“Yeah, right. Like that actually could happen.”
The surly older woman didn't even look up from the wooden planks as she wiped them clean with an old rag. The young lady that worked alongside her didn't seem bothered by her disbelief.
“You just wait. He'll come for me, I know he will.”
“I'm just gonna tell you straight. This Micheal of yours ain't coming.”
The younger of the two looked up through the dirty window at the night sky. “He will, just you wait. I know it.”
The woman gave a grunting laugh. “Sure, and when he does I'll eat my dishrag. It ain't gonna happen.” She went back to scrubbing the floor in silence. The candles on the wall flickered eerily as the two worked side by side wordlessly for hours on end, like they did every night. The older woman eventually got up. “Ah, my back,” She shook her head. “This gets worse every night.”
“I'm sorry, Marie.”
The older woman looked at her, still shaking her head. “No, I'm alright now. I'd better be getting up to bed. You gonna finish up here?”
Her companion bent down low, concentrating hard on a single black stain. “Alright. I'll see you tomorrow then.”
The woman gave a crooked smile. “You're a good girl, Anna. Goodnight.” She walked slowly past the bar and up the stairs.
“Goodnight,” said Anna to the empty room.
After a few minutes, she looked up. Glancing around to make sure no one saw her, she walked slowly to the window. The dirty windowpane reflected the tears in her eyes. One small tear fell to the hardwood floor, then another as she gazed out at the moon, a pale crescent floating in the summer sky. She placed one hand against the glass.
“Micheal... Where are you?” Her green eyes searched what she could see of the sky. “I believe that you remember me... I'm waiting for you. Where are you?”
She received no answer from the empty air.
The tears fell faster as she slowly curled her hand into a fist. “Micheal... I'm waiting for you. Mara said you were looking, but...” She halfheartedly thumped her fist against the windowsill, sinking to her knees. “What if she was wrong?” She put her head in her hands, and the tears streamed down her arms onto her blue dress. “Micheal, please...”
Behind her, a lone candle flickered out.
“Anna? Are you alright?” Marie's voice came from behind her.
“Y-yes...” Anna said quickly, trying to pull herself together.
The older woman kneeled beside her on the stained floor. “Stop lying. If you were alright you wouldn't be crying. Now, tell me, what's wrong?”
“M-Mi...” Anna couldn't finish the word.
“Micheal?” She nodded. Deep sympathy etched itself across the older woman's face. “Ah, poor girl. Love is the cruelest of masters.” She gave Anna a small hug. Anna couldn't even smile. Marie tried to console her. “Hush... Hush... It'll be alright. Everything heals with time. Hush...” Nothing she could say seemed to help Anna as the tears washed through her soul. “Was he really that wonderful?”
“Yes...” The tears seemed to slow just a little. Marie took that as a sign she was on the right track.
“Tell me about him then.”
“Al-alright.” Anna paused a moment to collect her thoughts. “He was... kind. He didn't like people to see it, but he was. But he wouldn't like me to talk about that. He had a wonderful sense of humor...” She smiled as a memory flowed through her mind. “There was this one time when we were traveling alongside this huge lake. I tripped and fell in, and he tried to help me out, and I pulled him in with me... He looked so funny, standing in the lake with me, dripping wet. He looked surprised for a moment, and then he started laughing...” The sadness returned to her voice. “But now...” Anna trailed off, and tears began to flow again.
“I'm so sorry...”
“It's alright, it's nothing that you did. It's just... nothing.” Marie waited. She knew there was more to it then that. “But sometimes... waiting is so hard!”
“I might be wrong,” Marie said with a little smile, “but the best things in life are usually worth waiting for.”
Anna stared at her, speechless.
Marie bit her lip. She didn't want to say it. “He'll come. Just wait and see.” She stretched, yawning in the candle light. “But for now... we should probably get to bed.”
Anna pondered this for a moment more, then smiled. “You're right. You get off to bed, I'll put out the candles and be up in a moment.”
Marie slowly walked up the stairs once more. From the window of her bedroom, she looked out to the hill on the edge of town. Anna's blue dress was clearly visible as she stood on top of the hill, staring at the moon, waiting.
Marie offered a word to the starry sky. “Micheal, wherever you are... Don't you dare make a liar out of me.” With that, she turned and went to bed.