The café, with a large plate glass window over looking the Lutheran church, was a staple of Dismal, known throughout the tri-country area for its blueberry pie and the two ladies that met there every morning for prayer and coffee.
Ms’s Evelyn and Zelda knew more about the goings on in town than anyone else; they knew the histories of every family in Dismal for the last fifty years. They should, they were both school teachers in the, now closed, elementary school forty years ago. There wasn’t a long time resident of Dismal that couldn’t help but smile remembering how Ms. Zelda taught them their multiplication tables, or how Ms. Evelyn taught them to dot their i’s and cross their t’s.
Ms. Zelda’s family had been gone for a while, her husband had passed nearly twenty years ago, and her children refused to visit anymore, and insisted she join them for holidays or family occasions. She needed to move to the big city, they would say, away from secluded, distant Dismal, but this was home. She knew she belonged here, and her friendship with Ms. Evelyn meant everything to her now.
Ms. Evelyn never had any children, the children of Dismal the only children she ever wanted. She prided herself on recalling the name of every student she ever taught. The greatest joy of life was in watching a child suddenly understand, the gleam in their eye or the sudden revelation; those moments made all the others well worth it.
Ms. Evelyn and Ms. Zelda were rarely late for morning prayer; if snow got to be too hard to walk through they’d have to wait for a ride from a passing snow plow or a friendly neighbor, which they all were. Arriving at the café, their booth already reserved, right in front of the window allowing them to gaze at the beauty of the sun rise as it overtook the church. In winter the sun would sparkle through icicles, adding to the majesty of the church. In the summer, the lilac bushes would complement the stained glass windows of the church. They always took notice of the dandelions that scattered the lawn of the church, God adding a touch of gold to the scene, sure other people considered them weeds, but they looked kindly on all of God’s creations.
Mary Lou, the waitress, would bring them their coffee and a small plate of eggs, bacon and a slice of orange. They would guffaw at the people who said they needed to eat healthier, at the age of 65 they were still in very good health, despite the few extra pounds. Their breakfast was always the same, and on special occasions they would have pie before heading out for the day.
The prayers were always the same; they would start out with the Lord’s Prayer, voice never wavering:
“Our Father who art heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever and ever. Amen.”
Then they would say the morning prayer:
“I thank You, my heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, Your dear Son, that You have kept me this night from all harm and danger; and I pray You to protect me this day also from sin and every evil, that all my doings and life may please You. For into Your hands I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things. Let Your holy angel be with me, that the wicked foe may have no power over me. Amen.”
They would sit, and talk about old times, family, and the goings on at the church or with any of the locals until the café started to get ready for lunch. Then they would walk the downtown area, a smile and a hello for everyone they encountered. On occasion, they would stop to chat with Mrs. Peterson or Mr. Hale inquiring to this situation or that.
Yes, life was good, and thank God for the gift that it was.