She pressed the brake pedal, slowing the car to make the turn onto Main Street. Unable to resist a look at the town she had left twelve years ago, she drove along the sycamore-lined streets, passing the old domed courthouse and the ornate clock tower in the middle of the square.
She remembered Tremont’s Antiques in the block to her right, and next to it, Brenner’s Bakery. She and her mom had made it a tradition to go there on Saturday mornings. Marilys could almost smell the fresh-baked cinnamon rolls, see Mrs. Culver in her pink and white uniform, her gray hair tucked neatly beneath the matching cap, standing behind the counter, smiling and welcoming them inside.
Of course, that was all before.
Braking again, she turned onto Fir Street, drove a couple of blocks, and pulled up to the curb in front of a gray-and-white, wood-frame house with fading paint. Katie slept in the passenger seat, her head against the window.
Marilys turned off the engine and for long moments just sat there, staring at the house that had once been her home. The house she had fled that awful night.
After so many years, just being there again made her stomach churn. Where she gripped the steering wheel, her palms were sweating. Years of emotional turmoil threatened to surface, but she firmly tamped them down.
She hadn’t seen her mother since the night she had left, the night she had run off with Burly Hanson, one of the town bad boys. Even when they were dating, Burly drank too much and flirted with other woman, but he would never hurt her, and Marilys was desperate to get away. When Burly offered to marry her and take her away from Dreyerville, she had jumped at the chance.
She had sworn that night she would never return, but she had a daughter to think of now, a child who had just survived a series of brutal radiation and chemotherapy treatments for brain cancer. Against the window, Katie’s bald head gleamed in the sunlight slanting down through the early spring clouds. Marilys had considered shaving off her own shoulder-length blond hair the way people did when a loved one was fighting the disease, but Katie had begged her not to.
“I don’t want to see you, Mom, and be reminded how awful I look.”
And so Marilys had tamed the soft curls that were her secret vanity into a modest French braid and silently thanked her brave little girl.
She glanced over at the child sleeping peacefully in the seat. The prognosis was good, the doctors said. With luck and time, Katie should recover. Marilys clung to those words, but it was too early to know for sure if the treatments had succeeded.
Which was the reason she was back in Dreyerville.
After what Katie had suffered, the child deserved her most fervent wish: to meet her grandmother, Winifred Maddox, Marilys’ mother, one of the few relatives Katie had.
Order A Song For My Mother Today!