I left my love sleeping. He will find me, later. For that I will regret. I took one last sip of tea, stealing the warmth from the cup with my crippled fingers, before I washed it and placed it in the rack by the window. One cup less to wash for Henry. The wind hissed through the wooden frame, bowed and bulging against the rock and mortar. Was it telling me something?
I listened. I put on my thread-bare cardigan, pulling the ends tightly over my bony chest. It was my father’s and I could never seem to give it away. I’m glad I didn’t. Crossing the threshold, I promised myself that I wouldn’t look back at the place that bore out my simple, but purposeful life. It had rained through the night, leftover droplets falling from the roof in timed sequence. Drip. Drip. Drip. One anointed my brow as I stepped onto the crushed stone pathway that would lead to my destiny. Seemed like a fitting gesture–exiting.
I panned the fields Henry had worked for so many years, sheep dotting the far horizon. They were now empty, the harvest taken in by the two-man crew that now worked the land. Henry had succumbed to the pains of labor years ago, no longer able to manage the farm he inherited from his father, and his father before him. Taking the crisp air into my lungs, I cough most of it out…my body rejecting the life it brought.
Everything was green. Green-gold, green-brown, green-rust. Always green, my Sheepwash–my little world. I had wished for it to be Spring, where colors abound. But the pink roses that climbed the walls were now hunchbacked vines, burdened by the last hanging flower, hints of its rouge color tipping the ends of the petals. The sweet fragrance of lavender that fronted my herb garden, were now skeletons of their once youthful bounty. The artichokes, brown and dried, still reached for the sun that did them in, their usefulness, whether food or flower, had come and gone. What were they hoping for? It was now Autumn. The cold had made its presence known, stripping nature of its personality; stopping any resistance to its chill. All that remained were frail, twiggy, barren branches savoring the last remnants of life.
The rain had stopped, temporarily, and the sun was teasing through the clouds. Taunting me? I shuffled my feet further away from the cottage, dragging my aching legs, no longer useful to me or anyone. It led to the bench that Henry built for me when we were newlyweds. It overlooked the hills of the neighboring farms where black and white cows roamed, with sporadic echoed-moos breaking the silence. It was breathtaking–the boundless, undulating, verdant view. The expanse had no beginning and no end; just endless transformation, season to season, year to year, my life, and my death, in the making. The bench creaked as I willed myself to sit. We were kindred spirits. The roughened slats were damp and the cold penetrated my skin. I ran my fingers over the rotted wood, patched with minty-moss, inviting the memories that were left there. Memories that would stay there–no more to create. I inhaled, my lungs no longer obeying my commands. Breathe, damn you! I squinted at the rays of light falling through the drifting patches of passing clouds before the weight of my head fell upon my chest, no longer able to reach for the sun.