Along the Edge of Rumor
Snow fell most of the day and had covered the walk way up to the house. I stamped my feet and shook the white flakes off of my jacket and gloves. The familiar squeak of the door and the warmth of the open-faced stove welcomed me home.
The box I put together in wood shop was missing from atop the narrow chest of drawers beside the front door. He was proud I had made it for him and kept his keys, wallet, cigarettes, and lighter in it. All that was left on the old chest was a neatly folded handkerchief.
As I sat on the farmhouse bench to peel off my layers of jackets and shoes, I detected a bare spot on the wall. His scarf, heavy parka and boots were missing.
An Inner Knowing
A sinking, empty suspicion plummeted over me, as I hung my wool hat on the nearly barren rack above the mirror. My vacant eyes stared back at me, alone in my reflection, where jackets once dangled so thick the looking-glass was barely noticed.
I knew he was leaving. She had told me the night before.
She stood in the kitchen, near the stove, facing the window. I slipped my arm inside of hers and leaned my head against her shoulder. We watched the silent snow falling under the street light. Steam from the stove pushed toward the glass and collected like wretched fog that shrouds a road ahead.
I cleared dirty dishes, a setting for two with cold rejected coffee left in their cups. It was the last time they would have breakfast together, before the snow began to fall. Her napkin was neatly folded and his was crumpled on half eaten egg. I imagined she couldn’t bring herself to look after such a trivial reminder of his disregard of her talents. It wasn’t like her to neglect dirty dishes.
She never once turned to look at me, while I cleaned up their abandoned scraps, she didn’t condemn him or complain of his vanishing act.
We had our dinner in silence, quiet as the snow fell, we declined to give voice to our heartache. Our misfortune sat between us like a sack of dirty laundry with no one to blame and no raincheck for his lyrical discourse.
He was gone. On a whim, packed up his near and dear in the dead of winter and slipped away.
A Long Time Coming
In my heart of hearts, I knew it was long overdue like the light bill or outdated milk. It felt more like bald tires with nothing left to patch. Done, over, had to go.
The kindness between them had worn out its welcome and their faces turned from one another when sweetness could have been spoken. They never said harsh words or belittled the other. She slept on the couch under a Pendleton blanket more often than not with no excuse or any reason for it to be unusual.
A bright, hushed, muteness reflected across the dining room floor as a full moon forced a bewildered haze through curtained windows. She sat bundled in her holy corner near the half-moon table. Her soft voice hinted hallowed whispers as she drew cards from a wisdom deck and asked for guidance. Her fingers traced the edges of each card. She pondered their meanings and spoke gently to herself.
You have experienced great sorrow in your life. You knew it was coming, you knew you were strong enough to manage, and yet, you reached for guidance. In your choice of cards there is wisdom, deeper understanding of what life brings, forthcoming reality to navigate through the unknown.
Before daylight could surface between the trees snow continued to fall. She sang a melody for clearing, for purification, and for letting go. Her feather fan slung cedar smoke from her hand held smudge bowl as she walked through every room in the house. A time or two she stopped, sat down the bowl and feather long enough to rearrange a piece of furniture or put something that belonged to him in the trash. Immediately she continued her sacred duties to rid her home of him.
Finally, the clouds parted and Grandfather Sun glistened through tall, snow ladened trees. She stood in the open front door and waved her feathers and said, “Be gone, I say, be gone with you.”
With the closing of the door, she turned into the open space of her home with a smile, a confidence, an understanding that the days ahead might be tough, she may long for the smell of him, or she may be reminded of him in a passerby, or hear a song on the radio that they once danced to. And yet, deep inside of her being, she knew she would continue on, brave her way through the days ahead until daffodils peaked through the melting snow once more.
You too, know beyond all knowing that you will brave the coming days. You will shed your tears, scream the unfairness of life in your raw-boned voice of deep sadness. You will unyoke yourself from the days gone by, unchain your heart and set it free.
She gently sat in the small rocking chair beside her half-moon table after hanging her feathers on a hook nearby and covered her shoulders with her grandmother’s shawl. Her weathered fingers rolled the tiger’s eye stone in the palm of her hand and she began a new day.