I don’t think that finding her will be very hard. I know her name. It’s Clara. I know where she lives with her Mom, her no-good Dad, and her seven brothers and sisters. They live on the part of the ranch that’s known as North Town, where the Russian and Polish Immigrants work. I don’t suppose I’ll get a chance to talk to her at the one-room school. It’s five miles from her house and she rides on the back of a horse with her little sister to get there. Too many people around.
I guess I’ll hang out by the house and hope for a time after school. Of course, that’s when it will happen. She’ll be on the back step, snapping green beans for dinner, sitting next to a large bowl of just picked bing cherries from the tree in the orchard. She’ll be thinking about clouds, thinking about what she might be if only, if . . .
I’ll be a lady, who brought over some bread from the big house. That would be best, I think. That would give me a reason for being there. I’ll charm her into letting me help with snapping the beans and pitting the cherries. She’ll tell me her name, and I’ll tell her that people call me Liz. We’ll talk a little about the hard times since the market crashed. She’ll say she doesn’t know that much has changed for her or if it ever would.
That’s when I’ll tell her a story. I’ll say. . . .
Things are going to change for you, and actually, they’re going to change fairly soon. Your whole family is going to move away from this ranch to a place up north. Illinois or somewhere like that, I think. You’ll get a job and people will love you there. They’ll call you after a flower—Daisy. You’ll be the only Daisy in town, and everyone will know you. They’ll come to see you as strong, and brave, and wise, and fun to be with.
When you get older, say 22, you’ll meet a man who has his own business. He really will be tall, dark, and handsome. This handsome man will love you deeply from the second he sees you, because you make him laugh. You’ll love him back because he’s strong enough to be gentle. He will make you feel safe and he will be proud of you. It will be a marriage of equals who are perfectly matched and strong for each other. You’ll have a life where you won’t have to pretend that bacon fat on Sunday is meat. You’ll have meat every day—at every meal, if you want it.
Many people will look to you for advice and admire you for the character that you’re forming right here and right now. So don’t lose your dreams. What you learn right now will help someone out someday, some way, some how.
“Will we have kids?” she might ask. A kid still lost in the story, in love with the dream.
“Oh yes,” I will answer.
You’ll have two sons who will be both your favorites, each for their own reasons. One because he’s so smart and so sensitive, the other because he’s so wild and so free. You’ll have a daughter too. She will look just like you, be just like you, and she will be with you until the moment you die.
“What a wonderful story,” she’ll say. “Wish it was true.”
“Not a story,” I’ll answer “your life. It’s an important one. Many people will be better because they knew a girl from Kansas called Daisy.”
Then I’ll say good-bye and walk up to the big house eating a handful of cherries. I love bing cherries.
Many people were better because of who she was, especially her daughter who looks just like her, and is just like her, and who was there until the moment she died.
That’s why I have to go tell her.
—me strauss Letting me be