Tuesday, October 16, 2012
The Cabin (Blogophlia 34.5 and GBE 74)
The cobwebs moved like puppets on a string. In the 50 years she lived here, Ellie couldn’t remember when the wind cut so. Pulling the caftan tight, she stood and looked at the blizzard of falling oak and hickory leaves. Stoking the small fire in the stove, she sat in the hard chair. She never liked cushions. They made you soft and that was something you couldn’t be out here. Weakness was punished in the woods. He taught her that.
Silver liquid twinkled in the jar in front of her, begging to be used. It was a gift from a neighbor a long time ago, back when there were neighbors. Mother’s warnings drifted into her consciousness. Bright blue horses of Armageddon would come. They would travel over the hill and far away, destroying all in their path. It didn’t matter anymore. With a faraway look, she took a slug of the moonshine and waited for the warmth to take her. She took the Bible off the stand next to the chair and then put it back. This wasn’t the comfort she was looking for.
It had been almost two years since she found him slumped over his chair. It seemed like yesterday. The doctors said the stroke took him quick with very little paid. That seemed like such a blessing at the time. Everything after was such a blur. She remembers the kids bringing over dinner. Some strange round bread with toppings called pizza. She’d never heard of such, bringing store bought food to a death. Used to be a neighbor went out of their way to bring dinner to the bereaved. Lord knows, she kept a freezer stocked for the occasion. But there weren’t neighbors anymore. Just the cabin and 2 miles of abandoned coal mine.
The funeral came and went. All the people they hadn’t seen for years. Only a couple from his family, though. There had been a big falling out over a broken promise concerning some land and they hadn’t spoken since. Most of them were gone anyway. She guessed what was left showed up just to remind her they did exist. She didn’t care. Not for the land or for them. They were a bunch of money grubbers anyway. Preacher said a few words and they threw the dirt. And it was over.
Almost mechanically, she walked to the closet. She went through his things again. His work shirts and funeral suit hung in the closet. She laid them out carefully. She could still smell the cigarette smoke on them. So many memories. An old photo album caught her eye. Images of their life came to life on every page. One had been taken when they first met at church. Another showed them at the lake before he went into the service. She remembered that trip. It was where they first discussed marriage, deciding to wait until he came home. There was the one in his dress uniform after he had come home from war. In a pocket on the album’s back flap she found a sheet of paper. Gently, she unfolded it and read. It was the poem he had sent from Belgium. And whenever she needed comfort, she would read it again.
Tonight was one of those nights. The sheet came easily from its holding place in the Bible. Pulling the caftan closer, she put on her reading glasses and began to read aloud.
Another dark night
And I am alone
Without the other
That makes me whole.
But lonely? Not I.
For her spirit lies
Between my heart
And the moon.
Warmth came over her shoulders as she finished. She turned towards it and saw his face. His outstretched hands inviting her to one more dance. Flustered, she stepped back and smoothed the old dress. She smiled and knew. She draped the caftan over the chair. As she raised her hands to take his, she could hear “Stars Fell on Alabama” and they were falling for her.
Story (c) Christopher H. Mitchell 2010, 2012
Picture (c) Christopher H. Mitchell 2012