Sometimes, when the hunched shoulders of the mountain behind her cast their long shadow over the little ranch, she stands in the doorway, and looks down to where the road disappears into the butter-light of the valley.
She doesn't just stand there, of course; she's always doing five things at once. But when she stands in the doorway, looking out, the cup she's drying gets very, very dry.
She doesn't do it too often, or at least not too often when she's wearing me. I don't know what she does in her other dresses. Maybe she does this once a month, when the light's right. More often in the winter, of course, when the shadows are longer and there's less to do on the ranch.
She'll stand there, drying that cup, and looking off down the road. I don't think the road has a name, or at least, I've never heard one. It's the only road, so calling it "the road" is good enough. I've never been down it. I came up it in a box, carried by her husband, who picked me up at the post office in town, or so I guess. He gets the mail, if there is any, every month or so. I wasn't really paying attention on my way up. I would have if I'd have known I'd never see much of anything but the kitchen of this ranch.
It's not a bad kitchen. It's very clean, and everything's handy, and the stove is good, but there aren't any extras. Not a frill, not a speck of paint not necessary to keep things decent. No curtains; you don't need curtains when you've got no neighbors. The floorboards are polished only by use, and the walls are whitewashed every year whether they need it or not. But there are no pictures on them.
It's quiet here. Well, not exactly quiet; her husband's voice booms, and of course the children chatter like the magpies they are. But she's quiet. I hardly ever hear her voice. Sometimes I feel her chest rising to speak, but she almost always stops, unless it's just to tell the children, softly, to take their elbows off the table, or to stop speaking with their mouths full. The oldest is six; they're talking about her going to school in the fall.
If she's alone, she'll hum. I like it when she does that. It feels good. She never sings out loud, though, and I wish she would. I bet at least some of those songs have words.
Her being quiet makes me quiet, and the other dresses too. We never talk to each other. We hang in the closet on our own hooks, in our own thoughts. I think about the road, and what might be down it. You can't see another house from the doorway, and I've never seen a car go by on the road, or someone walking, even. Looking out that way, your husband out somewhere on the ranch and the children playing in the back yard, you might reasonably think you're the only person in the world.
She has a treasure, a good-luck charm she keeps in her pocket. It goes in every morning, and she puts it on her dresser every night. I can't believe the children haven't gotten to it, but so far they've left it alone. It's a little silver sixpence. How it got all the way out here, I don't know. Maybe it was her bride's sixpence, for luck? All I know is that when she looks out down the road like that, she'll sometimes put the cup down and hold the sixpence, tight, just for a minute. Then she closes the door and starts the cornbread for dinner.
I think someday she's going to leave the cup, and the dishtowel, and step out into the yard. She'll close the door carefully behind her, and just start walking towards the road. She won't look back. I hope she's wearing me when she does it.