Breena loved fetching water every morning. The river called to her. When she was a child, her mother got the daily water, but she developed a limp and the well got fouled.
Momma couldn’t walk the quarter-mile to the river’s edge without pain so Breena took over the chore. She was young and strong so she didn’t mind the extra distance. Besides, once she rounded the first bend no one could see her daily commune with the water spirits.
She didn’t want her mother to know everything she did. Life was hard enough since Poppa died. The older woman didn’t need her oldest daughter’s future worrying her. At least they got by, Breena thought. Life wasn’t full of luxury but in the ways that counted, their lives were far better.
That morning as she gathered mud in the pail she made especially for the job, she thought back to the night they were forced to stop using water from the well. She could remember Momma screaming, nothing new when Poppa came home after drinking with his friends. This time the yells were different. She never knew why, but Breena raced into the kitchen to find her mother unconscious on the floor, with her leg twisted under her.
Uncomfortable with the direction of her thoughts, she shook them off and finished up her first bucket. She filled the second with water and headed back home. She stopped only to dump the mud into the well. Silently thanking the water spirits for the gift, she looked down into the deep hole and reflected on her part in ruining it.
She smiled when she realized Momma never once asked her what happened to Poppa.
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