Monday, September 10, 2012

18. The Winds of Change

[Note:  This story is longer than usual--about 1,000 words, and it has a very different tone.  I hope you like the change of pace.]

She always knew that someday she would have to move—everyone said so.  She was too old, too weak, too frail to continue taking care of this old, frame house.  Its paint was peeling, window sills cracked, chimney leaning.  In fact, the house looked like she felt some times.
            But she had been born in this prairie house, married in it, gave birth to 3 sons in it, watched her husband, Don, sicken and die in it, and God willing she would die in it, too.
           Yes, she lived alone now.  No one wanted to come out here to the middle of nowhere, 20 miles from town and the grocery store.  Everyone thought she was foolish when she could live in comfort with one of her sons.   Or so they said. 
            Sometimes when she woke out of a sound sleep, she forgot that everyone was gone.  She thought she had to jump out of bed and run to the kitchen to start breakfast.  She didn’t want Don to start a hard day’s work without a full stomach and she didn’t want the boys to be late for the school bus.  But then she’d remember she had no one to cook for, no one to hurry for, and she’d sink back into bed, her heart rate slowly returning to normal.  And part of her would be relieved but part of her would be sad.
            Well, she’d tell herself that was what life was all about—some times you were happy and some times you were sad.  If you were lucky you had more things to be happy about.  Or at least you made up your mind you would be happy no matter what things you got in the life of chance.
            She didn’t want to be one of those old women who always complained about their health and how no one came to see them any more.  Actually she was in pretty good health for a woman of 88 years.  She supposed that’s why no one really pushed her when it came to the issue of moving.  And her boys and their wives were good about checking on her.  Even the grandkids, now that they could drive, stopped by to see her.  Of course, they all liked her chocolate chip cookies.  “Maybe I bribe them but at least I don’t whine,” she thought to herself.
            She heard the wind quicken and swirl around the house.  She peered out the dusty window at the setting sun.
            “Looks like there might be a breeze tonight.  I guess a little freshening wouldn’t hurt this old house and me any.”  She smiled as she climbed back into the bed that had once belonged to her parents.  These days she seemed to go to bed with the sun and rise with the sun.  Of course, that didn’t mean that she slept those long hours.  She happily opened her book.  Thank God, she still had her vision.  Heavens knew what she would a done if that had gone.  It was a new murder mystery that her oldest son’s wife, Martha, gave her.  Martha was a reader, too, and knew the joy of losing yourself in someone else’s life.  Not that her own life wasn’t interesting enough.
            “I guess that’s the problem.”  She thought other people couldn’t understand how she enjoyed watching the clouds shift across the sky, and how the breezes and occasional rain moved across the fields.  In town, in another house, she couldn’t live her own life and see the beauty she was used to.  She’d be living someone else’s life.  And although that might be fun to read about, she didn’t think it would be fun to do.  
            She would continue living her own life in her own house.  The only way she would leave this house, no matter what they said, was in a box, God Willing. 
            People asked her why she liked murder mysteries--weren’t they morbid.  But she didn’t think they were morbid.  In fact, most of them were funny.  The victim was usually hated by everyone in town, so you didn’t feel sorry he or she was dead.   Course then you did have to worry that the wrong person would be jailed and convicted.  But you just had to remember it was just a story and that justice triumphed in the end.  At least in the books she read.  She didn’t want any of those dark, dismal miscarriage of justice miseries.
            She noticed that the wind seemed to be picking up.  “Well, I better get to sleep now, so I can get up early to clean up any wind damage.”  She said her nightly prayers, asking for blessings on everyone she knew—which still took a long time.  And then she added, “ And please God, let me stay in this house forever.”  She slowly fell into a deep, comforting sleep.
            But it seemed that God was not willing--Later than night was was woken by a fierce, roaring windstorm that was sweeping across the prairie.  She used to laugh and say nothng was between her house and the Rocky Mountains, a thousand miles away.  The winters could get might cold.
             She sat up in bed, wondering if she should go down to the storm cellar.  The windows were rattling, the house was shaking, the chimney making sounds like a groaning ghost.  She shook her head, “No, I ain’t running away from a storm.   This house and me have stood up to much worse than this.  I reckon I’m safer where I am.”
            As she said these words there was a great creaking and breaking sound as the roof was torn clear off the house, she watched branches blowing over the open ceiling and felt the fierce strength of the wind come down into her room.
“Oh, dear, everyone was right,” she cried.  “I am going to have to move.  My house is going.”
She scurried out of bed and under it.  Laying there in shock she felt safe.  Her parents’ bed had been build from sturdy oaks that had been on the farm a long time.  She felt it could withstand anything.  But just then a ceiling beam still hanging from the remains of the roof, was pulled away by the wind and dropped across the bed, crushing it and the old woman beneath it.
The Winds of Change helped her keep her vow.   She would be leaving her house as she had wanted.
                                                               The end

1 comment:

  1. Oh wow, I loved this story. Much spookier than the normal Amy stories but still wonderful.