Some Change is Not Welcomed: Billybuc Photo Challenge
A simple tombstone, bleak and ordinary marks the location of my best friend. I pretend the weeds surrounding her resting place are colorful flowers--soft white, yellow and pink livening up this sacred space for me. It's not a sad place. It is what we wanted, simple. Nancy was on the headstone, but we repurposed it with my friend's info on the other side. A tear lazily slides down the wrinkles in my face hiding in the lines there until it reaches the dimples deepened with time that she loved.
"Dimples," is what she called me. She could not help commenting on them each day--how the holes on both sides of my face turned to sunken places to nowhere.
Standing there looking at the headstone brought with it memories of her smile. This entire place is a reflection of our love for each other. The wall of trees provides the right amount of cozy for our intimacy. The wooden well we chatted at, throwing pebbles in to see how far the water had risen or fallen... love.
My heart fills with warmth and peace as I walked closer to the headstone to read my dear's home-going information once more as I await my turn to have my place next to her.
I reach down and pluck the dandelion near her from its position, a lonely position among the colors, like me. Not sad, but definitely lonely since she received the mercy of going to eternal rest. A few of the seeds dislodge as I bring the ball of white on a stick to my face.
"Do I really want to spread you around," I ask the round ball of life. I actually expected an answer from it. It was so close to her resting place, I expected it to talk as much as she did while she graced my life with her's. I believe her essence fills this place, our place, our hideaway.
I blew gently on the ball of white causing the seeds to shimmer before dislodging into the gentle breezed directed by the wall of life in the trees. White life went into the breezed landing in multiple directions. I did not expect to make any changes. I will not cut the grass just yet. Maybe I will make it, survive that long to get around to it.
The can of browning flowers marked the place I intended to be interred one day. Not soon. She never thought of those dead flowers as bad.
"It just the circle of life, Clive," she would say. "Those brown flowers help to continue the beauty that is here no matter what else we experience in the world."
I chuckle out loud. "I will keep living for you," I promise. "I won't bother those brown flowers either." I decide to walk past the well towards the wall of trees toward the path.
This too was sacred ground. In the soil was the memory of loved ones between each leaf and wood chip that covered the well-trodden path.
The green foliage should have given me comfort, but each time I walk through this canopy of verdure life I grow anxious because so many of my family fell on that path. Two sons, a daughter, Mother, my sister Sophie... They all did not make it through. That was years ago, though. It was before everything changed with the virus. This place held terrible memories to be so full of life now.
This too was sacred ground. In the soil was the memory of loved ones between each leaf and wood chip that covered the well-trodden path. Here is where on the side of the path where Tasha received mercy...
"No!" I am sure I said it aloud. I don't want to think like that today, I told myself in my mind--for sure! Today is special. It is an anniversary. This is not the day to bring up the tragic things. There are plenty of days for that.
We held hands walking down this path so many times. We giggled and fought up and down this little lane of ours for years. As long as she stayed with me there was no care in the world that could phase me. Yes, this path is our lover's lane. It is today!
I rub my hands along the tall wheat-looking grass as I pass rusted buildings toward the house.
Raised in a Barn
Clearing the trees, the first thing that pops into my vision is the field unplowed. The barn is not in the best shape, but we will get it back--me and the other three boys. My strong bucks! I'm proud of them. She was too, Tasha. It's not easy to have a large family during these times, but we managed.
I imagine that tall grass to be wheat growing like when I was a young man working with Pa before the virus came and changed everything. That new red and white building was not there then, just the silo and the wheat barn. Vaccination changed us. Now we can get back to work like the old days. I rub my hands along the tall wheat-looking grass as I pass rusted buildings toward the house.
"I won't let the bad memories in today," I say aloud to make it so. My thoughts will not comply with my will, but I push out the horrors of those buildings from my mind. The horrors that went on there during the swarm season a few years back. The odor from that direction did not help. It will be years before it dissipates, I bet. But I, and the boys, will get it situated. Not today, though.
"I just need to go sit at the lake" I convince myself.
Who was I talking too? Yeah, I believed in God, but I wasn't really talking to Him. I used His name as an excuse to talk out loud.
Getting to the house, the good feelings from the quiet place have fled into the normal daily fear that has haunted me for years. The boys and I will get to the repair of the house is a dream that I allow myself to have so that I can detach from reality.
With Tasha gone, this old place just seems to be a pile of wood with windows that need new drapes. We were supposed to paint it some weird color, chantilly lace, she said before she went to rest. White is just white to me. Chantilly lace is my favorite white now, though. The yard has the potential to be a fire hazard. Tasha made this place worth being in. She contracted the virus here. Sophie, Mother, Pa, Brad & Logan (my twins), and Anashia all caught the virus here.
"No, I just need to make it to the lake so I can just think."
"Maybe I need to go back to Tasha's resting place."
"God," I say talking more to myself than anyone. "This is too much. I just need one day where I can have some peace before the reality of what I am facing comes crashing back in."
"Don't I deserved one day? The boys have been on a run to get supplies for three days now. They should have been back yesterday."
Who was I talking too? Yeah, I believed in God, but I wasn't really talking to Him. I use His name as an excuse to talk out loud.
"Maybe I should go inside the house," I say aloud. That's how it starts. You start talking to yourself.
"No! I am going to the lake."
"Next I will be talking to someone if this is it." I rush away from the house towards the lake. "If I start seeing things it is too late. The boys will have to give me mercy."
One last look at the house, I swear I saw Tasha waving out of the open drapes on the second floor!
Jason, Thando, and Mosiah search the property for their dad. The supply run had taken longer because of an issue with the vehicle and a few people that needed mercy on the way. Though there is a vaccine, it will be years before everyone has access to it before it is too late.
"Let's check the lake," Jason commands the other two. If he is turning, we might be too late. The lake is where Clive would sit thinking for hours and meditating.
The men arrive at the lake scanning the reflection of the wall of trees on the waters dark. Peaceful. They hear the chatter of their father's high strung tenor voice gabbing incessantly, but only his voice.
"It's too late," Mosiah says in a loud whisper. The trees along the edge of the lake look like sentinels now. Mosiah spots his father talking to a pile of wood on the edge of the water. "There he is. What should we do?"
"Should we still give him the vaccine," asks Thando nervously rubbing the left pant leg of his jeans with his large hands--memory Flashes of fishing with his father glinting his brain.
"It won't work," chokily responds Jason. "It didn't work with Mom or the others."
The lake seems to turn from the serene place of their youth to the hell of decision. The dark reflective waters seem sinister now.
"We need to put him down while he is talking to himself. Once he turns, he's dangerous." Mosiah glares at Thando for so saying.
"We are vaccinated, Thando!"
"Mosiah, not everybody is, though. If we don't put him down, he will wander around and attack somebody. Plus, we promised Dad we would give him mercy and put him next to Mom."
"I will do it, Jason volunteers through tears. Walking toward the muttering parent, he cocks his shotgun for the grim lakeside deed.
"Shoot him in the brain or he will just crawl out of the grave," Thando reminds him.
© 2020 Rodric Anthony