The house stood like a deck of cards. And it swayed. Just ever so lightly, the wind wobbled its frame, barely planted in the sandy grass. Yet it stood, as it had for a sweep of decades. It was small—just a few rooms dispersed over two stories of drywall and wooden beams. And where the salty Carolina air hadn’t stalked, the smell of mildew lingered.
Loretta leaned the hammock forward so that her feet could touch the porch floor. She stood and walked to the railing, looking up and down the road and then out to the water. Her house was the only house that offered a panorama of the marshes and estuaries of South Carolina’s coast, and through the sea pines, she could see the town’s main road and the houses scattered along the waterway.
The screened door slammed behind her. She had gone inside to prepare a bowl of oatmeal and a cup coffee, which she carried back out to the porch on a tin tray and set down on the table in the corner opposite the hammock. She sat and ate her breakfast, reading the paper and watching the tide recede as the sun grew.