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The Winter Man
By F. MiYon Richardson
Saturday, January 04, 2003
The old man dropped the axe to the ground and gathered up an armful of newly cut firewood. He shuffled forward, squinting at the humble abode twenty feet ahead. It seemed so far away. The sun peeked through the clouds, casting a comforting glow over the land, bathing plantlife and animals in warmth and radiance. But the old man took no notice, and continued about his business.
It had been an excruciatingly long morning already. His joints ached, his back hurt, and his eyesight was rapidly deteriorating. Every object was perceived as a blurred image, just beyond recognition. It didn't matter to him. Nothing did anymore. Inside, a field mouse scurried quickly underneath the kitchen floorboards. The old man paid no heed, and proceeded to remove his cap and gloves. Already, his hands shook uncontrollably. He placed some firewood into the hearth, blind to the ribbon of illumination seeping under the doorway. He was staring at the flames, mesmerized by the infernal dance.
He hadn't eaten in three days. He had been sleeping...and dreaming. The old man was suddenly aware of his grumbling stomach. As he made his way to the kitchen, the extraordinary light covered the entire den. If he had turned around, he would have marveled at the brilliance, but he kept his back to the magical splendor. Pulling a soiled pan from the sink, his mind wandered to his dearly departed wife. Irene had died, seven years ago to this day, from lymphatic cancer. They had weathered wars, a national depression, and the death of their son together. He buried his face in his hands and wept. The light had stopped at his feet, waiting for the old man to turn around. But...he never did.
Instead, he fell, depleted and defeated. He exhaled his last breath, his left hand resting upon his heart and the other mingling in the light's resplendence.
Irene never had a chance to make her announcement, to tell the old man of her exciting news. She retreated, back to where she belonged, waiting patiently for her husband's arrival.
William F. Forbes
May he rest in eternal peace.
"Come on, honey. He's finally at rest." Jack linked his arm with hers and tried to lead her to the car.
"No, not yet. Give me a few minutes. I want to...I want to say good-bye," said Ginny.
Her husband touched the gravestone and sighed. "He's where he wants to be. We tried to help him. Everyone tried. He's with her now. Let it go."
"Let it go?" she cried. The ground was wet and cold, the sky was a stony grey, that which mirrored Ginny's emotions.
"He chose to isolate himself. He refused to accept her death. For seven years, seven years, he ignored everyone and everything. I loved him too...he just didn't love us."
Ginny tried to choke back her tears. "I know," she whispered. "Please...just a couple of minutes...alone."
He bent down to kiss her tenderly on the forehead and reluctantly left. She placed a hand to the damp earth and began, "I know you never meant to hurt us, and I can't help feeling bitter. But even though I am angry and resentful, I still love you. Even though you refused to speak to me after Mom died, I still love you. And even though you shut me out time and time again, I still love you."
A beam of sunshine broke through the drab cloudscape. Unlike the old man who saw only misery, death, and loneliness, she perceived hope, life, and love. Basking in the luminous splendor, she slumped against the gravestone, hugging it to her bosom.
"I miss you, Dad," she said softly. She reflected upon the past, remembering her father in a new and different sense. Sadness was replaced with compassion and understanding. In the last couple of years, she had she refused to forgive him, but today in both mind and spirit, she silently forgave him.
Regaining her composure, she stood and uttered, "Good-bye."
Upon departure, she caressed her burgeoning belly and spoke in a gentle voice, "Let's go...William."
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|Reviewed by nicole
|i loved it miylou, it was beautiful, the dialog was touching and real your friend in coloraod, nicole b.|
|Reviewed by Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado
|so sad, this write, but very well done! thanks for sharing! love, your friend in texas, karen lynn. (((HUGS))) :)|