Rosemary lived alone in a crude shack at the end of a neighborless dirt road, on a tiny scrub acre of rocky soil. Each spring, she worked her meager garden, breaking up dry earth with her broken-handled hoe, leaving meandering furrows in uneven rows. Her apron pockets filled with dried seeds and kernels from last fall, she drops a few from gnarled hands, marking each row with a hand-painted sign in her shaky calligraphy.
Carol, the postmistress, rarely brought Rosemary any letters, but she still stopped by just to check on her, to make sure she was okay. A honk from her old mail truck horn told Rosemary she was on her way.
Expecting to see Rosemary sitting on the porch waiting, Carol pulled her truck up to the rickety mailbox and got out of her vehicle. She climbed the stairs to the front door, calling to her friend, hoping to hear her reply from the garden. The only sounds were the creak of her work boots on the worn planks, and squeak of the rusty screen door hinges.
Dark and cool inside the shack, Carol let her eyes adjust to the change in light. Tiptoeing through the rooms, calling softly, a lump formed in her throat, worried what she’d find.
In the small, tidy bedroom, Rosemary was lying on her goose down feather bed, a hand-quilted comforter across her stick-thin legs, a bible clutched in her hands, and a beatific smile on her face. Carol stood in the doorway, torn between heartbreak and envy.
Slowly walking back through the shack, Carol stopped on the porch to sit in Rosemary’s old chair to gather her thoughts. She called the sheriff from the radio in her truck to report Rosemary’s death, then called the pastor. Rosemary was always her last stop, so Carol sat on the porch and waited on the hearse to gather her friend, wondering who else was left to call to mourn the old woman’s passing.