South Dakota. The land of opportunity. But that was before the drought, that was before me and Isaac put a child in the well. That was before we did it the second time. The second time, Liz screamed when Isaac told her he needed her. She screamed until I put my hand over her mouth and held her lips together. It was wrong what we were doing to her, but Isaac was right about the horses and Jerseybell. They had to be watered.
Like before, I latched Alise and Emma in their room. I went with the others to the well, none of us saying anything as we walked against the wind. Isaac carried Liz who cried into his shoulder, her arms around his neck. At the well we knew what to do, we knew what to expect, and that made it all the worse. We were getting used to doing this thing. We were giving in to it.
Afterward, Isaac watered our four horses and then hitched two of them, Bucky and Beaut, to the wagon. He was holding true to his promise to get supplies, and John was going with him.
Me and the girls – I had to make Liz – went down the rise to the barn to see them off. John waited on the buckboard, all grins. It had been a good while since he’d been to Scenic; it had been Mary’s turn the last time. I gave Isaac a small cloth bag. “Soda biscuits and a can of pears,” I said. “It’s all I’ve got.”
“It’s enough.” He quickly touched my arm and then he hoisted himself to the top of the wheel. The wagon rocking some, Isaac settled on the buckboard, finding the worn spots where he always sat. He took the reins from John and giddyupped the horses. Creaking, the wagon lurched, and they pulled away, Rounder lagging behind them likely as hot, thirsty and hungry as any of us.