It had stopped raining on their way back from the county clinic, but the water still flowed quickly in the gutter of the deserted main street. The sun that by now should have been bringing light to the quiet street remained obscured by clouds left from the storm that had passed during the night. It was early on a Saturday morning and their car was the only one parked at an angle between the stiff rows of buildings that composed the small town's center. The storefronts were all dark and cavernous, without light. Valerie sat in the car waiting for her husband who had gone into the Rexall Drug. He had not bothered to leave the keys in the car. She sat there in silence, without distraction. On the windshield in front of her the remains of a bug spread out across the glass. She began to cry again.
Her hand, cold and weak, pulled on the handle of the door, and it opened. Walking softly and calmly into the street, she was a solitary figure in what appeared a ghost town. She stepped up onto the opposite sidewalk without looking into the hollow True Value hardware store in front of her. She saw only the name of a concrete company pressed into each square of the sidewalk. Coming to the corner, she turned to the right, walking without purpose away from their car, the drug store, her husband.
Halfway down the block in front of her a yellow plastic lighted sign hung above the sidewalk. Donuts. At an angle in front of the donut shop a few cars were parked. Pick-up trucks belonging to farmers who were out early on a weekend morning, others who were without family and in need of company.
She stepped up quietly in front of the store, the rising sun beginning to make the damp air unpleasant. She stopped her walking and looked inside the store. The old men inside under the fluorescent lights drank coffee in styrofoam cups, put out cigarettes into tin ashtrays. They were talking, laughing and telling stories. Weathered faces turned red with excitement, grooved lines stretching with smiles. Thick framed glasses and gray hair cut close on the sides, aged shirts stretched through the middle.
Among the men, her father sat leaned across the pink table. Valerie recognized him there. He smiled and sat back into the fiberglass chair, taking a drag from his cigarette. He turned to the figure at the window, for only a moment, then turned back to his companions.