have the wedding in Paris. Doris had told them people wouldn’t come. Of course those who could afford it would, but what about the others she wanted to be there, you had to think about that. Nadine had looked up cheap flights, and Eurostar deals, and enclosed it with the invitations of her English friends. She wanted a Paris wedding. Doris had harboured a quiet fancy that they would have the wedding here, it would be nice to marry on your granddaddy’s farm. Just like Doris had; they’d built an arch out of an old piece of metal framework from her daddy’s workshop, and jammed it all with wisteria and white grass and violets. Everyone had danced till the sun turned them pink and the happy couple had gone up to their marriage bed while the party continued. It felt like thinking of a different girl, when Doris told herself those stories. Out here inhaling the softest of nights, while wood smoke lingered and crept into her body. Her feet were getting cold but she didn’t notice. It’s funny, she thought, how far away we can get, and still be in the same world as each other. She went inside to pull on one of her daddy’s old jumpers from a chest in the upstairs bedroom, and came back out with a tarp to lay down on the wet grass, pulling her mother’s quilt over her legs and tucking it under her feet, she fell asleep, like girl under the stars.