She had one of those worried looks on her face. Not quite a frown, definitely not a smile. Just a little makeup I think. Her hair cut to hang just above her shoulders. If you looked close, you could see she was overdue for another trip to the beauty shop. Dark hair and gray roots. There were wrinkles in the corners of her eyes.
We were both on a late night airplane ride, headed back to Mississippi. You could see towns and street lights below us, in the distance.
I’d been gone for a month. She was headed home to visit aging parents.
We had a couple of hours to talk, knowing we’d never see the other again.
“My husband is a preacher.” she told me. We were waiting on the free cola and pretzels.
“I work in the oilfield. We don’t get many preachers offshore.” I didn’t know what to say next. Awkward.
“Can I tell you something?” she asked. I’m sitting there, two hours from home, five miles high and the cabin doors are locked. “What?”
“I never wanted to be a preacher’s wife. I didn’t think that kind of life was for me. I wanted to see the world, the bright lights, big cities, that sort of thing. Instead, I’m in a small town, going to church three and four days a week.” I watch my husband christen babies and bury grandfathers. He hears every bad thing a married couple can do to one another.”
“Mam?” I interrupted her.
I looked to see if she had a couple of those little whiskey bottles handy. I’m thinking about myself.
“There are days I hate what my husband does. That’s not what I signed up for when we got married.”
“I know about that. I don’t think my wife wanted an offshore oil worker either.” The words jumped out of my mouth while I was trying to figure out what to say or just ask for another seat on the plane. “But, wasn’t he a preacher, religious, that sort of thing before you two got married? Can I ask that question?”
“He’s always been a good man. That’s why I married him. No, he was called to be a preacher after we married. He worked in a tire dealership.” Honestly, my first thought was a cell phone ringing and all it said was “God.” She took another breath, we’re headed towards home now, I thought.
“There was a revival, we were having some trouble in our marriage and suddenly, he’s talking about going into the ministry. A year later, he’s got a small church in Missouri. I’m pregnant again and don’t know what to do. That was ten years ago. We have two children. He’s a good preacher. They all like him at the church. Some days, I’m just not cut out to be a preacher’s wife.”
Before I fell asleep that night, I prayed for a man and a woman I didn’t know.
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