“No one lives there any more, child. Don’t worry your sweet head over those that no longer exist. It’s just a farm house.”
So many years ago my grandfather told me not to worry. Yesterday he passed away. Today my grandmother handed me a ragged old book; a diary. It was wrapped in cellophane to keep it preserved. His last entry, she said, just days earlier. I did not dare open it while others were watching. I don’t know why, just a feeling I suppose.
Later that night, in the upstairs room my grandparents kept for me, I began to unwrap my gift. Off in the distance, through the open window, I could see the old farm house he whispered about, now just twenty years ago.
The crinkle of the paper irritated my senses and I quickly finished. The binding was tan with dark smudges where it had been opened several times. Inside, the first page read “The farm house across the field.” Why would grandfather write about a house he insisted was nothing of significant worry? I began reading about the house that sat a distance from my window and the longer I read, the colder it got. Was it my imagination that the air felt like ice?
Most of the story was about the life of a man and woman who lived together for several years, never parting from each others side. Then, one afternoon, someone came calling and took the man away on a journey unexpected. She waited for his return. She waited for a long time.
The last pages were in grandfather’s handwriting, just like all the rest, but they were somehow different. He was shaken, perhaps from worry or age, perhaps from the emotions on the page. Those final pages are engraved into my memory, a poem to explain the rest. My grandfather, the neighbor.
She walked within the walls,
pacing from one end to the next.
She waited for him to return
from the journey so long ago.
Day, weeks, months;
it’s hard to say how many years.
Was she even alive anymore?
Pacing the upstairs room every night
from dusk until her legs gave way.
Tilling the earth every day,
stopping only to look towards the horizon.
Her skin now wrinkled and her hair grey,
she finally stopped one afternoon,
stopped tilling, stopped everything.
That same evening she fell to her knees and wept.
There was nothing left of her.
There was nothing more to give.
She lay upon the cold floor until there was emptiness.
Over the horizon he limped towards home,
his eyes aged and worn, his leathered skin cracked,
his back bend from exhaustion.
His journey led him to places better left untold,
his mind filled with endless horrors.
None so terrible as finding her limp body;
his love, with only a few minutes left.
Leaning down beside her,
he lifted her and held her one last time.
She smiled and gave to him her final breath with their final kiss.
They were found together some time later;
a neighbor noticed she was no longer tilling.
They were found entwined in a final embrace;
from the beginning to the end of their lives.