Peggy used to stand in front of her window at night, the light behind her silhouetting her nude body. She knew the boys were outside her window staring at her as she stretched cat-like into the darkness – a yawn carefully becoming a yowl.
She knew the boys were out there, but she didn’t care. She even talked to them about it.
“Clem, I seen you outside my window last night. Ain’t a very gentlemanly thing to do, is it?
Clem blushed – they all blushed. He denied it – they all denied it. “No, Miss Peggy, weren’t me. I was home all night. You can ask my paw.”
“I seen your paw, Clem, he was right beside you. You was both out there watching me, wasn’t you?
Clem shook his head and blushed even redder.
Clem wasn’t a bright boy. Born premature and tiny in a remote cotton field he almost died. He would’ve died if it wasn’t for all the other towns people who took him in when his maw died and his paw took to drink for awhile to get over everything.
Peggy was one of the women who had nursed him, her own baby being stillborn about a week before Clem arrived. She told the preacher she was pleased to help. “I was tired a milkin’ myself an’ my bosom was heavy with the Lord’s gift.”
The preacher told her that her milk was like manna to the newborn Clem and she was pleased to know the preacher didn’t think she was sinning by suckling somebody else’s baby. That was fourteen years ago. Peggy was almost 30.
“I seen all you boys outside my window, Clem. Not every night, but I seen you all out there sometime or other.” Peggy was smiling a sly smile. She didn’t really mind them looking at her standing in the window. She wouldn’t have stood there if she did.
Every boy had wanted her when she was fourteen. She liked walking down the street knowing that every man was staring at her, every woman glaring at her. The boy she married had been killed when his whiskey still blew up. She was already pregnant and gaining weight when he died, and then the baby died too. Then nobody wanted her.
She knew she was getting old. Her hands were already beginning to show her age, and her face was beginning to wrinkle prematurely, just like her mother’s had. It was fourteen years later and she was still stretching in the window, her hands pushing her dirty blonde hair back, then down her sumptuous body, over her breasts, down her hips, over her rear, then up her back as far as they could go, back arching all the while. She was still stretching and hoping someone cared enough to watch.