You’ve been told about my need for perfection in other posts, but I am trying to let go of that. So here with all its warts is my first offering. Your comments will be cheerfully accepted and appreciated.
A Silent Witness
The little house had stood nestled up against the oak forest for almost seventy-five years. Families grew, children became adults, married and moved away. The years passed and the house stood firm. It sheltered the families there through wind, rain, and snow. It felt proud of its years of service and imagined that it would remain standing at least another seventy-five.
It was a well-kept house. Over the years the many owners had painted it inside and out, put up wall paper, patched cracking plaster, reshingled the roof when it leaked, added proper plumbing and tore down the old outhouse. The windows shone, as did the floors, never a cobweb in the corners, or dust on the sills, it was neat as a pin inside. As well, the porches were swept, geraniums planted and then placed to advantage as a welcome to visitors. The ladies who had come and gone over the years made sure of that.
And so it was year in and year out.
The house was waiting in anticipation of the spring, for then the occupants would seemingly awake from their hibernation of winter, and thus would begin the bustle of deep cleaning. Opening the windows wide they let in fresh air to dispel the staleness. It loved to feel the breezes come in and refresh its rooms. From basement to attic the small house breathed in the perfume of spring. Soon would begin the planting and tending of the vegetable garden out back, and flowers set to grace the way to the front porch. The warm days of summer would follow, with sun and heat to dry out its timbers deep into the bones of its structure.
However, something happened to change everything.
The day had begun as usual, sun up, birds singing, people busy about their tasks to start the day. Idyllic. A gentle breeze that had been blowing all morning gradually picked up force and turned into a gale, but the house paid no notice. Winds had come and gone many times, and nothing came of it. To be sure, there had been some storms that took a roof tile or two, or a tree branch that came down and put out a window, but those were trifles and nothing the occupants couldn’t fix.
However, today was different, and the house could feel it in the anxious actions of its people. They were tense and listening with care to the televised weather advisories. As the sky darkened the family grew very quiet. The wind picked up in speed pushing the rain sideways, and hurling giant balls of ice down out of the sky it broke several window panes. It was then that the parents got the children together and went down into the basement. The house felt the seriousness of these events and wondered what to expect next. In all its years it had never experienced a storm so fierce.
The wind was screaming at her, and pulling on her siding. It seemed angry, tugging as if to bring her down. She resisted the effort. Faster the wind came, it swirled her perimeter, stabbing her in places with poles and lumber it had scavenged along the way, dislodging roof shingles, and still the she held against the fury. Gaining strength the storm blew out her windows, then poured its rain and wrath into her. Hearing her timbers groan it came in for the kill. Taking a mighty last bite, it ripped an entire wall from her side and cast it to the ground. Her timbers stood in defiance.
Gaining no satisfaction from its fury on the home the wind moved on to break trees and scour the earth. Only then, feeling spent, did it pull itself back up into the clouds and die away.
The family had huddled in fear through the violence of the storm and now listened to make sure it was safe before climbing the stairs. Opening the basement door they were shocked to find daylight streaming into places it should not be. Their home had saved them, and they were grateful, but in so doing it had forfeited its dream of another seventy-five years.
After the tornado, the family gathered what they could and left.
The silent house remains a witness to the furry of a storm.
NOTE: The house was spotted by me in Tennessee this past week. As soon as I saw it the story was begun. I went back yesterday to get the photograph.
Since then I have picked, poked, torn apart, rewritten,
and generally over thought this piece.
It is practice for heaven’s sake!
Letting go now…