Crucible of History

Peg Alford Pursell

When they met and began falling in love, she didn’t think of it as taking on the weight of another’s past. Had she thought of it that way, of the insidious infection of his sorrows, she might at least have taken pause. Perhaps not. She was in that phase of wanting to be needed.

His history filled him, bulky, as substantial as bones, and seemed able to survive anything, just as bones can survive even the heat of cremation.

When she held her new baby, its pink-skinned helplessness pierced her heart. She sensed her husband’s bewilderment and resentment always shimmering in the room. Forced to choose, she gave her nurturance to the infant.

One might say that this time of putting the baby’s needs first was the crucible, when the fire might burn through to reduce the new father’s sorrows to ash.

One might hope for a happy ending: certainly when they’d fallen in love that rainy season in the mountains, she’d anticipated if not happiness, a contentment.

So few truly happy endings, thought their baby when he was grown. He kept his sad history of his missing father to himself, or so he believed.

Walking the trails alone, the dogwoods on the mountainside cluttered with new buds. He was unaware of how his eye, like his father’s had, looked out for the form of another, a sturdy sunny female, burning bright.


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