Elma sits on her old porch, watching the tree at the end of the lane stretch branches up to the sky. Leaves in the crown are just starting to flame golden: the sky is an unrelieved stretch of late summer blue. Elma has both hands in a scarf, needles going this way and that. Breeze blows up down the old country road: still warm, still smelling of the hay harvest. Dies back some: she listens. Nothing but the wind, and hours to go till the nurse comes from town.

Her tea's getting cold beside her but there's another line of stitches, and old Elma's mindful not to drop them. She's not much mind left to be remembering her count, and markers are just another thing to forget when it gets late and she forgets she's old, or her husband's dead, or the children out of the house.

But she reaches the end of that row, puts her scarf down in her lap, takes the still-warm mug. It's heavy: hurts her hands full just-about. It's a great big old thing of tea and oranges that came all the way from China, all mixed together the way she's liked it for a good thirty years, even when it was passing hard to get anything but Florida oranges and her dried stores ran thin in bad years.

There are no bad years anymore, just evenings where she looks for her sons to remind them to wash behind ears before they sleep, or her husband to fix that leak in the upstairs bathroom.

Beside her, there's a thick notebook, and she thumbs through it, reminding herself. There's the scarf, for her son. Is he away in China? No, Indiana, just a state away. She looks up as the tree at the end of the lane stirs in the breeze. Smiles.

The wind whispers just a bit. "Plumber's coming tomorrow, Ma, don't forget. Right after your tea tomorrow morning." Dies back, and Elma takes her pen, puts another note next to the one about the leak.

It's still for a long moment. Elma sighs, whispers back, "Love you, son. Love the littles too."

The air is unmoving, the tree at the end of the lane and the flame-tipped leaves not stirring. Her tea is still just barely warm. Soft as an exhale the wind speaks again, just a stirring before Elma's mind drifts to where she's at with this scarf.

"We love you too, ma," and as soft as bird's feathers, "Don't forget your meds!"

And the wind dies back, and like that it's passing to evening, though it must have been hours. Elma finds herself sitting, a scarf finished in her lap, the dregs of her tea long cold, the pill container empty beside her, the notebook filled with notes.

At the end of the lane, the tree whispers nothings to her, and up comes the nurse from town, to put her down to bed like a child. She blinks, her head is on a pillow, high above in her bedroom, turned towards the window as headlights flash against the laneway.

The breeze brushes quiet against the window pane, and for a moment, she hears a child's voice - which? But she's falling deep, down into sleep.

Nameless or named, someone loves Elma, and she sleeps the undisturbed sleep of the truly content.